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From Bangkok to Kigali
There is an air of change in Kigali. It is over 20 years since the Rwandan capital was in the centre of a domestic conflict and acts of genocide killing between 500,000 and 1million Rwandans. Today the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre commemorates the victims but the streets resonate with the confident sounds of a city renewed.
Kigali is the heart of the country both geographically and politically, and few visitors to Rwanda can pass through without spending some time in the city known as the Singapore of Africa. The nickname is not without reason, for Kigali has developed into an organized and forward-thinking city characterized by lawns, flower beds and modern construction. It has even become a popular spot for long-term expats who enjoy a culture heavy on up-market restaurants, coffee shops and boutique stores. It is unsurprising, perhaps, to learn that this city is distinctly Western it its appearance, far removed from the designs associated with a classic African city.
Alternatively, look beyond the city limits and explore the wealth of wildlife in the surrounding hills. Rwanda is home to gorillas, elephants and giraffes, as well as zebras, leopards, and crocodiles. It also boasts the largest montane forest in central Africa, NyungweNational Park, where visitors can become acquainted with thirteen different species of monkey. The park also offers a host of trails excellent for both hiking and biking.
Temperature-wise, there isn’t much to choose from. Midday highs are consistently around 28C, 365 days of the year, meaning that the majority of visitors schedule their trips to coincide with special events rather than the weather. Due to the city’s reputation as a culinary hotspot, the AIC International Food Fair is well worth a visit. Held in May, this popular annual event showcases world cuisines in one spot, and is held on rotation at one of the city’s embassies. July sees the city rocking to the sounds of live music, as the Kigali-Up festival takes over the Amahoro Stadium and exposes spectators to the sounds of rock, pop and funk. October sees the party continue in the shape of the Mutzig Beerfest at the Gikondo Fair Grounds, while smaller cultural events are held throughout the year.