Many people have written to me, asking about different neighborhoods in Kigali. I wanted to do a quick summary of the ones I have seen or spent time in (especially for people who are moving here and are thinking about where to rent/buy a home). For travelers wondering where all the action is, this could also give you an idea. I don’t know all the neighborhoods, and welcome input on the ones below, as well as others!
Kiyovu- The center of town. It’s the place where you can find all the different knick-knacks you want and need, including office supplies, automotive supplies, etc. There’s a street peppered with foreign exchange bureaus, and the rate is one of the best you can find (better than the bank rates). Express matatus to the other big towns in Rwanda leave from here (as well as Nyabugogo...but leaving from Kiyovu is generally more convenient). The Belgian School is located here. The supermarkets are here as well: BCK, Patel’s, La Bonne Source, and La Galette (also known as the German Butchery). Union Trade Center (which will soon have a Nakumatt Supermarket—a Kenyan chain) has a Bourbon Coffeeshop. Two of the big hotels are located here—the Serena and the Mille Collines. Most of the houses in this neighborhood are quaint and pre-war. The boulevards are wide and flowery. The President currently lives here (though he has plans to move soon). There are many NGO offices here. Most of the favored restaurants among expatriates are in this neighborhood. Many NGO workers live here.
Kacyiru- The ministry area. This is where the President’s office is located, as well as most of the ministries (the Ministry of Health is in Kiyovu). They line one long road called the Avenue de la Gendarmerie. Generally speaking, water and power are dependable here, because of the proximity to the ministries. A lot of NGOs have offices here. The homes vary widely, from pre-war to brand-new mega-mansions. Novotel is located here, as are some temporary executive furnished apartments. The U.S. Embassy is located at the end of the Avenue de la Gendarmerie.
Kimihurura- The place where the ministers live. In fact, the central road in Kimihurura is called Minister’s Road, or la Rue des Ministres, which is a wide boulevard. There is a beautiful stone paved road in Kimihurura, and several NGOs have offices there. Papyrus, La Fiesta, Comme Chez Moi, and the Restaurant Hellenique are located here. The homes here vary as well; along Minister’s Road, the houses are large and stunning. Off the road, the houses are not as flamboyant but are generally post-war and are still quite spacious. Some of the roads are unpaved. Many NGO workers live here.
Nyarutarama- The ritzy neighborhood. Everything here reeks of new wealth. The houses are unbelievably large (though frankly, their interior layouts are sometimes a bit awkward and illogical) with columns, marble, and the works. Some even have swimming pools. There was a building boom in this area that has petered off...as a result, many houses are unfinished until someone wants to take them. A lot of wealthy expatriates live here (i.e. not the poor ones who work for small NGOs). The MTN center is located here, which is a growing mall (most of its space is still vacant). There are several restaurants on the top floor, as well as a Bourbon Coffee, and the ground floor boasts another branch of the German Butchery (also known as La Galette). This area looks like California, with tall white houses, sparkling windows, red tiled roofs, and perfectly manicured gardens.
Kagugu- Ritzy neighborhood, rather empty. Most of the McMansions are vacant. There are subdivisions here that eerily resemble the U.S. It’s located past Nyarutarama.
Nyabugogo- The main bus station. The most chaotic area of Kigali! Services such as power and water are largely undependable. Houses tend to be off the beaten path, and are much simpler here. There is a large market in this area, and the international bus services leave from here. The domestic ones do, as well, but I have always found it easier to navigate the bus area in Kiyovu instead.
Remera- Near the stadium. There are a couple little supermarkets here, like Ndoli’s. Chez Lando and the Auberge Beausejour are here, as is the O Sole Luna restaurant. The houses here are nice but not extravagant—many will have 3 bedrooms, a sitting room, and an outdoor kitchen, or a kitchen housed separately, a more traditional setup. There is a buzzing nightlife here—lots of little buvettes. And it’s chaos when the Rwandan team plays!
Safety and security are really outstanding in Kigali. The police and army take their jobs seriously, and are trustworthy. In terms of walking at night, there are generally few dangers. The most common I have heard is of people whose cell phones have been stolen because they were walking and talking on them at night...and even that isn’t common.
Houses and office compounds usually have a guard—otherwise, there is usually razor wire or broken glass cemented onto the tops of the walls.
I feel perfectly safe walking around by myself at night. Nyarutarama, Kimihurura, Kiyovu, and Kagugu are particularly safe; keep your wits about you in Nyabugogo and Remera (at night). It’s not to say that anything will happen, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Generally, rent in Kiyovu and Remera (not sure about Nyabugogo) range from $500-1500 a month. For the wealthy neighborhoods of Kimihurura, Nyarutarama, and Kagugu, the range tends to be from $1500-2000. When realtors propose a price, always negotiate.
Input on these and other neighborhoods is welcomed!