Half-Day Kigali Walking Tour /Rwanda/
Experience all the fascinating levels of Rwanda’s capital city, from the cleanest streets and Africa’s most modern buildings to the simple yet pleasant everyday spaces of a common Kigalian.
- marvel at sweeping views of Kigali City
- explore the main market with stuff from everywhere
- take a Kandt House trip into Rwanda’s history
- play ball with the coolest sportsmen, amputee footballers
- use a city ferry that few know about
- find peace at the extraordinary Genocide Memorial
duration: 5-6 hours; difficulty: easy
area: central Kigali — Genocide Memorial
departures: daily at 9am
Price: USD 40 per person (2 people minimum)
Includes professional guidance, vegetarian snack, museum entry, amputee footballers contribution and ferry crossing.
Our meeting place will be Ubumwe Grande Hotel, fantastically positioned to provide 360 degree vistas of Kigali City and help us mentally prepare for the walk during the guide’s briefing. (Don’t worry: the main direction is down-down-down).
Once you take the city in visually, we will walk past Hotel des Mille Collines, made famous as “Hotel Rwanda” in the Don Cheadle movie (recorded in South Africa, not in Kigali). It was a sanctuary for 700 middle- and upper- class Tutsis during the genocide in 1994; from here people drank swimming pool water and faxed pleas to foreign powers. Nowadays the hotel is refurbished and not that interesting; we have so much more to see!
The City Hall features an exhibition of the government’s vision for Kigali: an African Singapore with a lake replacing the swamp and skyscrapers everywhere, presented with a small-scale model.
The following stop is the only purely vegetarian restaurant in Kigali, where its Indian owner will have packed us some snacks for the way. We will learn how Asians migrated to East Africa in the first half of the 20th century, and how they live now.
Following the foreign exchange street we will slope into the commercial heart of the city. The hustle and bustle will replace the fancy buildings and empty walkways you experienced at the top of the Kiyovu hill. Such is Kigali’s general economic geography: the rich on hilltops, the poor close to the marshes.
But this is not the kind of poverty you might picture in an African city — just look at the City Market! The multi-storey structure will allow us to check on the variety of foods and items available to Kigalians, from Rwanda and abroad, from temperate and tropical environs.
There’s only a short walk left to the Kandt House where the city started. Richard Kandt was an explorer and doctor from Germany who built the first brick house in 1907; Kigali became the capital of Rwanda only half a century later. Today the house is a museum full of excellent historical photography. It will take you back to the pre-colonial times, explore the era under Germans and Belgians, and continue past Rwanda’s independence in 1962.
After you spend about an hour in the Kandt House, the amputee footballers will be ready and calling your guide … These are the true stars of your day! Devoted sportsmen who have found purpose and community playing football (or do you call it “soccer”?) will impress you with their skills on crutches.
Our final site of interest on the southern side of the Nyabugogo swamp is the bus park. Punctual and clean vehicles embark on their national and international journeys from here, and the area is bursting with life.
You will reach the other side of the swamp with a short ferry ride that eases townsfolk’s commute and will help you check on Kigali’s absolute must-visit site: the Genocide Memorial. It is the central national monument, a green place of reflection and a museum of genocides around the world. Entry is free but a donation is part of the tour fee that you have paid.
This should be a personal experience that a group cannot rush. You will do it in peace and meet your guide and fellow travellers at the memorial’s coffee shop to reflect on the hours spent with us.
Click for our stories from the GH Silverchef regional cooking competition …
3-Hour Kampala Walking Tour /Uganda/
Zulaika Birungi shares with you the wild heartbeat of her city, shows you the landmarks and helps you discover the hidden gems. This walking tour takes you to local monuments celebrating different eras, the craft shops, the most prominent markets, the Old Taxi Park, the oldest Hindu temple in Uganda, and the most famous mosque. Exploration on foot is the best you can do in Kampala which isn’t easy to manoeuvre through in any other way because of its hectic traffic jams.
- feel the energy of the city that never sleeps
- see the organised chaos of the Old Taxi Park
- browse through the wares of the biggest market in East Africa
- admire Colonel Gadaffi’s gift to the city of Kampala
duration: 3 hours; difficulty: easy
area: central Kampala
Price: USD 20 per person (2 people minimum)
Includes professional guidance and street vendor snacks.
Zulaika’s team will collect you from the Post Office and walk you to a couple of monuments first: of the founding president of Uganda, of independence and of the world wars. They serve as a great kickoff to talk about Uganda’s dramatic history and complex present.
You will continue towards one of the city’s numerous craft markets, introducing you to the cultural spectrum of the country — and affordable fine art. Next: the variety of edible vegetation of the equatorial tropical paradise! At Nakasero Market one can find so much; even fruits of vegetables you have never tasted before….
At the SSDM Hindu Temple you will be blessed with the opportunity to encounter the belief systems Asians have brought to East Africa; Ugandan Catholics, Protestants and Muslims may be more in numbers but the Hindus have more gods. Many more gods.
That is already tantalisingly close to the Old Taxi Park … What to say … It’s something you have to see with your own eyes. If you ever wondered how many people Ugandans can squeeze into a car, be amazed at how many cars they can squeeze into a parking lot!
We are now deep in the shopping hub of Kampala, the perfect place for some fabric browsing before we venture into Owino, East Africa’s biggest market. Is there anything one can’t buy here?!
So far the walk has been mostly downwards but now you will be leaving the central Nakasero Hill behind to climb into Old Kampala. As the name implies, this is where the city began its explosive growth; prevalent Indian architecture testifies to who the first merchants were.
Our final stop will be the Kampala Central Mosque. Not only did Libya’s dictator and eager African leader Colonel Gadaffi pay for its construction, his country even paid electricity bills for a number of years! It is majestic. Enjoying the views of where you came from you will surely complete your three hours of Kampala with a smile.
Dive into hiking stories and advice from Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo!
Half-Day Musanze Walking Tour /Rwanda/
Get an insider’s introduction to Musanze, a booming African town whose appearance is like nothing you might have assumed … Overlooked by a string of volcanoes you will get it all: from a fascinating rural shopping mall to friendly cassava beaters and awesome gorilla defenders.
- get to know the remarkable work of Gorilla Doctors
- chat with a tailor and a second-hand sock seller
- dive into African hairstyles, wigs and other embellishments
- appreciate high quality fine art and topnotch creative solutions
duration: 5-6 hours; difficulty: easy
area: central Musanze
departures: daily at 8am and 1pm
Price: USD 30 per person (2 people minimum)
Includes professional guidance, all activities, a pastry snack and a soft drink.
A shopping mall as a start of a tour? It might sound boring but this is not your typical buying spree … GOICO Plaza is the microcosm of Musanze, a world by itself. Your guide will arrange a date with a young tailor (and mother), a chat with a seller of second-hand socks (!) and a chance to get great views from the roof, but that’s just scratching the surface. You might get lost in GOICO’s wonders for hours … Like, do you know the purpose of big decorated metallic boxes and what they are made of? And do you have enough warm clothes for this cool area?
Across the street works a welcoming hairdresser who might blow your mind. Are you aware of the fact that very few female hairstyles you have noticed around are made of natural hair?
GOICO doesn’t include fresh food items but don’t worry, we have it all covered! You are already moving towards the older market where ladies pound cassava leaves for sombe, a true Rwandan specialty. If you haven’t experienced the whole collection of fruits and vegetables available in the Gorilla Highlands region, this is the place and the moment!
As you stroll past the main hospital, you will hear about Rwanda’s interesting health insurance scheme. People’s contributions are based on their economic prowess, estimated by local leaders (who are sometimes tempted to inflate their area’s progress).
Before you take a sharp turn towards the Gorilla Doctors’ office, we will get you a sweet snack at Crema, the coffee shop, and introduce you to the excellent Inshuti Arts Centre. We won’t disturb the doctors for long, however, it’s important to see who is literally saving (hairy) lives!
Your final drink at Fatima Hotel can easily turn into swimming fun; this may be the best pool of the area, open into the night and nicely lit!
Prefer wild swimming? You are in luck — you are close to one of our region’s Top 5 Prettiest Lakes!
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