Kigali: The main neighborhoods of the city
July 12, 2019
by Dotun Adewunmi
Thinking of visiting Africa? Visit Rwanda. It’s one of the safest places on the continent and is also one of the cleanest and most organized. Rwanda has come a long way since the genocide and has grown by leaps and bounds socially and economically.
In the guide below, we cast a spotlight on the need to know places in town and what to expect from them. So you can make informed decisions about where you’d like to go to in Kigali. Let’s begin.
One of the largest and safest middle-income and middle-class neighborhoods you can live in, in Kigali, is Kimironko. Kimironko is popular for Kimironko Market, La Palisse Hotel (with Kigali’s largest swimming pool), clubs, bars, and Kigali Parents School – a sought after primary school. Kimironko Gare, the main bus terminal connects you to all major areas of Kigali.
The main attraction of Remera is the Amahoro National Stadium. On its premises, a new indoor stadium is being built which will host the Commonwealth Games next year. Remera is also home to Kigali’s infamous red light district, where ironically police patrol routinely, as they do throughout the city. There are however quite a few clubs, bars and lounges in the area for night crawlers. Pub-crawling in the area can be fun if you don’t expect a red carpet treatment. The area is however known for poor security, as there have been a number of break-ins and robberies reported from pickpockets who operate mainly at night. It makes the place not particularly liked by people to move to. Remera nonetheless attracts a great number of sports enthusiasts ranging from martial artists, basketball players, tennis players, volleyball players, skaters and more. It’s a great place to meet kindred spirits if you’re into sports. The neighboring areas of Remera are Kimironko, Gisimenti, and Giporoso.
The upper-middle-class sector of the Kimironko axis is Kibagabaga. It’s home to the upper middle class, where you can meet some rich people in their latest jeeps and luxury cars. While there are tons of duplexes in Kibagabaga, there are a huge amount of luxury bungalows, too. With a few condominiums being built there, it makes for colorful living in the residential area. Kibagabaga has roughly 40% tarmac roads and 60% bad dirt roads that are a nightmare to drive on. The problem of dirt roads is a Sub-Saharan one that til this day is prevalent on the continent and is not being addressed. There is the general notion in governments that because rich people live in areas like Kibagabaga, they should fix these roads and not the government. It is purely irresponsible governance by government officials across Sub-Saharan Africa. There’s a genocide memorial in the neighborhood as well as a large hospital, a church, and a private school. Security in Kibagabaga is good and there are not many break-ins although some have been reported. In Kigali, the main reason for break-ins is to steal flat-screen TVs, a large market for which exists in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If you have a lot of money spend on a home, Gacuriro is the place to go to. While most roads in this area are bad dirt roads, it has the largest amount of rich people properties in the city. While in much of Kigali, the average property is a bungalow, in Gacuriro the average property is a luxury duplex. There is also a high amount on mansions and villas in the neighborhood which makes living here very exclusive. Gacuriro accordingly also has expensive restaurants, shops, pharmacies, and supermarkets, due to the high expendable income of the residents. The annual Kigali International Peace Marathon, which starts from Amahoro National Stadium, runs all the way to Gacuriro and then back to Nyarutarama. The nightlife in Gacuriro is buzzing with Voltage nightclub which is frequented diaspora Rwandans, mainly.
Nyarutarama is home of the most foreign expats, diplomats, high ranking government officials, multinational executives, and rich people. Unlike Gacuriro, the majority of Nyarutarama roads are tarmac roads and in good condition. It makes living there that much more desirable. It’s not uncommon to see Western families go out with strollers for a walk along the park. Nyarutarama is also home to Kigali’s only golf course, a place where many middle-class people go to on a sunny weekend. Furthermore, at the Nyarutarama Sports Club, you can play tennis/table tennis, go swimming, go to a gym and just basically relax by the poolside restaurant. The MTN Centre is one of the most prominent and exclusive shopping malls in Kigali and it’s a major attraction of Nyarutarama.
People Nightclub, Kigali Heights, Kigali Business Centre, Radisson Blu, and the Convention Center, Mamba Club, Waka Fitness, Papyrus club, Kigali Art Cafe and Rolex eatery are just some of the big names resident in this glamorous location. Kimihurura is also home to many nice houses where mostly foreign expatriates live, too. With a big park in the neighborhood, one of the most beautiful in town, its a hot spot for fun seekers, sports enthusiasts and families. A day out in Kigali often involves Kimihurura.
Right in the heart of Mu Mugi, Kiyovu includes the Union Trade Center, Marriott Hotel and Kigali Serena Hotel. It’s a highly commercial area with hundreds of shops and a few residences. Hence the houses are very expensive to live in but high class as well. Only the rich live in Kiyovu. There are also good clubbing options in Kiyovu but be prepared to spend more than in other places.
Nyamirambo is by far the heartbeat of Kigali City. It’s the most populous and the epicenter of the country’s Muslim community. Nyamirambo is a fast-paced, fun and exciting place to be in and visit. There’s always something going on there and if you want to get a good idea of what Kigalians are really about, come to Nyamirambo. There are tons and tons of bars, clubs, lounges, and shops in the area that open till late. Later than the rest of the city. There’s excellent availability of public transportation to major parts of the city so have no fear of staying on there. The country-renowned Senegalese tailors, makers of extraordinary caftans and African attires are also residents of Nyamirambo. This is one place you must visit when you come to Kigali. However, pickpockets abound there so hold your wallet tight.
Kicukiro is a place where there are a large amount of middle-income places and a growing number of middle-class establishments and residential estates. It’s the main base of Mount Kenya University, one of Rwanda’s foremost private universities. It makes living here eventful as there also many schools and institutions in the neighborhood. Kicukiro is a suburb of Kigali but is rapidly growing in importance due to Rwanda’s second airport being built South of Kicukiro. The development has attracted much more real estate investment to the vicinity.
Many new residential estates are being built in the Kanombe area. Some are also for low-income earners but the houses are a beautiful and very good value for money. Rwanda’s main airport is based in Kanombe, where there are a mega shopping mall and hundreds of smaller shops. Kanombe also houses various middle income and middle-class residents. It’s centrally accessible from Giporoso and Kabeza, even from Remera. There is a good network of buses and commercial motorcycles in the neighborhood.
These are, in a nutshell, the major areas to live in, in Kigali. The city is rapidly developing and offers a growing number of attractions and things to do. It needs to be mentioned, too, that power outages are few as the city enjoys largely uninterrupted power supply.
Seeing is believing. Visit Rwanda!