Initially, whenever I thought about Rwanda, pictures of civil war and genocide come to my mind. However, after my multiple visits to the country, the whole image changed. For the most part, Rwanda is clean, safe, well maintained, and organized. Kigali is a typical example of a modern city that is being created from the remnants of a dark era that no one wants to remember.
I always travel on the Ethiopian airlines to Kigali. The purpose of my visit was telecom related technical aid that I had to give to a client of ours. When in Addis Ababa’s airport, I always hate seeing the rusting planes next to the runway. Upon arrival to Kigali, you will be greeted by airport personnel which will validate the printed version of the online entry visa. Also, you are always asked if you are carrying nylon bags as they are not allowed into Rwanda. It is true that security in the airport is stiff, but everyone is friendly. All things considered, the first impressions given about the country are encouraging.
As soon as I left the airport, the first thing that I noticed is the high level of maintenance of the streets, sidewalks, and post lamps. This is a rare sight in Africa. Similarly, all the buildings are well organized and taken care of. Police officers are effectively present and the traffic law is very well applied. Schools, universities, towers, banks, nightclubs, restaurants… Kigali was amazing.
I had to stay in Kigali for one night before leaving to Kamembe, a location next to Kivu Lake. My experience in Africa tells me that the main cities are usually the best in the country. To my surprise, the roads were also well maintained almost everywhere in the country. The small huts on the sides of the road were clean, well-organized, and you can see that everything is built according to a plan. To be honest, it was the first time that I ever see volcanoes. The view of the hills and greenery was breathtaking and this is truly the land of the thousand hills.
After Kamembe’s stop, I had to go to Gisenyi, which is a town separated by the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This village is named Goma on the DRC’s side. A giant volcano is lurking next to the town, emitting fumes, and getting ready to explode. Other than the volcano, rebels from the other side of the border are also causing trouble in the town.
I left Gisenyi at night time. My destination was Kigali. The number one rule in Africa was never to travel by car at night. My driver confirmed that the road is always safe and so it was. Army personnel erected checkpoints from time to time as well. It was a nice trip to this beautiful country which is excellent for tourism. The hotels are affordable and well maintained and several plans with touristic guides are available which include climbing a volcano and meet with friendly gorillas.
Tips to consider before going to Kigali:
- The visa is issued online
- Do not carry plastic bags in your luggage
- Travel at nighttime is safe
- The temperature at night time drops
- Be sure to complete all the necessary vaccines before visiting Rwanda