Welcome to Rwanda

Wonderguide by

Sonja Dögg Pétursdóttir

Welcome to Rwanda

I just moved here and would love to share all the great locations and to-do's around here, I will continue adding to this list as I experience more!

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The most popular destinations

Safaris, hikes and other great to-do's

Image - Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park
Sonja Dögg:A fantastic and beautiful National Park, not as busy as the more popular tourist safaris such as those in Kenya. But still with plenty of animals, such as elephants, giraffes, zebra's, lions, hippos, crocks, rhino's etc. etc. Getting to Akagera only takes about two and a half hours from Kigali. There are plenty of agencies to book with, but also, if you are driving yourself, the roads are very nice. I would however always use a 4x4 in the park itself. You could take your own and then for example get a guide with you in the car that you book at the entrance or in before hand, or get a guide, drive and vehicle at the entrance, by either booking when you arrive or in before hand. If you want to book a vehicle, guide, driver in Akagera I suggest contacting the park itself at akagera@africanparks.org they usually reply within 24 hours with a pricelist and other info, (more on activities in a folder called Akagera NP activities and more).
Image - Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu
Sonja Dögg:Lake Kivu is a popular destination in Rwanda. It only takes about 2-3 hours to get to the lake, depending on traffic. The roads are all new and very good. Lake Kivu offers a lot of activities and places to visit from the north to the south of the lake, (more on activities in a folder called Lake Kivu activities and more).
Image - Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Sonja Dögg:Nyungwe Forest National Park is a beautiful park in the southwest Rwanda. Here you can go on beautiful hikes and explore the wildlife (such as the monkeys). Do the canopy walk were you walk 60m above the forest floor. Scary for some, but I sure enjoyed the breathtaking view, (more on activities in a folder called Nyungwe NP activities and more).
Image - Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park
Sonja Dögg:A beautifully well preserved national park where the gorillas live and roam wild in the mountains. Volcanoes National Park is on the boarder with Congo and Uganda. There are plenty of hikes to go on here, but remember that a permit is needed. A typical one day hike would be to Mt. Bisoke or to Dian Fossey's tomb where you can indeed bump into gorillas without being on the real expensive gorilla tracking tour. I would recommend to anyone to visit Volcanoes National Park.
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Favorite Coffee Houses


Image - ViaVia Kigali
ViaVia Kigali
Sonja Dögg:A beautiful coffee house for a perfect weekend brunch. Me and my husband went there for a full English breakfast. Absolutely perfect atmosphere and beautiful surrounding. There is a play area for the children outside, a slide, swing and green grassy area where you can watch your children play while you relax.
Image - Shokola Storytellers Café
Shokola Storytellers Café
Sonja Dögg:Casual rooftop cafe, with a breathtaking view. Walk up the stairs behind the library to get to the roof. Great for meetings with friends or coworkers, wifi and electric plugs for charging your phone or computer. Indoor and outdoor seating, all the good coffee and simple but great menu!
Image - Inzora Rooftop Café
Inzora Rooftop Café
Sonja Dögg:Another great rooftop cafe in Kigali. This one is on two stories, in the back of a bookshop and with a rooftop as well for sitting outside. Great for meetings, either friends or coworkers, simple menu and great coffee
Image - Java House - Kigali Heights
Java House - Kigali Heights
Sonja Dögg:If I am going to the Kigali Heights (The "mall") then this is the best place to relax for a cup of coffee, indoor and outdoor seating. Great coffee and impressive menu.
Image - La Galette
La Galette
Sonja Dögg:A very simple coffee house in downtown Kigali, where the hustle and bustle is. This cafe has the best bakery in town, great pastries and bread to take home and enjoy. So if you are heading downtown, I would say stop by!
Image - Brioche, Kacyiru Branch
Brioche, Kacyiru Branch
Sonja Dögg:A very local and popular coffee shop near all the embassies and NGO's, usually full of expats and locals working in the area. Great bakery and one of the best bread in town! Good place to work with coffee or meetings with friends or coworkers
Image - Kigali Art Café
Kigali Art Café
Sonja Dögg:Cozy indoor outdoor cafe with a good menu and great atmosphere! Great for hanging out with friends or co-workers. Remember to look at the pottery in the back building, its beautiful and not so pricey
Image - The Women's Bakery
The Women's Bakery
Sonja Dögg:Such a cute bakery that is not just a bakery but also a social enterprise whose mission is to empower women though education and business.

Lake Kivu Activities and More

Find out what you can do in Lake Kivu

Image - Kibuye Blue Monkey Tours & boat trip
Kibuye Blue Monkey Tours & boat trip
Sonja Dögg:Me and my husband have gone on two trips with Emmanuel on Lake Kivu. He has his own boat and can take you island hopping, seeing the monkeys and bats as well as take you on a picnic island and for a swim or hike. Just WhatsApp him your information and to see if he is available. He usually replies within the hour :)
Image - Bethany Hotel
Bethany Hotel
Sonja Dögg:Bethany hotel is perhaps a 3 star hotel at Lake Kivu, but even if its not the highest rated hotel. Its very cozy and well situated (a view of the hotel from a nearby hill), not to mention beautiful. You can book everything from a $20 room to a Lake view executive room for $50. From the hotel you can be picked up for boat activities, enjoy the view of the Rwandan fishing boats or enjoy dinner at the restaurant by the lake.

Akagera NP Activities and More

Akagera is one of Rwandas National Parks, here you can arrive in your own vehicle and drive through the park yourself, or hire a driver and car. I do recommend using Akagera's official site for more information on sleeping accommodation, trips, boatrides etc. http://www.akagerarwandanationalpark.com/

Image - Kibo Slopes Rwanda Ltd
Kibo Slopes Rwanda Ltd
Sonja Dögg:I took my brother-in-law on a trip to Akagera on a safari with Kibo Slopes, a local agency in Kigali. It was the first time I tried them and I have to say they did great! Fabrice (our driver and guide) picked us up at home and took us for a daytrip in Akagera National Park. We spent 5-6 hours in the park looking at Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Hippos etc. etc. roaming around the park in a fantastic safari vehicle. The trip only cost us 180$ each (although if you are 3 or more it is only 155$) and it included our entrance, bottled water, lunch and pickup/drop-off
Image - Akagera Game Lodge
Akagera Game Lodge
Sonja Dögg:If you want to stay inside Akagera National Park, then this is one place to stay. You can also see the animals at night! I recommend using Akagera's website http://www.akagerarwandanationalpark.com/ for more info
Image - Ruzizi Tented Lodge
Ruzizi Tented Lodge
Sonja Dögg:If you don't like camping then I would try glamorous camping or glamping at Akagera National Park! Be in a tent, but have the luxury of a real bed! I recommend using Akagera's website http://www.akagerarwandanationalpark.com/ for more info
Image - Lake Ihema
Lake Ihema
Sonja Dögg:Go on a short safari boat trip inside Akagera National Park. See the hippos up close and the crocodiles. They offer this tour at the parks office. I recommend using Akagera's website http://www.akagerarwandanationalpark.com/ for more info
Image - Shakani Campsite
Shakani Campsite
Sonja Dögg:There are a few campsites inside the Akagera National Park. You can be by the lake and experince the hippos and of course the rest of the animals. I recommend using Akagera's website http://www.akagerarwandanationalpark.com/ for more info

Nyungwe NP Activities and More

Find out what you can do in Nyungwe

Image - Canopy Walkway
Canopy Walkway
Sonja Dögg:Go for a hike in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Here you can experience heights and a spectacular view when you walk or crawl across the canopy walkway. There are a few hikes offered and not all of them pass the canopy. There are monkeys flying around in the trees and plenty of birds to spot. Ohhh yes and there are Chimpanzees!

Kigali - The City

What to do, where to go

Image - Kigali Genocide Memorial
Kigali Genocide Memorial
Sonja Dögg:Every visitor coming to Rwanda should start by going to the Genocide Memorial. An exceptionally well assembled and operated memorial.
Image - Inema Arts Centre
Inema Arts Centre
Sonja Dögg:Like Art? Then this is your place
Image - Talking Through Art
Talking Through Art
Sonja Dögg:At Talking Through Art you can go on a art walking tour around Gikondo. Where you will experience Rwandan culture and daily life.
Image - Nyamirambo Women's Centre
Nyamirambo Women's Centre
Sonja Dögg:Another must do when you are in Kigali is to visit the Nyamirambo Women's Center. At the center you can go on 3 different tours, Walk through Nyamirambo, one of Kigalis oldest neighborhoods and get a real Rwanda'n lunch after the tour. Learn how to weave a basket or go for a cooking class and learn the traditional cooking. For further info check out their website www.nmc-umutima.org and book a tour through their site

Want to go swimming

I am Icelandic, that means that I like to go to the pool. There are some great options in Kigali. I am putting my favorites in here

Image - Kigali Marriott Hotel
Kigali Marriott Hotel
Sonja Dögg:I love swimming at Marriott pool, they offer those who are not guests to use their pool for a fee. With the fee you get a towel, slippers and a bathrobe and a locker. In the dressing room there is also beautiful wet and dry sauna's. Of course while you chill at the pool you can also order drinks at food!
Image - Hôtel des Mille Collines
Hôtel des Mille Collines
Sonja Dögg:The pool at Hotel des Mille Collines (also known as Hotel Rwanda) is beautiful and simple. They offer people who are not guests to use their pool for a small fee.
Image - The Manor Hotel
The Manor Hotel
Sonja Dögg:The pool at Hotel Manor is small but cute. It is a bit run down, but the old building and pool has some charm I think and I do like to go there on weekends. Also, you can lounge by the pool for free and pay a very small fee if you are swimming.

Want to exercise

Here are some of Kigali's great fitness stations

Sonja Dögg:CrossFit CrossFit CrossFit, we all love CrossFit right. Here is Kigali's only CrossFit box, actually Rwanda's only box. Guests are welcome!! KigaliFit and CaliFitness operate at the same location
Image - Cali Fitness
Cali Fitness
Sonja Dögg:A small but cozy fitness station with great staff and fabulous coaches! KigaliFit and CaliFitness operate at the same location
Sonja Dögg:A beautiful gym in the neighborhood of Kimihurura
Image - Golf Course Kigali
Golf Course Kigali
Sonja Dögg:I'm looking forward to the beautiful Kigali golf course opening again as it is currently under renovation.
Image - Nyarutarama Sports Centre
Nyarutarama Sports Centre
Sonja Dögg:A tennis club that offers not only Tennis but also has a pool, restaurant and a gym
Image - Yego Yoga Rwanda
Yego Yoga Rwanda
Sonja Dögg:Yoga around the art at Inema Arts Center. They also have other locations and wonderful yoga instructors.

Wonderguide map

  1. Akagera National Park
  2. Lake Kivu
  3. Nyungwe Forest National Park
  4. Volcanoes National Park
  5. ViaVia Kigali
  6. Shokola Storytellers Café
  7. Inzora Rooftop Café
  8. Java House - Kigali Heights
  9. La Galette
  10. Brioche, Kacyiru Branch
  11. Kigali Art Café
  12. The Women's Bakery
  13. Kibuye Blue Monkey Tours & boat trip
  14. Bethany Hotel
  15. Kibo Slopes Rwanda Ltd
  16. Akagera Game Lodge
  17. Ruzizi Tented Lodge
  18. Lake Ihema
  19. Shakani Campsite
  20. Canopy Walkway
  21. Kamiranzovu Hiking Trail
  22. Kigali Genocide Memorial
  23. Inema Arts Centre
  24. Talking Through Art
  25. Nyamirambo Women's Centre
  26. Kigali Marriott Hotel
  27. Hôtel des Mille Collines
  28. The Manor Hotel
  30. Cali Fitness
  32. Golf Course Kigali
  33. Nyarutarama Sports Centre
  34. Yego Yoga Rwanda

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