Living in Rwanda
Rwanda is the Land of a Thousand Hills. It is green with a great climate year round. Kigali is clean and organized with restaurants, a cinema, and lovely homes. And although Kigali is growing, you can still get anywhere you want by car in about 15 minutes. This is Kigali in a nutshell!
Rwanda consists of roughly 4 regions: the rainforest in the south of the country (Nyungwe); the savanna-like area in the east of the country (where you can find Akagera National Park); the lush and green volcanoes in the north of the country (Virunga), where the impressive mountain gorillas live; and of course Lake Kivu in the west of the country, with peaceful towns and waterfront hotels in Kibuye and Gisenyi.
Major roads in Rwanda are not broad and always wind through the mountains, but they are asphalted and quite well-maintained. The country is very small and from Kigali, which is situated more or less in the center of the country, all borders can be reached in about 3 hours.
Many people still associate Rwanda with the genocide, but it has been decades since that tragic event. Of course that period has had a large impact on society and will never be forgotten, but Rwanda has moved forward at an amazing pace. It’s a very clean country (plastic bags are forbidden!) and quite safe. Water, electricity, and internet are all reasonably reliable. Rubbish is collected at the door. Moreover, the social climate is pleasant; people are mild-mannered and sweet. So day-to-day life in Rwanda today is quite unlike anything in Rwandan history.
Visitors to Rwanda need a visa. A 30-day tourist visa may be fairly easily obtained online or at the airport on arrival. Rwandan residents may arrange for a special pass that enables them to cross into neighboring countries very easily.
Not only Rwanda, but also Kigali is situated on hills. The altitude varies between 1500 and 1700 meters in the city. Main roads are asphalted and there are some traffic lights and street name signs. Secondary roads are still dirt and can get bad in the rainy season. There is some public transport, by buses and small minibuses, but these are not conveniently run. Taxis are scarce but moto-taxis are widely available. Although the city is growing, traffic is not yet chaotic and most of the time you can reach most destinations in Kigali within 15 minutes.
Nowadays there are quite a few modern supermarkets that have a growing range of products. Imported products are expensive though. Sometimes products are temporarily not available due to logistic problems. It can happen that you have to visit more than one supermarket to find all the products you are looking for. Of course, you can find all local produce for little money on the markets.
There is still little entertainment in Kigali, but there is a bowling alley and a cinema. There are many restaurants that offer a complete range of dishes and restaurants are still affordable. The music scene is growing and there are many bars and clubs.
Although there are apartment buildings, they are pricey, so most people live in a house or share a house. Most houses are relatively spacious and have gardens. Houses are quite comfortable, but kitchens and appliances can be a bit out of date. Kigali is very safe and so not many people live in a compound. But houses are normally fenced off and usually everybody has a guard/gardener.