Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Kigali: A 24 Hour City

Kigali is not so much a city that never sleeps, as, as Alex Turner might put it, a city that never wakes up. What qualifies it as a 24 hour city, is that a lot of visitors only end up spending 24 hours there. As a veteran of Kigali hotels I can confirm that the travelling aid dealers, overlanders, and gorilla hunters tend to make their stops in Kigali as short as possible, before venturing on to excitement elsewhere.

So, in the absence of any real new material (or content, as I believe the kids call it these days), here's a cut out and keep guide to where to eat if you're in Kigali for 24 hours.

High End
Are you a luxury gorilla tourist, or a high rolling World Bank aid monkey? Here's how to spend those dollars:

The buffet at Serena is hard to beat, but if you're not staying there it will set you back at least $20. Otherwise try the Panorama Restaurant at the top of the Hotel Mille Collins. The buffet isn't as spectacular, but the view makes a great start to the day.

Lunch / Snacks:
The Novotel buffet is one of those places to go when you have money to burn. It isn't much fun though. Better is the Bourbon Cafe, with branches at the Union Trade Centre in town, and the MTN Centre in Nyarutarama. Excellent coffees come with free wi-fi, leather sofas, and an international menu (i.e. club sandwiches, salads and burgers)

Dinner (or 'tea' if you're from my neck of the woods)
Its a choice between Indian Khazana, for curry and fancy dress waiters, or Heaven for a quality, local sourced menu that changes with the seasons. Both restaurants are in Kiyovu and will set you back a minimum of $20 a head - more if you order wine.

Late night drinking:
Head down to Republika in Kiyovu for cocktails and beers with a view across the valley.

For the NGO workers, journalists and solo travellers looking for a hassle free bite.

At the hotel, or why not stop in and pick up a pain au chocolat from the bakery at the Novotel or the Nakumatt at UTC.

La Sierra, near the banks in town does sandwiches, samosas, cheese pasties and a buffet. Eden garden a few doors down has a well regarded buffet. $10 will buy a decent Italian buffet at the Sol e Luna in Remera.

Back to Sol e Luna for a choice of about 50 pizzas, decent pasta and pitchers of red wine. For a broader menu, head to New Cactus in Kiyovu. A reasonably priced and very tasty buffet can be found at Chez Robert, across the road from the Hotel Mille Collines.

Late night drinking:
Fine dine or Karibu in town for a few beers, then on to Planete nightclub for a dance.

Overlanders, backpackers, volunteers, save your pennies for the following.

A cup of tea and a few biscuits. Who needs breakfast?

There are good buffets to be had at the Kigali Business Centre, Le Banjo in Remera, and at Nile Grill (Rue Kalisimbi, city centre)

Load up on meat quite cheaply at Carwash in Kimihurura, or grab a buffet at Karibu. Chez Lando's (Remera) brochettes come pretty cheap.

After hours drinking:
Stay at Carwash, or Chez Lando, or head over to Fine dine. New Cadillac for dancing.


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