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Tourism in Rwanda might not be focused on its cities, but more and more travellers are taking the time to visit the bustling capital of Kigali. Though rather small and not particularly scenic, Kigali is the administrative and financial heart of the country and a great base from which visitors can begin their travels. It is home to several interesting attractions such as the sobering Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which documents the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and the Hotel Milles Collines (made famous in the film Hotel Rwanda).
There are a reasonable number of hotels and a small variety of restaurants in Kigali, and a busy market offering crafts and other souvenirs. There isn't much in the way of nightlife, but it does have a sprinkling of bars and nightclubs.
Kigali's location makes it a convenient stop on multinational treks, with good road links to cities in Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. Kigali also makes a good base for arranging excursions to Parc National des Volcans, home of Dian Fossey's research station and grave.
It also happens to be the cleanest city in Africa. In 2008 there was a ban placed on the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags and other similar materials, accompanied by a hefty fine and even imprisonment if vendors are caught selling them. The city also comes together on the last Saturday of the month in the spirit of 'Umuganda', a practice that stems from the Rwandan culture of self-help and cooperation. On these days citizens undertake clean ups, improve one another's homes, or perform other tasks in service of the community.
Opened on the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre is a sobering museum dedicated to the nearly one million people who lost their lives in the conflict. More than 250,000 people are buried at the centre, which has become an educational site with museums and exhibits dedicated to preventing genocides around the world. The genocide that saw 800,000 men, women and children killed receives a meaningful and tasteful tribute with three permanent exhibitions, including the Education Centre, Memorial Gardens, and National Documentation Centre of the Genocide.
Kigali experiences a pleasant, tropical highland climate with temperatures that vary depending on altitude, but vary little from month to month in the same location. There are two wet seasons and two dry seasons; a long and a short one. The wettest time of year is between March and May, while the driest months are July to September. There is also rain between October and November. Temperatures rarely go above 86°F (30°C) during the day or drop below 59°F (15°C).
Taxis are available in town. Motorcycle taxis are a cheaper option for direct travel, but the high speeds are not for the faint of heart. The cheapest way to get around Kigali is by matatus, the ubiquitous minibus taxis, which stop at any point along set routes. Rental vehicles are available, but not recommended for first time visitors as the roads around the country are in poor condition. Coach companies are available from Kigali for certain locations throughout Rwanda.
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