Kigali always surprises its visitors as there is something softly Parisian about Rwanda’s small capital with its broad, tree-lined lanes and classical architecture. The cleanliness is immediately apparent as there is not a scrap of trash anywhere in the city; plastic bags are illegal here, an indication of the country’s forward-looking approach to being clean and green. You will be greeted at the airport for a short transfer to your five-star hotel in the heart of the city with a restaurant that has become the hip place for a gourmet city lunch. Take lunch at this restaurant and meet your guide to talk over your plans for the next ten days. This time together will also bring a chance to take in an overview of Rwanda and its remarkable history, one that is complemented by two places you will visit in the afternoon.
Rwanda was a German colony ten years before any European had ever ventured into its green hills. Africa is filled with haunting stories of the takeover, but surely none can be as belligerent as this, the country declared part of Germany without the colonialists even rolling in with an army. The building blocks of the 1994 genocide start with this abuse of power. You will visit the Belgium memorial site from 1907, marking where Kigali was founded and a great point to start a history that did not spread much out of Rwanda. Move next to compare this starting point with the warm welcomes of today, found in the extremely colorful Kimilonko Market. You will quickly see that the people of Rwanda do not hold a grudge but use openness and honesty to build a brighter future. The evening will be at your leisure as you settle in for your adventures ahead.