Rwanda’s progress is remarkable. The country is clean and green, where plastic bags are illegal, and nothing ever looks out of place on the streets. The vibrancy you associate with East Africa – colorful dresses, beaming smiles, a gregarious atmosphere on the streets – is enhanced by a modern touch, especially in capital city Kigali. In your first two hours, you will be nearly unable to imagine that this is a country ravaged so recently. Make a stop at Kimironko Market to absorb the smiles and smells, along with the shouts of traders that flutter past laden stalls. Enjoy lunch at one of the up and coming restaurants in the city, where the food is building on the nourishment of tradition.
Through the afternoon, you will visit three genocide memorials, each with a different angle on the story to give you a complete perspective. The National Genocide Centre provides context, detailing the events leading up to the tragedy, pulling no punches in its vehement criticism of the UN and the broader international community. Beneath the ground are the bodies of more than 250,000, just one insight into the scale. At Nyamata Church and Murambi, you will witness what took place as clothes hang from rafters, blood stains cover walls, bones are stacked in piles while survivors narrate the tales, and it will be difficult not to be moved to tears, standing in these haunting places untouched since 1994. There is also the heartwarming element as when you look at the past, you can appreciate just how far Rwanda has moved forward. The evening is free as you settle in from any jet lag, and your hotel has an excellent restaurant at your disposal.