I have always been keen on knowing my city well. So, on a balmy Friday evening, I joined a group of domestic tourists on a Kigali sightseeing tour in the new open-top bus, the first of its kind in Rwanda, that was introduced two weeks ago.
Parked at the Kigali Business Centre mall, which was our meeting point, we saw the white open-top double-decker bus waiting for us as we arrived.
We were set to depart at 7pm for the night tour, but there was a delay as we waited for some tourists. The guide welcomed us into the bus, and we climbed up to the top deck.
The air was cool at the top ,as we settled into our seats and buckled our safety belts. We set off a few minutes later and cruised down the Kimihurura Boulevard.
Our tour guide took us through a brief history of Kigali, giving details of when the city came to be.
This was quite exciting for a history buff like me, and I listened keenly to the facts and figures about Kigali. The tour was a perfect way to spend a Friday evening.
For those with a wish to see certain sites in the city, the tour is an affordable way of doing so as they allow passengers to hop on and off at will, all day and night long.
The urban safari started in Kimihurura, through Rwandex, taking us through Kigali's old industrial zone where you can see the old factories, though most have shifted to the new Special Economic Zone.
We went through Sonatube to Kicukiro centre, which has fast-moving traffic. We ascended up the hill through the steep Rebero suburb, perhaps Kigali's steepest terrain, where we got a glimpse of Kigali's panoramic views overlooking the Central Business District to the vibrant Nyamirambo.
While on the bus, the guide answered our questions and went to great lengths to make sure that everyone was having a good time. He also described what we were seeing along the way.
We drove to Gikondo, where we alighted for our first stop and some refreshments.
After a brief stop, we proceeded to Nyamirambo -- a bustling neighbourhood unlike the rest of the city.
From Nyamirambo, we travelled to Remera; we stopped at Fuschia Lounge Bar where we ate, danced and enjoyed the music at the liveliest bar in Kigali.
Passengers then went on a pub crawl and partied for nearly an hour before going back to the starting point at nearly 1 am.
Kigali City Tour Ltd offers three-hour tours in three shifts. The first is from 9am to 12pm. It involves visiting "Old Kigali," particularly areas such as Nyamirambo, Kimisagara and Nyabugogo.
Other sites include the Prime Minister's Office, Payage, Sainte Famille Church, Umuhima Hill, Rubangura place, and the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
The second shift is from 2pm to 5pm, where tourists see the "new developments in the city." The bus goes to Nyarutarama, parts of Kigali and Kibagabaga.
The sites include the Knowledge Lab, Inema Arts Centre, Gacuriro and Vision City estates, Kimironko market and the Heroes Memorial.
The evening tour starts from 7pm to 11pm. The bus goes through Kicukiro and Rebero where they can have a "proper night view of Kigali."
The sights include Kicukiro BDC, Nyanza Genocide memorial Site, Kigali Cultural Village, Kigali Panorama vantage points, Kimihurura and Gisimenti.
Tickets for the city tour cost $50 for a foreign national, Rwf25,000 ($27) for citizens of the East African Community and Rwf15,000 ($16) for locals.