If you find yourself with a weekend to spare in Rwanda, be sure to visit Kigali for a dose of culture and Gisenyi to unwind.
What to do in Rwanda…
In the capitol, Kigali, you can visit the genocide memorial museum and Hotel Des Mille Collines where the hotel manager, Paul Rusesabagina, managed to hide and save the lives of over 1,000 Tutsi during the Rwandan genocide.
The memorial is surreal, especially standing in the final resting place of over 200,000 victims. It is hard to fathom something so horrific happening during our lifetime, and it is especially hard to comprehend the brutality of people turning on their own family and friends. The absolute most unbearable part, is the pictures of young children and their bios of how they were murdered. So be warned and bring tissue.
On a happier note, you can spend the next day in Gisenyi recovering, swimming and laying on the beach at Lake Kivu, which borders the Congo. There are a few hotels that charge $5/day to use their lounge chairs (which can be a nice alternative to the free public beaches where local men might gawk at your uncovered skin).
What to expect…
Rwanda has done a fantastic job combating litter! You are not allowed to bring any plastic bags into the country (they confiscate them at the border) and there are readily available trash cans on the streets. The roads don’t have potholes, there are traffic lights, crosswalks, sidewalks, and you wear helmets on motos (motorcycle taxis)! The people are very friendly and the countries structures seem more established compared to its East African neighbors. The locals I met, spoke very highly of the president and praise the job he has done at fighting corruption in the government.
Be sure to check visa requirements right before you go because they change frequently.