Rwanda (‘the Land of a Thousand Hills’) is not the place many people might think of as a child-friendly holiday destination, however, there is plenty to see and do with children in this beautiful country.
Experience local customs
From crafting, banana juice-making, traditional construction, cooking, candle-dipping, homestays, to drumming and dancing, the Azizi Life Experiences in Muhanga-Gitarama gives you and your family a chance to truly understand the Rwandan way of life. During these day trips, you are fully immersed in Rwandan culture, meeting the local people and experiencing their everyday life.
Directions: Azizi Life, Gitarama Road, Gitarama, Rwanda; Contact: +250 785 781 146
Sleep under the stars
Who wouldn’t love to camp in a beautiful national park full of elephants, giraffe, zebra, buffalo and lions? Camping in the fenced area of south of Akagera National Park is an unforgettable experience for any family. Bring your own tent or rent one for the staff to erect for you. Firewood is provided, as are BBQ areas, running fresh water and long-drop toilets. Don’t forget to bring your marshmallows, then enjoy sitting by the fire under a star-filled sky and listening for the sounds of the wildlife that surround your camp.
Escape the city
Enjoy being away from the city and relax by the lakeside of Lake Kivu. As you lounge by the lakeside, local boats will pull up and offer you trips to the small islands and the hot springs. Remember to haggle for a great price on your boat ride and be aware of the weather (if it looks like rain is coming, it’s best not to go offshore). If you feel like splurging then stay at the fabulous Serena Lake Kivu Hotel. Their standard rooms have two double beds, which is perfect for a small family.
Directions: Serena Lake Kivu Hotel Ave de la Cooperation, Gisenyi, Rwanda; Contact: +250 252 541 100
Canoe on the Mukungwa River
Get a different view of Rwanda as you navigate the Mukungwa River in your canoe. Kingfisher Journeys welcome children from four years old to join in their half-day canoeing trips, which take off from Musanze. Enjoy the beautiful diversity of Rwanda’s countryside, wildlife and water life, and meet some members of the local communities that live along the riverside – a wonderful experience for all ages.
Directions: Kingfisher Journeys, Greenhill EcoTours, Near Serena Hotel, Ave de Independance, Gisenyi, Rwanda; Contact: +250 783 811 918
Get out of the rain in a soft-play area
Rain can be very unpredictable in Rwanda. When you are caught out with a couple of days of rain and you have children that need to escape from home, then head to the indoor soft-play area at Monaco Café. You pay per hour for your children to enjoy the play area while you can sit back and relax with a drink and some food. Be prepared to pay for more than one hour to let your children explore.
Monaco Café, KN 82 St, Kigali, Rwanda +250 733 253 788
Indulge in a long hotel brunch
There are various four and five-star hotels in Kigali that offer fabulous long brunches over the weekends. From morning to late afternoon, you can sit back and relax while all your food and drinks are provided. Use of the swimming pool is normally included in the brunch price and helps to keep children well entertained. The Kigali Marriott Hotel weekend brunch includes the use of a bouncy castle near the swimming pool, so extra entertainment for the children!
Directions: Kigali Marriott Hotel, KN 3 Avenue, Kigali, Rwanda; Contact: +250 222 111 111
Ride a horse
Fazenda Sengha offers horse riding lessons every day of the week. Situated on top of Mount Kigali, the views are spectacular, so sit back and relax while your children enjoy the horse riding. You can also join in with them for a family horse riding lesson. Take a picnic and stay for lunch; there are tables to use and lots of green space for the children to run and around. Also on offer is a zip line and horse trails for when you want to head off course.
Directions: Fazenda Sengha, Kigali, Rwanda; Contact: +250 788 551 787
Work up an appetite
Public playgrounds are non-existent in Rwanda, but there are some great restaurants that offer play spaces perfect for entertaining children. CasaKeza, Century Park Tung Chinese Cuisine, Heaven and Pili Pili are some of the restaurants you can choose from. These restaurants all have various forms of outdoor play areas, indoor play houses, toys, sandpits, live animals, grassy areas and swimming pools, not to mention delicious food for the whole family to enjoy. At Heaven Restaurant you will find a great kids’ menu and a playground. Plus, on weekends, there are craft activities for children offered at the adjoining Azizi Life Boutique.
Explore and shop
From the smells to the vibrant colours to the happy people, Kimironko Market is quite the shopping experience. Bring along your shopping bags and stock up on everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to second-hand clothing. Kimironko Market has everything you could possibly imagine (and some things you couldn’t!). Remember to bring cash and barter like the locals do.
Directions: Kimironko Market, Kigali, Rwanda