Heart Of The African Lakes: Kigali

The Capital Of Rwanda, Which Enjoys Summer Year Round Due To Its Location On The Equator, Kigali Is Just The Spot For A Safe Trip In Africa With Its Silverback Gorillas, Emerald Lakes And Authentic Markets.

A country of 12 million in southeastern Africa, Rwanda is truly a land that breaks down prejudices. And Kigali, six and a half hours by air from Istanbul, is a modern capital in every sense. The domestic strife of the 1990’s is far behind now. Signs saying ‘Never again’ hang almost everywhere so that those dark days will not be experienced again. Cleanliness is the first thing that strikes the eye in this country that makes guests feel nature and tranquility at every step. A woman’s hand, if you will, has touched the avenues that run from Kigali Airport, where we were greeted with folk dances, to the city center. In this country which is second in the world in terms of number of women in parliament, city workers removing dust from the streets with brooms, even with their hands, are a frequent sight. Banned for polluting the environment, plastic bags have given way to paper sacks. The temperature in this country, which lies on the same latitude as its next door neighbor Kenya, ranges between 22 and 28 ˚C year round. The sudden rains that occur during the daytime have blessed the land with luxuriant nature. The air is clean and pure in this country set on a broad plateau between rugged mountains. Thanks to effective extermination methods, mosquitos are no longer a problem. Houses, markets and clothing are vibrant in Kigali, which is seeking its future in tourism. Most shopping centers are open 24/7, and construction of the new five-star hotels is almost complete. Our first stop in the capital is the Genocide Museum. Together with our guide, Lambert Kanamugire, we observe a moment of silence for the close to one million people who were killed in Rwanda. In the afternoon our first destination is Lake Kivu on the border with Congo. But first we are going to sample the local flavors. Seafood served with wild mountain herbs, seasoned potatoes, organic country chicken, tropical fruit and goat meat, are the backbone of Rwanda cuisine. For the finale, there is of course the famous Rwandan coffee. The three-hour road from Kigali to Lake Kivu winds through misty valleys between banana and tea plantations. The giant mushroom-shaped trees stained orange by the setting sun are of dazzling beauty. The country’s largest lake, Kivu’s shores are lined with beaches and comfortable hotels. Spotting the mosque in the city of Gisenyi on the lake shore is easy. Rwanda, five percent of whose population is Muslim, is a country well worth seeing for its colorful markets and its natural-wonder lakes and national parks.

Volcans National Park in western Rwanda boasts one of the world’s most important silverback gorilla reserves. Numerous agents in Kigali organize gorilla safaris starting from 500 U.S. dollars per person.

Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Kigali-Istanbul flights four days a week. Departure times are 6:35 p.m. from Istanbul and 00:55 a.m. from Kigali. www.turkishairlines.com