Friday, June 21, 2024


If it came down to the coolest-sounding name, we would all be living in Kibagabaga. Due to the fact that it’s so far way from everything though, not so many foreigners end up living out here – but that’s been changing year on year. Kibagabaga is the area that ties together Kimironko and Gacuriro into one big happy line, and you can see the Kibagabaga hill across the valley from Nyarutarama.

Back when I arrived in Kigali in 2010, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t know that Kibagabaga even existed. It was some faraway place on the edges of the city that was made up mostly of countryside and houses under construction. Then, much to my annoyance, a good friend of mine moved out there and I found myself making the trek fairly regularly. But even back then the neighbourhood was still mostly residential and made up of a lot of empty building plots.

Fast forward to today and the neighbourhood has filled in with freakishly large, newly completed houses and a few offices have started to open up. Kibagabaga Hospital  is the main landmark here. So if you fall off your moto while cruising through (well, you’ll probably be really badly hurt regardless of how close the hospital is) you’re in prime position for hospital help.

Finding motos here used to be quite tricky but now that the area is well established, it’s on the paths of plenty of motos. There’s a bus route passing through here, too, but most people who live out here tend to have their own vehicle.

Accommodation in Kibagabaga

This area was mostly residential for ages but a few guesthouses have sprung up over the years, moving into the massive houses. Umusambi B&B, Villa Belle View, and Amigo all fit this description and would likely make good places to stay. Al Cobra Dubai is a brand new, purpose-built place with a pool and grass huts that looks like a nice place to stay as well as a cool hangout spot.

ViaVia Guesthouse, Kigali
  • ViaVia Guesthouse – This is a franchise of sorts and I’ve stayed in ViaVias in Addis Ababa and visited ones in Entebbe and Dakar. They’ve got a cool thing going as a collective with share values and a way of doing things, but they all remain individual. This is a great place to stay. The accommodation is spotless, amazing showers, great views, and a fabulous breakfast that’s included in the price. They’re also one of the few places in Kigali with a dorm room.

Restaurants & Cafes in Kibagabaga

There’s not a huge amount going on way out in Kibagabaga but there’s certainly a lot more here than there was a few years ago.

Pili Pili, Kigali
  • Pad Thai – This extremely tiny Thai place has a large menu, considering how small their kitchen must be. But they manage to crank out consistently delicious Thai dishes at excellent prices. Due to its location right on the side of a fairly busy road, it’s more of a takeaway place, but they do have a small seating area.
  • Pili Pili This place has become a sort of destination in itself. It’s a bar/restaurant/pool known for good grilled meat and a fun time. It’s a popular hang out spot on Sundays, especially for families and large groups of friends. The food and cocktails are good and the view is one of the best in Kigali.
  • ViaVia Travellers’ Cafe – Not just a guesthouse, also a lovely restaurant! It’s new and it’s great. The menu is small but creative and the plantains with peanut and ginger sauce are amazing. The place is friendly and inviting and it’s a great place to hang out with your computer while enjoying a nice meal. It’s also quote kid-friendly with a large grassy area with a small jungle gym.

Nightlife in Kibagabaga

Kibagabaga is definitely a one trick pony when it comes to nightlife. There used to be a few options including Caiman, a fun local bar that was demolished a few years ago and is now a sad, empty lot. There also used to be a sketchy-looking nightclub that I forget the name of and Sky Beirut, a swimming pool and bar that now lies empty and is super creepy. But all of them are closed and only one spot remains…

  • Pili Pili Not just a restaurant, it’s also a fun bar! This is one of the best spots in Kigali to watch football, though they’re quite good about putting on all sorts of international sports if you ask them. It gets quite lively on the weekends and it’s a relaxed and fun place to hang out.

Shopping in Kibagabaga

Ala-Li Creations, Pili Pili, Kigali

There’s really nothing in the way of shopping out here besides a few small supermarkets along the main road near the hospital. Fortunately, Kimironko Market isn’t so far and there’s also a Simba there. Or in the other direction you can find good things and meat at the Kigali Butchery inside MTN Centre. If you’re in search of souvenirs and beautiful Rwandan-made items, there’s a shop inside Pili Pili called Ala-li Creations. It’s wonderfully curated and they have quite a few things that can’t be found elsewhere, including chocolates!

Recreation & Entertainment in Kibagabaga

Pili Pili, Swimming Pools in Kigali

Sunset Spa is out here and it’s a popular place for all of your massage, mani/pedi, nail, and waxing needs. Pili Pili gets another mention… it’s a triple threat! Not just a restaurant, not just a fun bar… also a swimming pool! Oh, Pili Pili, is there anything you can’t do?

If your idea of recreation is going for a run (blech!) then Kibagabaga’s quiet streets are perfect and you’ll probably pass by lots of other runners on your travels.

Other Neigborhoods



  1. Dear Inga,
    Kibagabaga has relatively good transport facilities: there is now a regular minibus line, a taxi station of half a dozen cars right in front of the hospital – and moto-taxis are easy to find as well. There is a new appart block near the hospital, with one or two expats, and the nearby Akila Institute staff, etc.
    You may like to know that the name Kibagabaga comes from Cassia ‘Popcorn’, known in Kinyarwanda as umubagabaga or ikibagabaga (when large), a largish shrub endemic on the hill. One spontaneously grew in my garden, and it does smell like popcorn – or grilled groundnuts, etc.

  2. I’ve been looking at property there. I’m seeing houses for 1500 FRw/month? $2 USD? Is that correct? Is there some cost I’m missing?

    • Dear John,
      That’s the rent in a low-income settlement that still survives on one of the lower slopes of Kibagabaga hill. Rentals in the “modern” areas range from $500 to $1,500.


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