I’m a firm believer that one of the best ways to see a new city is by motorcycle. Peter has a motorcycle in Hong Kong and we love to rent motorbikes or scooters while we’re traveling (note that I am always the passenger and never the driver) so I was excited to hear that one of Kigali’s main modes of transportation is via motorcycle taxi aka moto taxi.
Each moto taxi driver wears a helmet and a distinct blue vest. They all carry an extra helmet for their passenger (although I found most of the passenger helmets to be way too big and dinky to actually provide any safety). To get around town, flag down a moto and let the pantomiming and questioning begin.
Moto drivers in Kigali do not use maps. Nor do many of them speak tons of English. There are certainly some major landmarks that motos will know but if you can’t direct your moto driver as you ride along then your best bet is to keep flagging down motos until you find one that knows the particular restaurant/shop/market that you’re going to
On my to-do list during my visit to Kigali was of course, to hop on a moto and visit a market or two. It’s no secret on this blog that I love local markets so I coerced my new coworker Purity to join me for a little market hopping.
Our first stop? Caplaki. We found stalls and stalls of wooden carvings, woven baskets, bags, and other souvenir handicrafts. Many of the stalls have the same or similar products, so we did a peek in to several before I settled on a few baskets to take home. Some of the vendors can be pushy when they ask you to come in to their stall to look at their goods, but we also came in the early evening on a Sunday so the market was largely empty. If you find something you like, don’t be afraid to haggle.
Peter loves the baskets I picked out which in my mind means I think I have the green light to buy more during my next trip to Rwanda (space is obviously limited in our tiny Hong Kong apartment which means so are impulse home purchases!).
From Caplaki we hopped on two moto taxis and made our way to Kimironko. Walking in to Kimironko was a bit of a sensory overload and the atmosphere is bustling and exciting. I didn’t get a chance to walk through the entire market but here you’ll find crowds shopping for fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish and also clothes, shoes, home goods, and hardware.
I was on the hunt for fabrics and I was not disappointed when I finally found the stalls with colourful, bright patterns of fabric hanging from floor to ceiling. Purity and I haggled for several pieces of fabric and I think we could’ve easily bought a dozen more! All of the fabrics were sooo beautiful!
Kimironko has plenty of tailors on site who will offer to make your fabric in to a custom dress, but since I was short on time, I had a few dresses made on my last trip to Shenzhen (hopefully to be revealed after I pick them up this weekend).
There are more markets and places that I still need to visit in Kigali so I can’t wait to make another trip to see our team in Kigali and to sneak in some time to explore.