Kigali International Airport is also referred to as Kanombe International Airport and is located in Kanombe southeastern part of Kigali center, 5km from the city center and 10km from the business district. Kigali international airport was formally known as Gregoire Kayibanda international airport and is the main serving airport for Kigali capital city and other destinations. Kigali international airport has three terminals namely the main terminal which operates international flights and it was built to replace the small building that is now serving as a VIP terminal. The second terminal operates domestic flights and the third terminal is the cargo terminal. The main terminal is also capable of handling up to 6 small medium-sized aircraft up to a Boeing 747 Jet.
Kigali International Airport terminal is one of the highest in the world because it is located 1491metres above sea level and has over 3500 meters of the runway which allows different aircraft to land and the southern end of the runway has 2 helicopter pads that allow passengers to easily access the main runway. Kigali international airport was ranked the 7th for being among the best regional airports in Africa in 2014 because of its fire or safety standards and in 2017 was ranked the second in Africa for its compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
Kigali International Airport serves as a hub or gateway for Rwanda air which is the national airline carrier in Kigali. Rwanda air began operations in 2002 and is one of the safest and fastest-growing airlines in Africa. Rwanda air received an international air transport association safety audit for ground operations in 2016 and the airline flies to different countries such as Africa, Asia, Middle East, United States, Europe among others. Kigali international airport used to have offices in the centenary house in Kigali but now its offices are on the top floor of the airport main building. There are also other offices of Akagera Aviation and Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority within the airport.
Kigali International Airport is served by different International Airlines, for example, Brussels Airline, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airline, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, KLM, Turkish Airlines, South African Airways, and Rwanda Air which is a domestic airline in Rwanda.
Requirements at Kigali International Airport
While at the airport in Kigali you are supposed to have travel documents which will allow you to enter the country and they include
- A passport, visitors should have a passport which should be valid for six months from the date of entry and the passport should have one blank page for the stamps.
- Visa, the visitor should possess a visa that should either be acquired in advance through online or acquired on arrival at the airport.
- Yellow vaccination certificate, visitors should have a yellow fever certificate in case they are coming from a yellow fever endemic country and if you don’t have the certificate the tests will be carried out on arrival at Kigali international airport.
- Enough funds, while at the airport visitors are asked to present the bank statements so as to know if they have enough funds to spend while in Kigali and the reason for travel, therefore, you will present an itinerary offered by the tour operator.
Kigali international airport has easily accessible facilities and services such as
- Duty-free shops where they sell souvenirs, clothing’s, newspapers
- Parking lounge, bars
- Waiting rooms for the passenger waiting for their departure flights with free Wi-Fi
- Sanitary facilities
- ATM cash machines
- Cafeterias like the bourbon café where they sell coffee and food
- Forex Bureau for currency exchange
- Mobile charging ports
- Facilities for the disabled with wheelchairs
- Airport ambulance for emergency
- Transport facilities such as taxis, car rentals, shuttles, and buses
Kigali international airport is the best airport in east Africa though smalls and in order to accommodate the big number of passengers at the airport, the government is planning to replace the current airport with new Kigali Bugesera airport which will be located south of Kigali on the southern side of Nyabarongo river in Bugesera.
Kigali has a wide range of attractions and activities which make the visitors’ tour amazing and they include
Kigali convention center, the convention center is located next to the famous Radisson blue hotel and was built in shape of a beehive with the lights that look amazing at night. The architectural design of the Kigali convention center was inspired by the king’s palace in Nyanza which is built in the same design.
Nyamirambo women’s center, is a non-government organization that was opened in 2007 by a group of local Rwandan women who were victims of gender violence. The women’s center organizes English language training, computer classes and provides modern sewing machines for the women who were victims and they produce various items such as bags, clothes made of local fabrics among others. The women’s center also organizes walks in Kigali which exposes the visitors to the rural setting where they see how local people live, visit the natural history museum, local parks and shops among others.
Gaddafi mosque, Gaddafi mosque is located in Nyamirambo and is designed in a unique architectural design. This mosque was not constructed by Colonel Gaddafi, former president of Libya but it was named after him because he constructed a road that passes near the mosque.
Kigali genocide memorial, the memorial was built in honor of over 200,000 people that were victims of the genocide. It was built to remind people of the reasons and the history that occurred in 1994 where people were killed and slaughtered. During your visit to Kigali genocide memorial, you will see images of the young children that were killed, videos and audio recordings of the victims which give you painful experience.
Kimironko market, is the largest local market in Kigali city and is comprised of a collection of vegetables, fruits, clothes, craft shops with local Rwandese fabrics among others. During the visit to Kimironko market, you will get an opportunity to interact with the local people.
Climb Mount Kigali, mount Kigali is the highest hill in Kigali which reaches 6,000feet. Mount Kigali hike starts from Nyamirambo and it’s a gentle slope hike hence favors all the people even the lazy hikers. On top of the hill, you will have great views of Kigali city.
Kigali international airport servers several neighboring countries in that it acts as a connecting and transit airport to various destinations such as Burundi, Bukavu, and Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda.