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Formerly known as Butare, Huye is the second most important city in Rwanda and commonly known as the cultural hub of this tiny East African country. Ravaged by genocide in the 1990s, Rwanda is gradually overcoming its past; however, it remains fairly untrodden in terms of tourism. However, this turbulent past and subsequent burgeoning recovery means there are some intriguing places to check out and things to do if you happen to be passing through.
For those with a strong stomach who want to learn more about the true extent of the atrocities committed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the Genocide Memorial in neighboring Murambi is one of the best places to do so. Located some 30km outside of Huye, this moving and emotional site is easy to reach and absolutely unforgettable. Guides are available to show you around the site and explain the significance of each area, as the memorial is situated in the very school where thousands of Tutsis were found and massacred by Hutus. Most certainly not for the fainthearted, particularly as skeletons of the deceased are on full display, but definitely a powerful experience that will change your outlook on life.
Designed by the Belgian architect Lode van Pee, the National Ethnographic Museum (also known as the Nation Museum of Rwanda) is perhaps the most recognized tourist attraction located in Huye. Its modern exterior is elegant and attractive, but the real interest in this building lies within, because as with the cathedral, the historical and cultural significance helps add greater weight to the architectural achievements of the place. This specialist museum details Rwanda’s pre-colonial past and has an excellent collection of artifacts, as well as explanations and the possibility for guided tours in English.
This interestingly named ice cream parlor, developed initially as a women’s economic empowerment initiative, has had many a travel guide list dedicated to it, and so can often be found more populated by tourists than locals. Meaning “sweet dreams” in Kinyarwanda, Inzozi Nziza is a great place to drop into if you’re craving a refreshing soft serve in the Rwandan heat. If you’re not sure what to get, try out the regularly rotating flavors of the day. Sometimes you’ll get coffee, sometimes passionfruit. Run by an all-female cooperative, there is even a documentary about this place. The hours are irregular, but it’s generally open from 9am-9pm daily.
If ice cream doesn’t take your fancy, then the place you need to check out is CXC Coffee, known interchangeably as Coffee Connection, C&C Café Connexion or Cox Coffee Shop. No confusion is to be had however, as this is pretty much the most well-known and best coffee in the city. Unassuming from the outside, this little roastery sells coffee beans by the kilo if you fancy taking some home, but is also a great café with friendly and welcoming staff that will gladly sell you smooth and rich coffee by the cup. Dominated by the huge and rather intimidating looking coffee machine, this café-of-many-names is one you should try.
By Lauren Cocking