Huye is the third city of Rwanda, located in the south. It was formerly known as Butare and many maps and official documents still refer to Butare. Huye is the capital of Huye district, which was again Butare district prior to its dissolution in 2006. It is said to have about 80,000 inhabitants. It is famous for hosting the National University, the National Museum (unique in Africa) and being near to Nyanza, where the palace of the former king (the so-called mwami) is.
There are several minibus companies make their way from Kigali to Huye. One of them recommended is Volcano. It is easy to find in the Kigali Domestic bus station. The fee is 2500 RFr one way.
Huye has plenty of taxis, motorcycle taxis, and bicycle taxis, all of which will be eager to serve you. Also, you can walk from the northernmost part of Huye (the bus station) to the southernmost (the University of Rwanda) in about 20 minutes. (The taxis exist mainly to take Rwandans to their homes farther outside the city).
- 1 National Museum of Rwanda. The National Museum is a surprisingly comprehensive and interesting museum. Even travellers knowledgeable about recent Rwandan history will learn much about Rwanda's colonial and post-colonial governments, as well as the Tutsi monarchy which pre-dated both of these. Many of Rwanda's idiosyncratic cultural attributes will make more sense after a visit to the national museum. 5000 RWF for non residents
- Huye Market. Huye has a bustling market that is open every day except Saturday. Although there will be no souvenirs on sale, this market is an excellent way to learn how Rwandans shop for their everyday needs. Be prepared to bargain.
- 1 National University of Rwanda. Although a stroll through the University would take at most 20 minutes, it is a worthwhile trip to see an active African university. Students here are almost all on full scholarship, selected by test performance; they sleep two to a bed in dorms located on campus.
- 2 Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre. In 1994, Murambi was the site of a large massacre at a vocational school where several hundred Tutsis were hiding. It was turned into one of the most compelling and graphic genocide memorials with preserved bodies on display. The memorial is located near Nyamagabe, which is about 20 minutes west of Huye along the road to Cyangugu. Regular buses go to Nyamagabe which is 3km from the sign-posted site. Bus fare is 450 RWF, a motorbike to the side and back to Nyamagabe should cost no more than 2000 RWF.
- 3 Nyanza (25 km north of Huye on NR 1). Nyanza is a small town with a market, and a few hotels. Main attraction in the Museum of the Kings Palace. Entrance 6000 RWF, including a personal guide. You can visit the traditional palace and the modern home of the king built in the 1930s. The palace is out of town, half an hour walk or 300 RWF by moto-taxi.
- Souvenir Shop (next to Cafe Connexion). Shop with lots of handicraft: woodcarvings, baskets, printed cards.
The most reliable restaurant in Huye is the restaurant at the Hotel Ibis on the main street. However, much of the Ibis's fare is Belgian instead of Rwandan. For Rwandan fare, try the Restaurant Macrobiotique, which is located on the same side of the main road as the Hotel Ibis, but farther towards the university. It is a popular place for students to take their meals.
For lunch, try the nameless lunch restaurant located across the street from the Ibis and a little to the right (as you face away from Ibis). It is to the right of the craft store. For lunch they offer classic Rwandan comfort food: brochettes (goat kabobs), plantains, sweet potatoes, boiled cassava, beans, and rice. It is excellent.
According to local people several years ago the government passed a law requiring that all government employees only had 30 minutes for lunch each day, this lead to the creation of lunch buffets across Rwanda that allowed for these workers to fill up on food and get back to the office in time. For one of these ubiquitous buffets head to Amafu Restaurant on the second floor across the street from Hotel Ibis. The menu changes depending on the day, but usually you can find soup, rice, beans, potatoes, sombe (kassava leaves), pasta, salad, and meat. A vegetarian plate costs 3000. Beef is 500 extra and chicken and fish 1500 extra.
If you walk towards the University you will find Hotel Credo on the left side, they have a swimming pool and a restaurant. Opposite of this hotel there is the ice cream parlour Nzozi Nziza where you can get ice cream, very nice cakes and cookies.
An excellent place for dinner is the Chinese restaurant located across the street from the market, behind the gas station. Chinese workers built most of the paved roads in Rwanda, and a few Chinese restaurants survived their departure. This one serves a variety of chicken, pork, vegetarian, and beef dishes.
There is a nameless dance club in Huye that is open on Friday and Saturday nights. It is located on the right side of the road which leads to the market from the main road (a quick inquiry at the Hotel Ibis can yield more specific directions). The club serves beer and liquor.
Basically every restaurant in Huye is also a bar, in hotel Faucon also on the main road, towards Kigali if you leave from Ibis there is a bar with TV specialized on football (soccer) and on Fridays and Saturdays they have a disco.
If you travel the main road towards the University just after you left town and you go down hill there is Cafe Connexion on your right side, you can drink the best cappuccino served in Rwanda there and you can buy the coffee in the shop. Inside you will see the equipment they use to make this excellent coffee. (If the owner is around he is also demonstrating the coffee roasting if you ask him).
By far the best hotel in Huye is the Hotel Ibis, which has been a Huye (Butare) landmark since the 1940s. Run by a Belgian family for several decades, the Ibis is the only hotel in Huye that has a reliable restaurant open every day of the week, as well as hot water and electricity virtually 24/7. A large patio with outdoor seating is ideal for consumption of Mutzig or Primus (popular beers in Rwanda) or the occasional sorghum beer.
Of course, one popular strategy is to stay at another (cheaper) hotel and eat at the Ibis restaurant, which is open to everyone.
- Shalom Guesthouse (Near the university old rectory, at the southern end of the town.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Run by the Anglican Church. 8 en-suite rooms (30000 RWF). spotlessly clean. shared balconies. lounge for guests. TV in all rooms, but not always functioning. Also a number of small rooms (6000 RWF). 6000-30000 RWF.
- 1 Hôtel des Beaux-Arts. Rooms from 5000 as of 10/2014.
- Motel du Mont Huye. A bit off the main road, offers quiet and clean rooms along a garden shared with velvet monkeys. Meals are around 3000 RWF.
- 2 Hôtel Faucon, ☏ . On the main road. The Hôtel Faucon was the private residence of the king and queen of Belgium during the colonial era. Has a bar/restaurant which serves standard meals for 3500 RWF. (In Feb 2017 closed and abandonded!)
The concierge at the Hotel Ibis is usually an excellent source of information. Cafe Connexion is a meeting place, also for foreigners living in Huye, the are often easy to engange into a chat.so acoss tis aafeurch
All regional and national Busses leave from bus station at the north end of the main road. Bus to Kigali takes 2,5-3 hours, leaves every full hour on time, sometimes also half the hour. To go to Karonig/Kibuye take a bus to Muhanga/Gitarama (bus to Kigali) and change there, takes 4 hours in total. Buses to Nyamza leave every full hour and need 50 Min.