Once known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, and often referred to as Kanombe International Airport due to its strategic location, Kigali International Airport serves as Rwanda’s main aerial portal. Yet, its significance transcends national boundaries, as it plays a pivotal role for travelers from neighboring countries like Congo, Burundi, and Uganda.
Situated at Kanombe in the eastern part of Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali International Airport stands just 5 kilometers away from the bustling town center. It holds the key to accessing Rwanda through air transport, facilitating connections for both local and international travelers. Moreover, for those journeying to the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kigali acts as a bridge, making it easier to access destinations like Goma town, Bukavu, and the renowned Virunga National Park.
Beyond being a gateway to Rwanda, Kigali International Airport has taken on a new role: a pivotal entry point to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda. These renowned destinations beckon travelers with the allure of gorilla tracking, offering a chance to witness nearly half of the world’s entire population of mountain gorillas.
Perched at an impressive altitude of 1491 meters above sea level, the terminal at Kigali International Airport boasts one of the highest positions among international airports worldwide. With its 3500-meter runway, the airport accommodates various aircraft types, a feature that has contributed to a steady increase in passenger traffic. By 2017, the airport had welcomed approximately 800,000 passengers, a testament to its growing importance.
Comprising three terminals and two heliports, Kigali International Airport offers a dynamic infrastructure. The main terminal, a replacement for the smaller structure now dedicated to VIP services, stands as the focal point. Another terminal caters to cargo activities, a hub of bustling trade due to Rwanda’s geographic isolation. However, the topography of Kigali and the surging passenger traffic present challenges to the current airport’s capacity. Recognizing this, plans for a new airport are underway in Bugesera, situated 40 kilometers south of Kigali. This ambitious project, currently being executed in partnership with the Portuguese company Mota-Engil Engenharia e Constructor Africa, aims to provide enhanced facilities and expand the airport’s capacity to serve up to 4.5 million passengers once completed.
Kigali International Airport holds a special place for travelers embarking on safaris to Rwanda’s iconic national parks, including Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park, and Nyungwe Forest National Park. The passenger traffic to these destinations has grown in tandem with the development of tourism in Rwanda and the allure of neighboring gorilla destinations in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The airport’s historical narrative is as diverse as its services. During the Rwandan civil war, Kigali International Airport held strategic importance as a gateway to a landlocked country. However, it was marred by tragedy when, in April 1994, the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were shot down as their plane prepared to land. This event marked a turning point, leading to the infamous Rwandan genocide. From the ashes of this dark history, the airport has risen to become not only a symbol of transformation but also one of Africa’s most remarkable airports, showcasing the resilience of the nation.
Within this landscape, Rwanda Air emerges as the national carrier, connecting travelers domestically and internationally across East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The head office of Rwanda Air resides within the iconic structure of Kigali International Airport, a testament to the airport’s significance.
The journey through Kigali International Airport is complemented by a range of amenities. Luxurious VIP lounges offer comfort and relaxation, while the waiting area provides access to WiFi. Services like ATMs, a post office, bar, and restaurants cater to various needs. Tight security, luggage wrapping, and baggage dispute facilities ensure a seamless experience for all travelers.
With Trek Africa Tours, your journey through Kigali International Airport takes on a new dimension. Our professional driver guides await your arrival, seamlessly transferring you to your next destination or hotel as per your safari program. On your return, they ensure you catch your flight back home. For those extending their stay, our guides facilitate transport arrangements for your convenience.
Kigali International Airport stands as a portal not only to a country but to a multitude of experiences and narratives. It’s a threshold that connects cultures, facilitates exploration, and embodies transformation. As the plane touches down and the adventure unfolds, the airport remains a steadfast companion, embodying the spirit of Rwanda’s enduring journey.