Butare (Huye)

Huye (Butare) is one of the most distinguished towns in Rwanda, having served as the country’s most prominent intellectual centre since the colonial era. Home to the National University of Rwanda, the National Institute of Scientific Research and the excellent National Museum of Rwanda, Huye may be a step down in size after the capital, but it’s certainly no lightweight on the Rwandan stage.
Historically speaking, Huye has always played a prominent role in regional affairs. During the era of Belgian occupation, the town was the colonial administrative headquarters of the northern half of Ruanda-Urundi. While Huye may have lost a bit of ground to Kigali after independence, today it still manages to maintain its political relevance, especially since it’s ruled by legions of Rwanda’s academic elite.
While Huye isn’t a tourist destination in the traditional sense, it’s nevertheless an interesting stopover and the heavy concentration of liberal college students roaming the streets makes for an interesting atmosphere.


Population: 89,600 (2015)



Butare has a tropical climate. Butare is a city with a significant rainfall. Even in the driest month there is a lot of rain.


The mere mention of Rwanda justifiably brings to mind images of the horrendous genocide of 1994, let’s be honest. The reality in 2007 is though, Rwanda is a much safer country than most African nations. Crime still occurs, but Rwandans are amongst the friendliest people in Africa. The genocide is still a touchy issue though and if you don’t need to bring the topic up – don’t. Many people lost family and will not want to talk about it. Approach this beatiful mountainous land with the same caution as anywhere in Africa, but realistically, in comparison to places like neighbouring Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda is noticeably much safer and enjoyable.

Public Transport

There are several minibus companies that make their way from Kigali to Butare. One of them recommended is Volcano. It easy to find in the Kigali domestic bus station.
Butare 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).

Point of Interest

Hotel Ibis

Royal Palace of Nyanza


National Museum of Rwanda

The National Museum of Rwanda in Butare is the flagship institution of the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda. The museum’s collections contain maps, photos, historical materials, architectural and ethnographic displays, art objects, and artifacts documenting agriculture, hunting, fishing, basketry, pottery, textiles, wood-carving, and metallurgy. The museum’s grounds are the site of gardens containing indigenous vegetation and a traditional craft training center.
Collection materials in the Rwanda Genocide Archive from the National Museum of Rwanda include testimonies on Rwandan history given by elders in the community, photographs from the Museum’s holdings, and historical audio and video.

Butare Stadium

Stade Huye is a multi-use stadium in Butare, Rwanda. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home ground of Mukura Victory Sports FC and INTARE FC. The stadium holds 20 000 people.

Butare Cathedral

Butare Cathedral was a gift from the Belgian King Albert and Queen Astrid. It was erected between 1936 and 1937 with the intention of making Astrida the capital of Rwanda-Urundi protectorate; native porters laboriously carried building materials from Congo and Nyungwe Forest. This great church, the largest in Rwanda, was built to help strengthen Christianity as well as the power of the then Belgian colonial administration.

The Rwandan National Institute of Scientific Research

The Rwandan National Institute of Scientific Research can be found in Butare – a scientific institution that plays an important role in science and technology in Rwanda. The institute has worked with the National University of Rwanda in the Phytomedicine and Life Sciences Research Plan that began research into pharmacopeia and traditional medicine in the country at the National University of Rwanda in 1972 in the Faculty of Medicine. The Rwandan National Institute of Scientific Research later became involved and also collaborates with researchers from the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) and researchers from the Institute of Agronomic Sciences of Rwanda (ISAR).

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