Rwanda is so small it's possible to get reasonably far out of Kigali for a day trip with your family. Here are three great day trips that can be tailored to immerse your children in nature and/or history.
Huye (previously Butare) is only a two-hour drive from Kigali along good tarred roads. Whilst the town itself is interesting to explore, the most prominent tourist attract is the national Ethnographic Museum of Rwanda. The museum lies on the northern outskirts of the town alongside Kigali Road, and houses collections of exhibits on Rwandan history and culture.
The surrounding area of Huye also offers interesting cultural sites, including the huge Roman Catholic cathedral built in memory of Belgium's Princess Astrid, the Old Customs House in town, the University shop, the Centre Universitaire des Arts and, of course, the University of Rwanda that forms Huye's most important institution.
If you leave early you can reach the little lakeside town of Karongi (formerly Kibuye) as a round trip from Kigali. Hailed as one of the most relaxing and romantic places in Rwanda, it has beaches, water sport facilities and local boat tours. You can visit Napoleon's island, home to a colony of bats, or visit the Bisesero Genocide Memorial with breathtaking views of the lake.
This once hard to reach area is now super accessible due to the construction of an excellent surfaced road from Kigali to the Burundi border. The two main sites of interest, Nyabarongo Bridge and the Nyamata and Ntarama genocide memorials are easy to visit as a day trip from Kigali. The drive takes about 30 minutes in a self-driven car, or slightly longer in a mini-bus taxi.
Nyabarongo Bridge is a new bridge offering superb views over the Nyabarongo River, Rwanda's longest river and a tributary of the Akagera. It is an excellent place to spot birds including the pink-backed pelican, common moorhen, African jacana, three types of weaver, march flycatcher and black-headed gonolek.
The Catholic Church of Nyamata, the scene of a horrific massacre during the genocide, now displays the clothing and personal belongings of the 10,000 people murdered on the site and underground crypts hold their bodies as well as those who died elsewhere in Nyamata. Another genocide memorial at Ntarama, 1km away from Nyamata, is also the scene of a similar massacre.
The Kings Palace, Nyanza
Only two and a half hours outside of Kigali, The Kings Palace is the very well preserved palace of past Kings of Rwanda. The house of the King from 1931-1959 is still intact and inside holds objects and stories of Rwanda's history. You can also find a museum and national art gallery in the local vicinity. Visiting the area is a great way to learn more about Rwandan history and culture, as well as taking in the surrounding views.