RWANDA TRAVEL ADVICE

Up-to-date, relevant travel information direct from the experts – get essential Rwanda Travel Advice before you go.

Money & Spending

Rwanda’s unit of currency is the Rwandan franc but we’d recommend bringing US dollars (post-2003 bills only) or euros in cash (traveller’s cheques usually attract poor exchange rates). Do any necessary banking in Kigali as few opportunities exist outside the capital – bureaux de change establishments usually offer the best exchange rates.

Credit cards – notably MasterCard – are accepted in some of the upmarket hotels and restaurants in Kigali but not in many other places.

Tipping

Tipping is not customary in most places in Rwanda, with the exception of some higher-end restaurants in town where 10% of the final bill is standard. If you are doing a gorilla trek, tipping is not compulsory but it will be greatly appreciated – amounts vary depending on the size of your group and the level of assistance required. Your porter (if you choose to take one) should usually receive the highest tip, with a second tip distributed between your guides, trackers and security personnel.

Bear in mind that some guides, porters and trackers are former poachers who now rely on tourists and travellers to make a living. Your generosity helps them see the value of keeping gorillas and chimps alive.

It is worth hiring a porter to help you during the trek: he or she can assist you over tricky parts of the hike, offer support and carry your daypack if you find yourself fatigued on the hike back. Tip your porter well for excellent service.

For in-depth tipping guidelines, enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts – they’d be happy to share their knowledge with you.

Climate

Average year-round temperatures are about 12°C / 54°F to 27°C / 81°F.

Rainy seasons: March to April and October to mid-December. The easiest gorilla trekking is during the dry seasons from June to September, and late December to February.

Refer to Best Time To Visit Rwanda for climate charts and advice on the best times of year for gorilla trekking.

 

What to Pack

You’ll need to be suitably equipped for gorilla trekking in Rwanda – preparation is key. When packing for your Rwanda safari, be sure to include long, thick trousers and long-sleeved tops, long socks or gaiters to wear over your trousers as protection against ants, a pair of light gloves to protect against nettles, a hat, a raincoat and of course a pair of sturdy, comfortable hiking boots (break them in before your trip).

It can get cold and damp on the mountains at altitude so pack a change of clothes and a warm fleece in your day pack, along with sunscreen and insect repellent.

Stinging nettles are one of the gorillas’ main food sources so there are bound to be thick patches of nettles when you encounter a gorilla family. We recommend wearing the thickest trousers possible to protect your legs against scratches and gardening or other gloves to protect your hands (you may have to grasp vegetation from time to time to steady yourself on the trek).

Other Useful Tips:

Avoid wearing strong fragrances as animals have an acute sense of smell and may retreat from unfamiliar scents.

Dress in the colours of nature ie browns and greens. Animals are aware of contrast and bright colours, white and strong patterns create the highest contrast against the forest background, once again making game keep their distance.

Do not wear black or blue as these colours seem to attract tsetse flies and other bugs.

Ensure your bug spray is environmentally friendly.

If you can, bring extra stationery, toys or footballs for the village children. Read our useful blog on Easy Ways to ‘Give Back’ on your African Vacation here.

Consult your doctor or travel clinic about vaccinations and medication to help you cope with the altitude, if necessary. Many of the country’s roads are very ‘twisty’ or windy, so consider bringing anti-motion sickness medication if you get car sick.

Flights & Getting Around

Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport: A short drive from Kigali, Rwanda’s point of entry is served by a direct flight from Brussels otherwise you’ll be flying in from Entebbe, Nairobi, Lusaka or Johannesburg.

 

It’s about a 2.5-hour drive from Kigali to the gorilla trekking destination of the Volcanoes National Park. Transfers in Rwanda are usually conducted in 4X4 vehicles but you can also take a helicopter flight from Kigali to Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Because Rwanda is a small country, the maximum driving distance between major points of interest is about four to five hours long. In Kigali, one of the most efficient and fun ways of getting around is on the back of a local scooter – it’s a great way to get an authentic taste of the city.

Visa & Passport Requirements

A passport valid for at least six months is required by all visitors to Rwanda. Visas are required by everyone except citizens of the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Kenya and South Africa.

Multiple-entry tourist visas can be purchased from your nearest Rwandan embassy or consulate. Visas are valid for three months and can usually be extended in Kigali on a month-by-month payment basis.

Gorilla-trekking Permits

A gorilla-trekking permit is essential. It is important to note that children under 15 are not permitted on gorilla treks.

History & Economy

A land of pre-colonial kingdoms and powerful, cattle-owning dynasties, this tiny Central African country escaped the ravages of the slave trade but was subsequently colonised, first by the Germans and then the Belgians. Independence arrived in 1962 but Rwanda’s post-colonial history has been a chequered one. The 1994 genocide was the nadir but since then the country has gone from strength to strength and punches well above its weight in regional affairs.

Contributing 40% of GDP and occupying 90% of the workforce, agriculture dominates the economy but it’s mostly subsistence farming with little surplus. Cash crops such as tea and coffee do generate foreign revenue as does mining for rare metals but tourism is the greatest foreign exchange earner.

People & Culture

A green and fertile country, Rwanda has long been settled. With over 11 million people crammed into an area smaller than Belgium, it is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Its earliest inhabitants were the pygmoid Twa, hunter-gatherers who were subsequently displaced by migrating Hutu farmers who now make up over 80% of the population. Next to arrive were the cattle-raising Tutsis who dominated traditional power structures until independence. Note that as a consequence of its history, modern Rwanda tends to ignore such ethnic labels.

A young population (over 40% is aged under 15) the majority of Rwandans are Catholics with Protestants close behind. The country’s official languages are Kinyarwanda, French and English and Rwanda is generally seen as an easy, safe and friendly country to travel around. Music (particularly drumming) and dance dominate the cultural scene and there is a strong oral tradition ranging from poetry to folk stories.

Landscape & Wildlife

Known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, landlocked Rwanda sits literally at the heart of Africa. A country of volcanoes, thickly forested mountain ranges, lakes and rivers, its position on the Albertine Rift Valley puts it at the heart of one of the most bio-diverse environments in the world although much of Rwanda’s hill country and grasslands have been turned over to terraced agriculture and the country’s large animals are restricted to its three reserves.

Most famous of these reserves is the Volcanoes National Park, home to half the continents remaining mountain gorillas and Rwanda’s famous gorilla trekking industry. Nyungwe Forest is a haven for other primates including chimpanzees while the little-visited Akagera National Park in Rwanda’s flatter and hotter east is the country’s sole savannah reserve. Birdlife is prolific throughout the country with around 670 species recorded.

BEST OF RWANDA SAFARI AND NATIONAL PARKS

Get The Necessary Travel Information, Ideas & Advices About Rwanda

TOP RWANDA EXPERIENCE

Get The Necessary Travel Information, Ideas & Advices About Rwanda

Rwanda Game Safaris

Rwanda Game Safaris

Game drives are a highlight of your visit to the Savannah national parks while on your wildlife safaris. Game drives can also be...

Read More

Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

Rwanda is still, without a doubt, the best place in the world to go mountain gorilla trekking and release your inner Attenborough....

Read More

Chimpanzee Trekking Rwanda

Chimpanzee Trekking Rwanda

Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is organized in Nyungwe forest. This long stretch of montane rain-forest is the largest in Africa....

Read More

Primate Safaris Rwanda

Primate Safaris Rwanda

Primate Safaris Rwanda will give you a chance to participate in two premium wildlife activities in Rwanda; Gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking....

Read More

Gorilla Tracking Rwanda

Gorilla Tracking Rwanda

Rwanda is still, without a doubt, the best place in the world to go mountain gorilla trekking and release your inner Attenborough....

Read More

Birding In Rwanda

Birding In Rwanda

Rwanda offers arguably the best African Montane Birding anywhere. Combine that with a great road network, safety and security, a diversity...

Read More

Thinking Of African Safari Tour?

TOP RWANDA SAFARI FAQS

You need a visa to enter Rwanda. You can either get a visa on arrival at the airport, or before you travel. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the evisas website. You can also apply for these, and other types of visa, at the Rwanda High Commission in London.

The charge for the visa on arrival is US$50 in cash while the charge for processing the E-visa application yourself via the correct Rwanda government website (http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html) is US$52.53 including credit card fee.

Single Entry Visa is allowed to Indian travellers who wish to stay in Rwanda for a short period. … Indians who travel to a Rwanda for tourism purpose or business purpose or medical purpose. The applicant needs to mention the purpose of his visit. Rwanda tourist visa and Rwanda work visa are the single-entry visas.

The official processing duration for a Rwandan visa as per the official Rwandan Consulates’ site is 14 business days. However, this duration does vary between 2 and 15 days depending on the Embassy to be contacted.

Situated just beneath the equator in the African Great Lakes region, Rwanda has two dry seasons and two wet seasons. You’ll find that the Best Time To Visit Rwanda is during the longer of the dry seasons, from June to September. October then brings a short rainy season, followed by a short dry season from December to February. The longer rainy season runs from March to May. Rwanda is a destination for all seasons, so it is the best way to start Rwanda Safari as well.

Best Time: June to September (Except for chimp trekking in Nyungwe Forest)

High Season: June to September (Lodges might be full and gorilla permits must be booked long in advance)

Low Season: March, April, October, November (These are the peaks of the rains)

Best Weather: June to August (Least rain)

Worst Weather: March and April (Most rain, forest trails are slippery)

Rwanda Climate – Temperatures and Rainfall

Temperature-wise, Rwanda Safari Tours experiences little change in highs and lows from month to month, and no real winter/summer distinction as it is so close to the equator.  For much of the year, the daytime temperatures are a very pleasant mid to high 20s centigrade (25-28C). (This equates to the mid 70s to early 80s in Fahrenheit)

Best Time To Go Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

Although it’s regarded as a year-round activity, the Best Time To Visit Rwanda for a Gorilla Trekking Rwanda is during the short dry season from mid-December to early February or over the long dry season months of June to September.

Best Time To Go Chimpanzee Trekking In Rwanda

The Best Time To Go To Rwanda for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe, however, is during the two rainy seasons – mid-February to early June and mid-September to mid-December – as the apes are easier to locate.

Best Time To Visit Rwanda By Season

The climate in Rwanda is characterized by the following seasons:

  1. Long rains: March – May
  2. Long drying time: May – October
  3. Short rains: October – December
  4. Short drying time: December – March

Rwanda is a destination for all seasons, but the drier period from June to September is best for spotting the country’s undoubted highlight, the mountain gorilla.

The rainy seasons from March to May and June to September are the optimum times for tracking chimpanzees.

Temperatures hardly vary throughout the seasons due to Rwanda’s position just south of the Equator, with warm days and nights that can be cool, especially at altitude.

Contact Saso Uganda Safaris now to start planning the best bespoke Rwanda Safari Packages that adds great value to money. Rwanda is waiting for you! And so are we. Call us now!

BEST OF RWANDA SAFARI AND NATIONAL PARKS

Get The Necessary Travel Information, Ideas & Advices About Rwanda

TOP RWANDA EXPERIENCE

Get The Necessary Travel Information, Ideas & Advices About Rwanda

Rwanda Game Safaris

Rwanda Game Safaris

Game drives are a highlight of your visit to the Savannah national parks while on your wildlife safaris. Game drives can also be...

Read More

Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

Rwanda is still, without a doubt, the best place in the world to go mountain gorilla trekking and release your inner Attenborough....

Read More

Chimpanzee Trekking Rwanda

Chimpanzee Trekking Rwanda

Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is organized in Nyungwe forest. This long stretch of montane rain-forest is the largest in Africa....

Read More

Primate Safaris Rwanda

Primate Safaris Rwanda

Primate Safaris Rwanda will give you a chance to participate in two premium wildlife activities in Rwanda; Gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking....

Read More

Gorilla Tracking Rwanda

Gorilla Tracking Rwanda

Rwanda is still, without a doubt, the best place in the world to go mountain gorilla trekking and release your inner Attenborough....

Read More

Birding In Rwanda

Birding In Rwanda

Rwanda offers arguably the best African Montane Birding anywhere. Combine that with a great road network, safety and security, a diversity...

Read More

Thinking Of African Safari Tour?

TOP RWANDA SAFARI FAQS

You need a visa to enter Rwanda. You can either get a visa on arrival at the airport, or before you travel. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the evisas website. You can also apply for these, and other types of visa, at the Rwanda High Commission in London.

The charge for the visa on arrival is US$50 in cash while the charge for processing the E-visa application yourself via the correct Rwanda government website (http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html) is US$52.53 including credit card fee.

Single Entry Visa is allowed to Indian travellers who wish to stay in Rwanda for a short period. … Indians who travel to a Rwanda for tourism purpose or business purpose or medical purpose. The applicant needs to mention the purpose of his visit. Rwanda tourist visa and Rwanda work visa are the single-entry visas.

The official processing duration for a Rwandan visa as per the official Rwandan Consulates’ site is 14 business days. However, this duration does vary between 2 and 15 days depending on the Embassy to be contacted.