Travel Tips for Rwanda

Rwanda

Location

Rwanda lies just south of the Equator in Eastern Africa and is one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. The country is bordered by Uganda to the North, Tanzania to the East, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West, and Burundi to the South.

Climate

Rwanda can be visited and enjoyed any time of the year. Temperatures average around 24°C (75°F), except for in the higher mountain areas where it ranges from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 60°F). The dry season which lasts from mid-May to mid-October, is the best time to track, hike and mountain climb, however, it is not as “green” as the wet season, which spans the other half of the year. Wet Season: mid-October to mid-May.

Time Difference

Rwanda is on Central African Time (CAT) - GMT +2 hours.

Entry Requirements

Nationals of: Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Republic of South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America will be issued with an entry visa valid for a period up to 30 days and pay for a visa ($30) upon arrival without prior application.

Nationals of: all other countries not listed above will need to apply for a Tourist Visa (T2) at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration or at a Rwandan Embassy or Diplomatic Mission. Cost is US$50, validity is 90 day and for multiple entry.

The East Africa Tourist Visa allows entry to Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. Applications should be made in advance with the country to be entered first. For Rwanda, applications can be made with the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration or at any Rwandan Embassy or Diplomatic Mission, or online

Electricity

Electricity in Rwanda is 240V and frequency is 50Hz. The socket/plug type is Type G, which looks like this:

Tipping protocol

It is customary to tip for service in restaurants and bars. A tip of 5% is very acceptable and a tip of 20% is very generous. It is also customary to tip your driver/guide at the end of a safari or hike, as well as the cook and/or porter that may accompany to you.

Culture

Please do not take photos of the local people without asking. Dress respectfully and it is always helpful to learn how to say please and thank you in the local language.

Language

Official languages are Kinyarwanda, English, French and Swahili.

Health Tips

A yellow fever vaccine is essential – bring your certificate with you. Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, polio, tetanus and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended.

A rabies vaccination is recommended for anyone who expects to be in close contact with animals, or in a very remote area. Be aware that some of these require a course of injections, and others take several days to take effect, so you should visit your doctor or travel clinic as soon as possible before you travel.

Even if you are taking anti-malarials, you should still wear insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and closed shoes. This will also help protect you from other diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insects such as tsetse flies. All accommodation in high-risk areas will have mosquito nets – be sure to use them.

Avoid swimming in Rwanda's lakes – they carry a high risk of bilharzia

Tap water is not suitable for drinking, though bottled water is readily available throughout the country.

Mountain climbers should familiarize themselves with the symptoms and treatment of altitude sickness. Above 6400 feet, altitude sickness can affect anyone, irrespective of age, fitness or previous experience. The risk is reduced by slow ascents to enable acclimatization, while the most effective treatment is immediate withdrawal to a lower altitude.

Currency & Banking

The local currency is the Rwanda Franc (Rwf). Currency can be exchanged at major banks and in hotels. Travellers’ checks are not a convenient mode of payment in Uganda.

MasterCard and Visa are accepted and ATM machines are available in the capital Kigali. We suggest you carry sufficient local currency and additional US dollars to cover the cost of any additional purchases.

Religion

According to the 2012 census, Roman Catholics represented 43.7% of the population, Protestants (excluding Seventh-day Adventists) 37.7%, Seventh-day Adventists 11.8%, and Muslims 2.0%.

What to Pack for Gorilla Trekking

  • It often rains heavily, even in the dry season, so a light raincoat will be useful. Sturdy walking boots with good ankle support and grip are also recommended.
  • A light shoulder bag or small rucksack is useful to carry your packed lunch, water bottles, raincoat, camera and other essentials. Local porters are also available
  • Strong gloves are of enormous help, as you will be hauling yourself uphill by grabbing the bushes, and often sliding downhill on the seat of your pants
  • During the track, wearing a pair of walking trousers or gaiters will prevent cuts and scratches
  • Carry a water-proof plastic bag to wrap your camera and film or memory cards in
  • Flash photography is strictly prohibited as this may upset the gorillas. Make sure you bring ample supplies of high-speed film or memory cards.
  • Make sure you are completely familiar with the workings of your camera before you observe the gorillas

Luggage

It is highly recommended that you lock your luggage with a secure padlock. It is also advisable that you do NOT pack valuable items in your checked luggage.