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Rwanda Safari & Gorilla Trekking

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Rwanda Travel Information

About Rwanda, Africa

The transformation of this country has been remarkable. In 1994 nearly one million inhabitants were slaughtered senselessly in their homes, churches, and streets. It was one of the darkest days in modern African history and, at the time, it was almost unthinkable that Rwanda could bounce back.
Known as the ‘land of a thousand hills’, Rwanda is making the headlines again – and this time, it’s for all the right reasons. With the devastating genocide behind it, this small, landlocked nation has emerged as one of Africa’s most exciting destinations. A tangible sense of optimism resonates from its towns, cities and colorful villages, which welcome foreign visitors with wide smiles and open arms.

But it has. In fact, the country has even blazed a trail for others to follow, particularly when it comes to gender equality (in 2014 there were more women in parliament here than anywhere else in the world) and conservation.

Indeed the country is a pioneer in eco-tourism, which it has used to fund conservation projects such as mountain gorilla protection in the steamy forests of Volcanoes National Park. Trekking to see these endangered primates is the main attraction in Rwanda, where the famous zoologist, Dian Fossey, studied the great apes and inspired the Hollywood film Gorillas in the Mist.

It’s not all about gorillas, though. Nyungwe Forest is one of the largest remaining rainforests in Africa and is home to 13 primates, including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys, as well as rare orchids and nearly 300 species of bird. And, although landlocked, Rwanda still manages to serve up a coastal vibe on the shores of Lake Kivu, with beaches at Gisenyi and coves at Kibuye.

It’s also worth spending a few days in the capital, Kigali: a cool, calm and cosmopolitan city, whose rising skyline reflects the country’s lofty ambitions. Join hip young things in Hillywood, the beating heart of Kigali’s fledgling film industry, or imbibe the vibe in the city’s burgeoning collection of bars, restaurants, and hotels, which are helping put this country back on the map.

Rwanda weather, climate and geography

Climate

Best Time To Visit

Despite its proximity to the equator, due to the high altitude of most of the country, Rwanda has a temperate climate with temperatures not often climbing above 25C. The long dry season is from June to September and there are two annual rainy seasons, the first from mid-March until the beginning of June and small rains from mid-September to December. The best time for gorilla and monkey tracking is the dry season – if only to spare you getting drenched (you can still see them in the rain, they just get a bit grumpy). The dry season is also good if you want to see game in Akagera National Park because thirst will draw the animals to the watering holes. You will also find at this time the roads are less dangerous and the risk of malaria is lower. The rainy season is the best time to see chimpanzees and is also the time when the place is at its most lush and green.

Required Clothing

Lightweights are required for most of the year with warmer clothes for cooler upland evenings. Rainwear is advisable.

Geography

Rwanda is a small mountainous country in central Africa, bordered to the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, to the south by Burundi and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country is divided by great peaks of up to 3,000m (9,842ft), which run across the country from north to south. The Virunga volcanoes, rising steeply from Lake Kivu in the west, slope down first to a hilly central plateau and further eastwards to an area of marshy lakes around the upper reaches of the A’Kagera River, where the A’Kagera National Park is situated.

Rwanda Passport And Visa Requirements

Passport Required Visa Required Return Ticket Required
Other EU Yes Yes Yes
USA Yes Yes Yes
Canadian Yes Yes Yes
Australian Yes Yes Yes
British Yes Yes Yes

Passport Info

A passport valid for six months from the date of entry is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above to enter Rwanda.

Visa Info

Visas for Rwanda are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above. Nationals of Australia, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the USA can purchase a visa on arrival. All other nationals listed in the chart must obtain a visa in advance.

All travellers require a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Travelers who are also visiting Kenya and Uganda may find it more useful to apply for an East Africa cross-border joint visa which allows entry into all three countries on a single visa.

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Rwanda.

Visa Note

A single-entry visa on arrival is also available to nationals who do not have a Rwandan embassy or consulate in their country. If this applies to you, visit www.migration.gov.rw to request a visa online.

Types And Costs

Visa on arrival (if eligible): US$30.

Single-entry visa: £23; multiple-entry visa: £40; tourist visa: £40; East African tourist visa: £77.

Validity

Visa on arrival/single-entry visa: 30 days; multiple-entry/tourist visa: 90 days; East Africa tourist visa: multiple entries within three months.

Consulate (or consular section at embassy/high commission) or online via www.migration.gov.rw.

Working Days

Allow three days for visa processing.

Rwanda Health Care & Vaccinations

Vaccination identifier Special precautions
Yellow Fever Yes
Typhoid Yes
Tetanus Yes
Rabies Sometimes
Malaria Yes
Hepatitis A Yes
Diphtheria Yes

Medical facilities are severely limited and extremely overburdened. Almost all medical facilities in Kigali were destroyed during the civil war, but the situation is now improving and most hospitals function to an acceptable level. However, medical insurance, including cover for emergency repatriation, is essential. Visitors are advised to bring their own personal medication. In emergency dial 912 for an ambulance.

Food Drink

Food is generally safe to eat if well-cooked and hot. If in doubt, veer towards larger restaurants in cities and those aimed at tourists, which will have undergone government safety checks. Avoid buying food from the side of the road and don’t drink tap water. Use bottled water or otherwise boil or sterilize. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Avoid dairy products that are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other Risks

Schistosomaisis, otherwise known as bilharzia, a parasite that lives in fresh water and enters the body through intact skin is present in the country. If you do swim in lake Kivu, then source the treatment – a drug called Praziquantel – locally and take it six weeks to three months after your return. Alternatively, you can be tested at a tropical medicine center on your return.

Click here to visit the Rwanda Tourist Authority Website