Rwanda Travel Information
Rwanda is a landlocked East African country with a green, mountainous landscape. Its renowned Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park encompasses 4,507m-tall Mt. Karisimbi and 4 other forested volcanoes. In the southwest is Nyungwe National Park, with ancient montane rainforest that’s a habitat for chimpanzees and other primates.
The main airport in Rwanda is Kigali International Airport. It is located 10 km East of the centre.
Kigali currently receives direct flights from Nairobi, Entebbe, Bujumbura, Addis Ababa, Kilimanjaro, Brazzaville, Douala, Libreville, Mombasa, Mwanza, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dar es Salaam, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Juba, Lagos, Lusaka, Doha and Dubai.
It is also possible to take a bus from neighboring countries.
Motorcycle taxis (taxi moto) are the most popular in Kigali as it is the most cost effective way to get around. Laws require taxi motos to wear identifiable jerseys and helmets, and that they carry an extra one for their clients at all times. Most drivers speak basic English or French.
Private taxis are common and can be found at designated taxi stops throughout Kigali. One can also hire a private taxi by phone or if at any hotel, reception can book a recommended driver for you.
“Matatus” are white with green or yellow minibuses that travel across the country. Rwanda has a good local transportation system for inter-region connectivity, and has plenty of well- maintained and modern minibuses, some of which offer WIFI. Every 30 minutes, there are buses from different transport agencies linking Kigali to other cities of the country, with most buses leaving from Nyabugogo, the central bus station.
Private cars and drivers can be also hired in Kigali, If considering driving from Kigali to other provinces of Rwanda, for instance; along lake Kivu, it is recommended that you get a 4×4 and travel with someone who knows the area; preferably a tour guide. Back country driving is perfect for anyone with a sense of adventure. Be sure to advise your clients to get a 4×4, good maps, and a working cell phone before leaving.
Short distances within cities can be travelled either on foot or by car, motorcycle, or bicycle taxis.
Visa requirements for foreign nationals visiting Rwanda as tourists are as follows:
- Hong Kong
- Democratic Republic of Congo
may visit Rwanda without a visa for a period of up to 90 days.
Citizens of the East African Community citizens:
will be issued with a 6 months visitor pass (renewable) upon arrival with no fee
- New Zealand
- Republic of South Africa
- United Kingdom
- 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.
Those wishing to stay for longer than 30 days and/or enter more than once can exit and re-enter Rwanda to obtain another 30 day visa, or pre-apply for a tourist visa (T2), valid for 90 days with multiple entry.
all African countries not listed above will be issued with an entry visa upon arrival at any Rwandan entry point (US$30 fee still payable but no need to pre-apply).
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. Once an online application is approved, the visa can be collected upon arrival at Kigali International Airport. Cost is US$100 and validity is 90 days.
For further information on visas for Rwanda, click here
Please note, all travelers require a passport valid for 6 months after your arrival.
Yellow Fever is a current risk in Rwanda due to the outbreaks taking place in the region. It is recommended that all travelers over the age of 9 months receive this vaccine. This is also important for travelers who will continue on to other EAC countries since Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya all require yellow fever vaccinations as well.
The following vaccinations are recommended but not required when visiting Rwanda:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Even though less prevalent than other African countries, Malaria does exist in Rwanda. While there is no vaccine against malaria, prophylactic drugs along with prevention will significantly reduce the risk of getting it.
We recommend you consult your doctor on malaria medicine prior to traveling to Rwanda.
It is not recommended to drink tap water during your time in Rwanda. It is important to stick to bottled water.
Rwanda’s unit of currency is the Rwandan franc (Rwf). It is best to arrive in Rwanda with US dollars or Euros in cash, which can be exchanged either at the airport or at any FOREX bureau or bank. The most useful bank branch would be the Banque de Kigali, which offers cash advances on credit cards and also accepts travelers’ cheques, which is not possible outside of Kigali.
There are ATMs throughout Kigali that are accessible to visitors.
Credit cards are accepted in some upmarket restaurants and hotels, but it is best to confirm prior to ordering.
Bureaux de change (FOREX Bureaus) are mostly located in Kigali and can offer a slightly better exchange rates than most banks.
All banks and most bureaux de change are closed on Sundays, and on the last Saturday of every month until 11:00 am for the national day of community work, “UMUGANDA”.
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.
Tipping is not at any fixed amount and depends on personal wish.
Wifi is available in most hotels, free of charge. It is quite easy to find cafés in Kigali with wifi, but it is best to check beforehand if you are planning on using internet. The lodges in the countryside are also equipped with wifi, however, cafés and restaurants outside of Kigali may not have it on offer.
Phone and SIM Cards:
Pay as you go SIM cards and phones are available in most major retailers around Kigali. There are also multiple phone registration kiosks and stands around the city where you may purchase and register SIM cards.
Below are the major mobile phone network operators in Rwanda
• Airtel Rwanda: www.africa.airtel.com/rwanda
• MTN Rwanda: www.mtn.co.rw
• Tigo Rwanda: www.tigo.co.rw
Please ensure your phone is unlocked.
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.
The Northeast has a lot more rain due to the volcanoes being covered in rainforest. Karisimbi (the highest peak in Rwanda at 2,507 meters) is usually covered with snow.
Rwanda is safe.
We do recommend that you exercise normal caution, as you would at home, when travelling in this country.