Rwanda is one of the best tourists’ destinations in Africa. It is among the smallest country but with the cleanliest and organized city in East and central Africa. Rwanda was nicknamed “the land of a thousand hills” due to its mountainous nature! Rwanda is found in East Africa bordered by Uganda in north, Tanzania in East, Democratic Republic of Congo in West and Burundi in the south.
Major safaris in Rwanda include primate trekking (Gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking), Other things to do include game drive trips in Akagera national park, Nature trips, Birding in Nyungwe forest national park, Boat trips on Lake Kivu, Lake Ihema, Lake Buhondo and Burera among others.
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To enhance your enjoyment
The security of our visitors is our highest priorities.There is no need for concern about personal security.
The climate in Musanze is changeable and you can generally expect both sun and rainfall during the day.
Musanze, at 1,700m above sea level, is generally quite cold, particularly in the evening, so warm clothing is advised.
Recommended clothing is long trousers and shirts when in the forest to avoid nettle stings.
Study walking shoes or hiking boots are essential. You may find raingear useful.
Bring a water bottle and a small snack although eating, drinking and smoking near the gorillas is forbidden.
Photography is permitted, although you may not use flash
Porters are available to help you carry your daypack for a small charge.
Mountain gorillas live at high altitude and this may cause difficulties for some visitors. You should pace yourself, walk slowly and drink plenty of water. No one should feel deterred from making this trip.
How can I prepare for Rwanda primate trekking safaris?
Before boarding a plane to Rwanda, make sure you have enough funds for running the trip. Note that, private tours are more expensive than group tours so, you are advanced to make adequate preparation.
Choose a reputable tour and travel company tour operators to help you arrange or organize your Rwanda safari. The tour operators can help you book gorilla permits, chimp permits, hire you cars, get for you a good driver/ guide among others.
Local tour operators can help you draft a suitable itinerary for your safari in Rwanda. Tour operators can also help you book accommodation in Rwanda basing on your budget. But you can decide to book your self-accommodation but do it in advance.
For Gorilla trekking, you are advised to buy/ book your Gorilla permits in advance. This is because, gorilla permits are on high demand throughout the year and in peak season, the demand becomes extremely high. High seasons in Rwanda occurs every year in January, February, March, June, July, August, September, October and December. Low season occurs in April, May and November.
For chimpanzee, colobus monkey or golden monkey trekking, it is also wise to book in advance but you can as well make order while in the park since the demand is not so high like that of Gorilla trekking.
Ensure that you have strong cameras and reserve lenses for capturing pictures and films. It is noted that flash lenses are not allowed on gorilla trekking. Therefore, avoid flashing cameras while on Gorilla trekking. It’s better if you can also get camera stands to enable you take clear photos.
All international flights arrive at Kigali International Airport, just 10 Km from Kigali city centre. International flights that operate to Kigali are SN Brussels, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Burundi and Rwandair Express.
There are two direct flights from Brussels to Kigali by SN Brussels Airlines. Rwandair Express has introduced two flights a day from Nairobi (Kenya) and Entebbe (Uganda), and two per week from Johannesburg. Rwandair also has daily flights to Bujumbura and 3 flights weekly to Kilimanjaro. Rwandair Express currently flies thrice a week to Rubavu (Gisenyi-Rwanda) every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
Book your flights basing on the drafted itinerary- it’s better to arrive at Kigali international Airport during day light. Flights should be booked in advance. You can book your flight with Rwandair, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways or with any other Airways. It’s better to book two way flights (arrival and departure flights).
Spoken languages are Kinyarwanda, French and English. French is widely spoken throughout the country. In the capital and other tourist centres, English is widely spoken.
The unit of currency is the Rwanda franc. The US dollar is the hard currency of preference. It may be impossible to exchange travelers’ cheques away from the capital. Credit cards are usually only accepted at the major hotels in Kigali.
Passports and Visas
Foreign Nationals wishing to obtain Rwandan Visas, submit their applications to Rwandan Embassies or Diplomatic Missions of their Country of residence for processing.
In the case of those coming from countries where we don’t have an Embassy or Diplomatic Mission, they should request for an entry facility on line which will be used to obtain a visa on any official point of entry in Rwanda. A valid passport with visa is mandatory. In view of the bilateral agreements, nationals of the following countries may visit Rwanda without visa for a period up to 90 days: USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sweden, Mauritius, South Africa and Hong Kong.
Do I need a visa to enter Rwanda?
Under the new regulations, you are required to purchase a Visa to enter Rwanda. This can be done either in advance through the Rwandan Embassy or Consulate office in your country, or on line on the Rwandan Immigration Website at least 3 days prior to departing for Rwanda.
You can also get the visa on arrival, this is allowed for several countries, and you can check whether your country qualifies. Here are some whose residents can get the visa on arrival – United Kingdom, United States, France, Australia and several other countries
There are two types of Tourist Visas available: a standard Rwanda Tourist Visa, and the East Africa Tourist Visa. The standard single-entry Rwandan Tourist Visa, which is valid for 90 days, is $100 US for most countries; for some countries, the fee is $30 US. The East African Tourist Visa allows multiple exits and entries between Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda, is valid for 90 days, and costs $100 US. As these visa charges change from time to time, it is advisable to consult with the official Rwanda Immigration.
Can I use my ATM card, Visa Debit or Credit Card in Rwanda?
There are plenty of opportunities in Kigali, the capital city, to use your ATM card. Most banks in Rwanda have VISA networks and correspond with most of the large banks overseas. Outside Kigali, ATMs are only available in larger centers, such as Butare and Nyanza. In the smaller towns and in the parks, ATM machines are few and far between.
Visa Debit and international Credit Cards such as MasterCard are accepted in most large establishments in Kigali. Petrol Stations and lodges outside of Kigali will usually accept credit and debit cards. These credit card systems are shared on the phone lines, which are not 100% reliable and as such, we always recommend you travel with some local cash or common foreign currencies, such as U.S. Dollars, Euros, or British Pounds. This money can be used or exchanged in emergencies, when ATM machines and/or Credit Cards are not accepted. It should be noted that the U.S. Dollar is most widely accepted of these currencies.
Are travelers checks accepted in Rwanda?
Usually, most banks do accept traveler’s checks. You will be asked to show your passport and a proof of purchase to cash them, and the exchange rate is somewhat better than that for exchanging cash.
Is tipping common in Rwanda?
Tipping is somehow a new phenomenon in Rwanda, as it is generally in East Africa. The exceptions to this statement are high-end tourist restaurants, lodges, and safari staff, who are used to being tipped by tourists. Travel industry guidelines suggest that guides and drivers for safari adventurers are tipped between $5 and $10 US a day. Hotel and restaurant staffs are also getting used to receiving a tip, and your discretion is necessary to determine an amount. Foreign currency, especially the lower denominations, is not easy to change for a good rate; thus, we advise you to tip in Rwandan francs if possible.
Are Vaccinations required to enter Rwanda?
Although there are many recommended precautionary vaccinations, the only one that is mandatory is Yellow Fever. You must get a booster shot every 20 years and present your vaccination booklet upon entry into Rwanda. Make sure to bring the booklet with you.
Is Rwanda a safe country for tourists?
Rwanda is considered one of the safest countries in not only Africa, but the world as a whole. Crime is not a big issue for travelers, but one must always use common sense when traveling in any foreign country. Even in large urban centers such as Kigali, there is little concern for safety, and there are many police officers patrolling the streets. Rwanda is a particularly good country to travel to with children, as they are most welcome. In most cases, hotels and restaurants are family-friendly.
What is the accommodation like when I am on safari in Rwanda?
As in most countries, there is a large variety of accommodations available. When booking, you should note the different features offered by the hotels and lodges to ensure that they meet your needs. You should feel free to ask as many questions as you like; your complete satisfaction is our goal and we are always available to give you in-person information about our recommended lodging.
What vehicles does Rwanda-Gorilla Safari use?
Our fleet of vehicles is quite extensive, and your vehicle will be chosen based on your itinerary. All of our vehicles have 4-wheel drive and can be used for off-road traveling. We always use ‘safari-type’ vehicles, such as the Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol. These vehicles accommodate up to 4 or 5 people and their luggage. For slightly larger groups and for use mainly on the tarmac roads, we use Toyota Super Custom vans, which can accommodate 7 to 9 passengers.
As such, all our vehicles are fully maintained and regularly serviced to avoid unnecessary breakdowns. Our drivers are mechanically trained and are in most cases able to take care of any small repairs that might be necessary en route. The vehicles are air conditioned for your added comfort and carry fully comprehensive Insurance.
Can one book a safari if one is travelling alone?
Yes, solo trekkers are most welcome. Sometimes, single travelers must pay extra surcharges, but we always do our utmost to minimize these additional charges by coordinating his or her itinerary with other travelers.
How large are the safari groups that I will be traveling with?
The size of the specific group will depend on the vehicle assigned. In most cases, the groups are 8 people or less. The larger vehicles, such as the Super Custom Vans, will allow groups of up to 9 people. Gorilla Tracking guidelines do not permit more than 8 persons per group, which also limits the numbers to a manageable amount for most travelers.
When is the best time to visit Rwanda?
The best time to visit Rwanda is during the drier period from June to September, when you have the best chance at spotting the country’s undoubted highlight: the mountain gorilla. The rainy seasons, from March to May and in November, are the optimum times for tracking chimpanzees. It’s also quieter then.