Rwanda Safari Travel Information

General Information

Please find below some useful travel information to help you plan your visit to Rwanda. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information.

Climate

Equatorial climate (25 – 30°C) but nights can be cold (especially at lodges near the Virungas). Chance of rain in the Virunga region is high so bring rain gear.

 

Mountain Gorilla Treks

Tracking gorillas in Rwanda can be testing and requires a moderate to good level of fitness (though it is deemed easier than from Uganda where the trails are steeper and less accessible). Treks are often 2 to 3 hours each way (but can be more) and involve hiking through dense forest and traversing steep ravines and mountainsides, often in damp conditions. However, all this adventure is worthwhile for a glimpse of one of nature’s finest spectacles.

In order to minimise human contact with the gorilla groups the Rwandan authorities issue Gorilla Permits – ensuring that a limited number of visitors can observe them each day. These permits are in high demand, so do book early to secure your chosen date/s.

Eco-tourism is nature-based tourism that meets conservation objectives. Gorilla tourism depends largely on the conservation of these magnificent animals. Some rules have been developed to protect the gorillas and the park rangers will brief you before the trekking. Please respect them.

Please note that there is a minimum age restriction of 15 years for visitors on gorilla treks.

 

Currency

The currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RFr or Frw) but it is advisable to take US dollars or Euros in cash. US dollars are only accepted if they are dated 2009 or later, and notes must be crisp and clean with no tears.

Exchanging money: As soon as you exit the airport building, you have your choice of exchanging money at the ATM (with your Visa debit card) or there is also a currency exchange office where you can exchange U.S. cash (dated year 2009 and newer) for Rwandan Francs. Please exchange U.S. dollars to Rwandan Francs upon arrival.

In Kigali the Banque de Kigali and various Bureaux de Change – (closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays) – can change travellers’ cheques. Credit cards can be used in some hotels and restaurants in Kigali.

NB  Visa is accepted in Rwanda but Master Card is not.

As with all safari destinations, please do NOT give money or treats directly to children – it encourages them to become beggars and to stay out of school hoping to get handouts from visitors. Instead, donations can be made to reputable charity causes or community projects suggested by your hotel or by our ground agent.

 

What to Bring with you

With changeable weather conditions and dense forest vegetation it is advisable to take layers of protective clothing. We recommend wearing the following:

  • t-shirt
  • long-sleeved top
  • warm fleece / jumper
  • thick trousers
  • thick wool socks (and gaiters preferably)
  • strong lightweight, water-proof walking boots
  • hat with brim
  • garden gloves to aid scrambling up banks

And carry a small rucksack with:

  • passport (park rangers will require to see your passport at the Park headquarters before you can start your trek)
  • water
  • pack lunch and snacks
  • binoculars
  • camera / video camera with spare battery, memory cards or film
  • light-weight rain mac / poncho

Walking sticks are available at the Park headquarters and porters can be hired for approx US$10.

A sealed plastic bag around camera / lenses will help keep them dry on the trek.

Pockets are useful for valuables and spare camera batteries / lenses etc as all other equipment must be left with porters approx 200 metres away from the gorilla groups.

 

Security

After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has stabilised. Democratic elections have been held, and Rwanda is one of the most stable and safe African countries.

 

Community Day

The last Saturday of each month is “community day” when all Rwandans are required to partake in community projects, such as cleaning their neighborhood etc. Please be aware that many businesses close on this day, including the Genocide Memorial Museum.

 

Plastic Bags

In order to preserve the natural environment, Rwanda enforces a law that restricts plastic bags / sacks coming in to the country. Please note that these can be confiscated at Kigali airport.

 

Health Requirements

The recommendations regarding vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs constantly change so please ask your G.P. / medical centre for up-to-date details. A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required (for all travellers over 1 year old).

 

Immigration

Entry requirements can change without notice, so it is advisable to check the latest information regarding passports and visas via the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration & Emigration on www.migration.gov.rw or with your High Commission, Embassy or Consulate.

Arrival at Kigali Int’l airport:   A valid passport and visa is required for entry.

U.S. citizens can get the Rwanda visa upon arrival.  (Currently $30 USD)

Canadian citizens need to obtain a Rwanda entry visa at least 2 weeks in advance of arrival, UNLESS you are going to Kenya first and, in the case, you can purchase an East Africa Visa ($100 USD) upon arrival at Nairobi Int’l airport.

If you are not a U.S or Canadian passport holder, please check visa and entry requirements at: www.migration.gov.rw/services/visa/

Nationals of United States, Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Sweden, Republic of South Africa, United Kingdom, traveling to Rwanda shall get entry visa upon arrival at any Rwandan entry point without prior application on payment of USD 30, valid for a period of up to 30 days.

  • If you are traveling to Kenya first and then to Rwanda:  you can get an East Africa Visa (currenty $100 USD), upon arrival in Kenya.  The East Africa visa covers multiple entry to Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda
  • If you are traveling to Rwanda FIRST and then to Kenya: you can get an East Africa Visa upon arrival in Rwanda.  BUT, if you are Canadian, you must apply for your East Africa Visa at least 2 weeks prior to arrival to Rwanda, on line at: https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=2
  • If you are traveling to Tanzania first and then to Rwanda, you can get your Tanzania visa ($100 USD) upon arrival in Tanzania, and then get your Rwanda visa  ($30 USD) upon arrival in Rwanda

But if you are Canadian citizens:  If you are traveling to Tanzania first and then to Rwanda, you will need to apply for Rwanda visa at least 2 weeks prior to arrival to Rwanda at: https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=2   You can get your Tanzania visa upon arrival.

  • If you are going to Rwanda only (and not going to any other African country), U.S citizens can get the Rwandan visa ($30) upon arrival.  Canadians must apply for the visa at least 2 weeks prior to entry to Rwanda and choose a “single entry” visa (if you are going to Rwanda only).

An East Africa Tourist Visa ($100 USD) on Arrival is a borderless visa – a partnership between Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya – allows for multiple-entry to those countries over a period of 90 days.

Please don’t apply too early… the visa is normally valid for up to 60 days from the date you apply so you’ll want to make sure that the 60 days will not expire until AFTER you return home.

Some useful links are:

Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda – USA

Rwanda High Commission – United Kingdom

High Commission of the Republic of Rwanda – Canada

 

Concerned about the security of your booking and your own safety while on safari?

We fully appreciate your concerns when it comes to booking a safari in Africa and you can rest assured that your financial security when booking and your own personal safety when on safari is our highest priority. Gamewatchers Safaris is a member of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators bonding scheme, backed by a leading insurance company, to ensure your payments are fully protected if a bonded KATO member ceases trading.