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.
Population: 11.78 million (2013) World Bank
Currency: Rwandan franc
Official languages: Kinyarwanda, French, English
Time zone: EAT (UTC+3)
Drives on the: right
Calling code: +250
Destination Rwanda, Travel Information
Rwanda is the smallest country in East Africa. Like its neighbor in the North Uganda, it’s also a land locked country and has no Sea port. It is bordered by countries like Uganda in the north, Burundi in the south, Tanzania in the east and Congo in the west.
Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda and is located with-in the heart of the country. The capital city serves as the country’s business center and port entry with the international Airport.
Rwanda has a number of unique tourist sports such as the 3 famous National Parks of Nyungwe, Akagera and Parc Nationale Des Volcanoes. Other tourist sites include, The National Museum in Butare, Genocide memorial sites, the old palace at Nyanza, craft villages, Lake Kivu and its surrounding near-by towns of Gisenyi and Kibuye.
The country has a size of 26,338 square kilometers. It is located 1270km away from the Indian Ocean on the western side and 2000km east of the Atlantic Ocean. The country’s land scape is much mountainous with Karisimbi being the highest peak at 4,507on the Virunga Volcanic ranges. The country’s largest main fresh water body is Lake Kivu.
There are also other small Lakes and Rivers such as Burera, Ruhondo, Ihema, Muhazi, Mugesera and River Akagera.
It is because of this that it’s commonly known as “the Land of thousand hills”.
It is also located on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift which is a western arm of the Great Rift Valley
Population and Economy
Even though the country is small, its Population is about 10 million people. The country’s economy is based on subsistence agriculture.
The country also produces exports like Tea and coffee which are the finest in the world market of agricultural exports. Other industries include sugar, fishing and flowers for export.
What to bring on a safari in Rwanda
Like on any other safari in Africa, when visiting Rwanda, it’s important to carry with you the following items: Warm clothings like jackets and sweaters, Long trousers and shorts,
Long sleeved blouses and shirts, T-shirts, Hiking books preferably water proof, Raincoats
Water containers, Re-hydration mixture, paracetamol and any personal medication, Insect repellents
Lace-up shoes, Hats, Sun glasses, Sun blocks, Torch, Extra batteries, Cameras, Binoculars, Camera films and so on
Safety and Security
The country is safe political wise. However, it’s also important to advise our clients not to move with large sums of money, hand bags and expensive Jewelries while in the public. We always advise them to leave their important valuables and documents like Passports, Cameras, souvenir in the rooms and the Hotel.
Lock the room and give the key in a safe place like at the Reception or give it to the General Manager of the Hotel is around.
What to do in Rwanda
- Gorilla tracking in Parc Nationale Des Volcanoes
- Golden monkey tracking
- Hiking on one of the mountains (Mt. Bisoke, Karisimbi, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura)
- Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
- Game viewing and wildlife safaris in Akagera National Park
- Visit the Dian Fossey grave
- Kigali city tour (Genocide Memorila sites, cultural performances at the Rwanda National Ballet)
- Boat rides on Lake Ihema with in Akagera National Park and also on Lake Kivu
- Visiting the National Museum in Butare
- Visiting the Old King’s Palace in Nyanza
- Botanical gardens and Artcraft shops in Nyanza
- Community tours and farm tours
- Bird watching around water bodies and also in the forest
- Forest walks in Nyungwe and Parc Nationale Des Volcanoes
How to get to Rwanda
The country has an international Airport called Kanombe which is 10 kilometers away from Kigali City. One can fly to Rwanda with Airlines such as KLM, SN Brussels, Rwandair Express, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania, South African Airways, Air Burundi and Air Uganda.
There are also other means of transport to reach the country from the neighboring countries like Road transport using public transport of Buses and Coaches or private cars crossing borders of cyanika and Katuna from Uganda.
There is also public transport from Burundi and Congo.
When to Visit Rwanda
The country can be visited any time of the year. The wet season is good for chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest National Park. The rainy season is also good since the scenery of the country becomes greener and the skies are clear. Rwanda has two rainy seasons and these are from mid February to beginning of June and from mid September to mid December. The dry season is from June to September and is the best for trekking Mountain Gorillas in Parc Nationale Des Volcanoes.
Money Unit and Credit Cards
The country’s local currency is the “Rwanda Franc” and is divided into several small denominations up to RwFr 5000. 1US$ is approximately 592 RwFr and 1 Euro is approximately 838 RwFr. There are several foreign exchange bureaus at the Airport and also in Kigali city.
The banks do not open on Saturdays and there are also services of western union which is used for fast and efficient money transfers. Only major and few hotels in Rwanda do accept credit cards but with extra sur charges. Traveler cheques are not recommended since they are not widely accepted in the country.
Passport and visas
A valid passport with visa is necessary to enter the country. However, in view of the bilateral agreements, nationals of the following countries may visit the country 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. Visas can be applied for online or bought upon arrival at the Airport or at different boarder points.
The country’s indigenous language is Kinyarwanda. However, other languages like French and English are also recognized as official languages. Apart from Kinyarwanda, French is also widely spoken throughout the country. English is mainly used in Kigali, the country’s capital and in the other tourist centres.
A valid certificate of yellow-fever vaccination is required when entering the country. Much of Rwanda lies at too high an elevation for malaria to be a major concern, but the disease is present and prophylactic drugs are strongly recommended. It is advisable not to drink tap water and bottled mineral water is recommended and can be bought in all towns. Hospitals are located in all major towns.
You are advised to always have a comprehensive travel insurance which covers for your medical costs associated with hospitalization, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country.
The country has an excellent cell phone network covering almost the entire country. Therefore because of this, International phone calls can be made easily. SIM cards for different networks are available everywhere and cell phones can be purchased or rented from major shops in Kigali. There are also several internet cafes and computer centers in major towns and near tourist centers.
Apart from Good Friday and Easter Monday which fall on variable dates, other public holidays in the country are:
- January (New Year’s Day)
- February (National Heroes Day)
- April (Genocide Memorial Day)
- May (Labour Day)
- July (Independance Day)
- July (National Liberation Day)
- August (Assumption Day)
- October (Patriotism Day)
- December (Christmas Day)
- December (Boxing Day).