Rwanda

Travel & Tourism

Rwanda offers a surprising variety of stunning sights: the low rolling green mountains in the center of the country have lent Rwanda the nickname “land of a thousand hills,” and roads radiating out from the capital of Kigali lead in just a few hours to widely differing experiences.

While most of what the international public knows of Rwanda is reflective of the country’s darker days, Rwanda has made significant progress and achieved a political and societal cohesion that required a great deal of work, effort, and heart. Come and explore “the land of a thousand hills,” and experience Rwanda’s fascinating culture, history, and scenery.

What to Do in Rwanda

1. Volcano National Park: Only in Rwanda can you combine two awesome activities: gorilla trekking and volcano exploration. Six volcanoes, located in the Virunga valley, are situated amid sites where the country’s famous mountain gorillas live and thrive.

2. Kigali: This vibrant commercial center, the country’s capital, offers plenty in the way of open-air markets, walking tours, and history-focused museums and memorials. Plan to spend at least two days exploring this rising metropolis.

3. Rwanda’s Lakes: Have a magnificent beach day and visit Lake Kivu, the largest freshwater lake in Rwanda. Enjoy water sports, local fun, and even a boat ride along the western shoreline via the towns of either Kibuye or Gisenyi.

4. Primate Tour: The forests of Rwanda provide plenty of opportunities for animal investigation. We highly recommend finding a guide to take you around, as maps are not always readily available or accurate.

5. National Museum: Showcasing important historical and cultural landmarks of the country, this museum, located in the southern town of Butare (now called “Huye”), also offers live traditional music.

When to Go

The weather in Rwanda is fairly stable all year long, with the exception of the upper slopes, which tend to be cooler. The temperature is usually around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius) during the day and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) by night.

While the sun can be quite strong during Rwanda’s dry seasons due to high altitude, the rainy seasons (roughly April through May and October through December) offer some welcome and cool relief for those who do not mind waiting out a brief downpour every day or two. The best time for gorilla trekking is between July and September, when the land tends to be dryer.

Getting In and Around

Visas: American citizens are not required to have visas to enter Rwanda if they are staying for under 90 days. For country-specific visa requirements, we recommend you check with your local embassy.

Transportation: International flights fly into Kigali International Airport. Travel around Rwanda is actually much easier than in other East African countries, and the country has some of the best roads in East Africa as well. Local and luxury bus services are accessible, although some people still opt for private-hire cars and taxis. Public transportation is definitely an option.

Mobile Phones: Rwanda has a very strong communications network, and making calls internationally is quite easy. You can either take a GSM phone or purchase a SIM card or a cell phone at most places in Kigali.

Safety and Security

Concerned about your safety as you plan travel to Rwanda? We at Africa.com, together with our friends, family and colleagues, travel extensively throughout the continent. Here are the resources we consult when thinking of our safety in Rwanda:

• UK Government Rwanda Travel Advice Guidance

Africa.com comment: Very timely and frequently updated. Perspective assumes that you ARE going to travel to Rwanda, and seeks to give you good guidance so that you understand the risks and are well informed.

• Mo Ibrahim Personal Safety & Rule of Law Score for Rwanda

Africa.com comment: An annual ranking of the 54 African countries based on their relative personal security as determined by a highly qualified staff of an African foundation, funded by a successful African philanthropist. See where Rwanda ranks relative to the other 54 nations in Africa.

• U.S. State Department Travel Advisory on Rwanda

Africa.com comment: Can sometimes be considered as overly conservative and discourage travel altogether to destinations that many reasonable people find acceptably secure. On the other hand, they have the resources of the CIA to inform them, so they know things that the rest of us don’t know. See what they have to say about Rwanda.

Local Advice

1. Kinyarwanda is the official language of Rwanda. While English is prevalent in official settings, French is slowly losing popularity. That being said, there are still a number of people that speak French, so if you know a few phrases, it will help during your travels.

2. If you are planning to go on a gorilla trek, pack clothes to protect you from stinging nettles and forest critters.

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