WHAT'S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO COME TO RWANDA?
Rwanda is a beautiful country to visit at any time of year! Although most visitors agree that the best times of year are September through to March and May through to July.
April is usually a rainy month and on 7th April each year, the country remembers the 1994 genocide for a week: the mood is subdued although hotels and restaurants remain open. Rwandans recognise the huge benefit that tourists bring to the country, so your presence is always welcomed.
WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE?
August can be hot and dusty. April is often rainy. And rain in Rwanda usually comes in the form of a short downpour, not incessant drizzle. So, when it rains, visitors usually find shelter and rest their legs for a while from cycling or walking.
DO I NEED A VISA?
Rwanda requires that visitors possess a visa at the time they request entry into Rwanda. A visa valid for 30 days for the purpose of tourism can be purchased for $30 or £20 upon arrival at Kigali International Airport or at Rwanda’s land borders. Accepted forms of payment include U.S. dollars printed after 2006, sterling and credit cards issued by Visa and MasterCard. Payment by credit card may not be possible at all land borders.
You can also pay online in advance. You need to have a photocopy of your passport ready to attach.
More information for US visitors can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/rwanda.html
More information for UK visitors can be found here:
DO I NEED TO TAKE OUT TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR MY TRIP?
It is important to take out full, comprehensive travel and health insurance prior to your trip.
WHAT IS UMUGANDA? WILL IF AFFECT MY TRAVEL?
In every commune, on the last Saturday of every month, between 8:00am and 11:00am, Rwandans undertake compulsory community work Foreigners are fRee to travel in this three-hour period, but public transport run until 8:00 and after 11:00. So, for example, you won’t be able to catch a bus during this time – so it’s always best to travel before or after the three-hour Umuganda timeslot. Foreign visitors should make sure they carry ID with them during these three hours.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
Lightweight gear for sports, including a light jacket which gives some rain protection. You don’t need clothes for cold temperatures, a thin fleece, jumper or large scarf for your shoulders will keep you warm if there is an evening chill. You can often handwash your sports clothes in the evening and find they will dry by the morning, so you don’t necessarily need to bring a change of clothes for every day of your trip.
You should take sunscreen suitable for your skin type.
Most guest houses – and all guest houses recommended by Rwandan Adventures - provide mosquito nets over beds but it’s a good idea to travel with spray for your skin and a repellent for your room (a plug-in, spray or burner).
Standards of dress in Rwanda are a little more conservative than in some developed countries so bring your shorts, but avoid flashing your thighs! Knee length shorts are more appropriate and low cut tops are best avoided. Sleeveless tops are fine.
If you are cycling, Rwandan Adventures provide everything you need, including repair kits, helmets and water bottles. We even have some SPD shoes and pedals if you are a keen cyclist and wish to use these.
Snacks (cake, biscuits, tropical fruit, samosas etc…) are available at various points on all of our tours, but if you prefer energy bars or chocolate it is best to bring these with you from home as they cannot be bought in Rwanda. If you’re coming from Kigali, you can pick up crisps or dried bananas and other similar food from one of the supermarkets in the centre of town.
SHOULD I BRING SPENDING MONEY? IN WHAT CURRENCY?
Yes, you will need spending money and it is best to enter Rwanda with US Dollars. But please note that you should not bring US Dollar bills that are older than 2006 as these are exchanged at a worse rate than more recent notes. You will also get a better exchange rate by changing $50 and $100 bills compared to the rate for $20 and smaller bills.
It is safe to use the FOREX offices in the centre of Kigali. There are several next to the mosque, which is behind BK bank and the large white building. International ATMs are available in Kigali, but you should not rely on these outside of Kigali.
HEALTH, SAFETY, SECURITY
IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO RWANDA?
Read what the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has to say - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/rwanda/safety-and-security
And read what the US State Department has to say - http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/rwanda.html
One of the recent customers of Rwandan Adventures used the US State Department site and said the following about it:
“England has seven dense paragraphs about crime, followed by four dense paragraphs on scams and fraud. Rwanda is very different. It is currently one of the safest nations in Africa and the State Department’s concerns about crime fit in a single paragraph and primarily warn visitors about pick-pockets and petty theft.”
WHAT SAFETY INFORMATION SHOULD I BE AWARE OF?
Rwanda is generally safe and crime levels are relatively low, but street crime does occur. You should take precautions with valuables and remain vigilant. There is a low threat from terrorism.
You can find more information about safety and security in Rwanda here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/rwanda/safety-and-security
ARE MALARIA AND YELLOW FEVER PROBLEMS IN RWANDA?
The Rwandan government has a strong policy for fighting malaria but you should still take sensible precautions. You should follow your doctor’s advice on taking malaria medication prior to your arrival and you should bring repellent spray which you should put on any exposed skin from 5pm every day. Mosquitoes are active at dusk.
Consult your medical professional for advice concerning yellow fever. Vaccination should be given at least ten days before travelling to Rwanda
WHAT EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBER SHOULD I DIAL IF I HAVE A MEDICAL ISSUE?
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
DO I NEED TO TAKE OUT HEALTH INSURANCE FOR MY TRIP?
It is important to take out full, comprehensive health and travel insurance prior to your trip.
British High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda
Parcelle No 1131, Boulevard de l'Umuganda, Kacyiru Sud, BP 576, Kigali
Telephone (+250) 252 556 000
United States Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda
2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie, Kacyiru, P.O. Box 28, Kigali
Telephone (+250) 252 596 400
Canadian Embassy in Kigali
59, KN16 Ave, Kiyovu, PO Box 1177, Kigali
Telephone (+250) 252 573 210
South African High Commission in Kigali
1370 Blvde de l’Umuganda, PO Box 6563, Kigali
Telephone (+250) 252 551 300
HOW HARD IS THE BIKING OR HIKING?
Rwanda is the Land of a Thousand Hills, so we can’t pretend that you’re going for an easy stroll across flat landscapes! We are very flexible on speeds so your guide or chaperone will simply cycle at the pace that suits you. We have GPS profiles for several of our tours so you can also use these to judge the difficulty.
If at any point you want to stop walking or cycling we can almost always find a way to get you safely onto the destination, whether it’s by taking a boat or hopping onto a motorbike or hitching a lift with a passing vehicle.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIKES LIKE?
Our stock of bikes are European-imported mountain bikes with suspension. We currently have a range of makes including Trek, Giant and Kona. We make sure we maintain the bikes to a high standard and each bike is fully serviced after every tour.
I LIKE YOUR TOURS BUT I WANT TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, CAN YOU HELP ME?
We are happy to customise any of our routes, or come up with a new route just for you. Let us know which areas you wish to visit and we will propose an itinerary for you. Remember that we can also organise your Mountain Gorilla Trek for you, a visit to Nyungwe Forest and Akagera Park for safaris.
HOW CAN I PAY?
Once you’ve paid your confirmation deposit by Paypal or through our online booking on our website, you can pay the balance when you arrive in our office on the day of departure. You can pay in RWF or US Dollars (our exchange rate is displayed in the office). We hope soon to accept VISA credit card payments.
If you need to pay the whole balance by Paypal we can do this, but unfortunately this will incur a 7% surcharge to cover the costs of transferring the money to Rwanda.
HOW CAN I GET TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT?
Rwandan Adventures can organise taxi collections for you from the airport or your hotel. Please contact us via email for competitive prices.
Alternatively, public buses are frequent and cheap in Rwanda. Driving standards are much better than in many East African countries, although still a little more risky than you may be used to in Europe or North America.
All buses leaving Kigali depart from Nyabugogo bus station. You can get there on foot (15 minutes from the main roundabout in town, all downhill) or on a motorbike taxi (400 RWF and 5 minutes from the town). You don’t need to book your ticket in advance, but you can to be sure of a seat. Standing is not allowed on buses and your luggage will be safely stowed for you in the boot (trunk) by the conductor. We recommend using Virunga Buses where possible, but the other companies are also good.
If your tour starts in Musanze, the normal starting point is St Anne’s Hotel, which is less than 5 minutes’ walk from the bus station. Leave the station and walk back to the main road, turn right. On the central reservation you’ll see signs to the Hotel.
If your tour starts in Gisenyi, then from the bus station you’ll need to take a taxi car or taxi moto to get to Rubona part of town. This is commonly known as La Brasserie (because the country’s largest brewery is based there). It’s a 600 RWF moto ride and will take you about 10 minutes. You’re just coming to the next bay on the lake, but due to a methane gas extraction plant the lakeside road is closed to traffic so the main road takes you up over a hill and back down again. Our office is well signposted, but ask your driver to take you to Paradis Hotel and then continue half a kilometre to our office.
If your tour starts in Kibuye, look out for the roundabout as you enter town on the bus. Once you’re off the bus, go to that roundabout and follow the signs to the many hotels. Our office is next to Golf Eden Hotel.
If your tour starts in Kigali we normally meet you at your hotel or home unless we arrange otherwise. Our office is in Gikondo but it does not have regular opening hours.
Kigali - Musanze 2 hours
Kigali - Gisenyi 3 hours
Kigali - Kibuye - 3 hours
Gisenyi - Kibuye (no direct route)
Kigali - Nyungwe Forest 4 hours
Kigali - Cyangugu 6 hours
WHAT TIME DOES MY TOUR START?
All information, including start time, start location will be provided to you by email when you have confirmed your booking. Most tours start at 8am but we are very flexible and if you prefer a lie-in, or you want to take advantage of the cooler early morning temperatures we’re happy to fit to your schedule.