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Rwanda

RWANDA TRAVEL GUIDE

Officially the Republic of Rwanda is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge. One of the smallest countries on the African mainland, its capital city is Kigali.

 

Rwanda, at the heart of East Africa, has had its heart ripped out time and again, as its people victims of some of the most brutal genocides in human history. But Rwanda has been quick to pick itself up and get on even keel. The recovery has been rapid and nothing short of incredible.

 

Rwanda is a beautiful country of grasslands and rainforests, of lakes, springs and rivers, of high mountains, extinct and active volcanoes and of a great variety of rare fauna and flora. A peace accord, international intervention and foreign aid have brought a tenuous calm to Rwanda but ethnic tensions still simmer beneath the surface.

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  • Capital: Kigali

  • Currency: Rwandan franc (RWF)

  • Area: 26,338 km2

  • Population: 12,3 million (2018)

  • Language: Kinyarwanda (official) , French (official), English (official), Kiswahili (Swahili)

  • Religion: Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%

  • Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European plug)

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BEST TIME TO VISIT RWANDA

The best time to visit Rwanda largely depends on what you want to do and see during your visit. Rwanda is a year-round destination, but there are some differences in weather and activities based on the season.

 

The dry season, from June to September, is generally considered the best time to visit Rwanda, as the weather is dry and mild, with plenty of sunshine. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect higher prices and more crowds.

 

The wet season, from March to May and October to December, is also a good time to visit Rwanda, especially for birdwatching and gorilla tracking. The rain can make some areas inaccessible, but the countryside is lush and green, and the birdlife is more active.

 

Overall, the best time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking is during the dry season. However, if you are interested in bird watching, the wet season can be a great time to visit. Additionally, if you are interested in seeing the baby gorillas, the best time to visit is during February or early March.

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RWANDA WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Rwanda lies within the equatorial zone, but has sizeable mountains and hills that moderate its climate and cause it to be more temperate. Generally, rainfall follows a gradient from west to east with the western regions experiencing more annual rainfall than the eastern. The mean annual temperature of Rwanda is around 18°C with maximum temperatures of about 25°C and minimum temperatures of 13°C. There are two rainy seasons and two dry seasons within Rwanda that are controlled by the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), as it travels back and forth between the Equator and Tropic of Capricorn throughout the year. One rainy season occurs from March-May and another from September-December. Rwanda receives an average annual rainfall of around 1,295 mm, with the highest monthly rainfall occurring in April, which has an average monthly rainfall total of 157 mm.

Rwanda

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN RWANDA

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Travel Safety

HEALTH RISKS IN RWANDA

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Rwanda

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

RWANDA TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of travel to Rwanda can vary depending on various factors, such as your travel style, the season of your visit, your accommodation choices, and your activities. Here are some rough estimates to give you an idea of the costs involved:

  • Flights: International flights to Rwanda can range from $600 to $1500 or more, depending on where you're traveling from and when you're booking.
  • Accommodation: Accommodation costs can vary widely depending on the level of luxury you're looking for. Budget accommodation options such as hostels and guesthouses can cost around $15 to $40 per night, while mid-range hotels can cost between $80 to $150 per night. Luxury lodges can cost upwards of $500 per night.
  • Food: Food in Rwanda is generally inexpensive, and you can expect to spend around $5 to $15 per meal at a local restaurant or cafe.
  • Activities: The cost of activities in Rwanda can vary depending on what you're interested in doing. Gorilla trekking permits, which are a popular activity in the country, cost $1500 per person for a one-hour encounter. Other activities, such as visiting national parks, museums, or cultural sites, can cost between $10 to $50 per person.

Overall, budget travelers can expect to spend around $50 to $70 per day, while mid-range travelers can expect to spend around $100 to $200 per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of $500 per day. However, it's important to note that these are just rough estimates, and the actual cost of your trip will depend on your individual travel preferences and choices.

Cost & Spending

RWANDA TRAVEL TIPS

Here are some travel tips to keep in mind when planning a trip to Rwanda:

  • Get your visas and vaccinations in order: Make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations and visa requirements in order before traveling to Rwanda. You can check with your embassy or consulate for specific requirements.
  • Pack appropriate clothing: Rwanda's weather can be unpredictable, so it's best to pack layers and prepare for both warm and cool weather. Additionally, if you plan to go gorilla trekking, it's essential to pack appropriate hiking boots and clothing.
  • Respect local customs and culture: Rwanda has a rich cultural heritage, and it's important to respect local customs and traditions. For example, it's customary to greet people with a handshake or a bow, and it's essential to dress modestly in public places.
  • Use local transportation: Using local transportation, such as buses and shared taxis, is an affordable and authentic way to experience Rwanda. However, be aware of your belongings and keep an eye on your luggage.
  • Hire a local guide: Hiring a local guide is a great way to learn more about Rwanda's history and culture. They can also help you navigate local transportation and provide insider tips on the best places to visit.
  • Be cautious with street food: Rwandan street food can be delicious, but it's important to be cautious with what you eat to avoid foodborne illnesses. Stick to food vendors with a high turnover of customers and avoid eating raw or undercooked meat.
  • Respect wildlife: Rwanda is home to several endangered species, including the mountain gorilla. When going gorilla trekking, make sure to follow the guidelines and regulations set by the park rangers to protect the gorillas and their habitat.

Overall, Rwanda is a beautiful and welcoming country with a lot to offer travelers. By following these tips, you can make the most of your trip and have a memorable experience.

Travel Tips

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF RWANDA

Rwanda is divided into five provinces, each with its unique attractions and highlights. Here are the main regions of Rwanda and some of their highlights:

  • Kigali City: Kigali is Rwanda's capital city and the country's economic and cultural hub. It's a vibrant city with a mix of modern and traditional architecture, excellent restaurants, and a lively nightlife. Some of the city's highlights include the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the Caplaki Handicrafts Cooperative, and the Kimironko Market.
  • Northern Province: The Northern Province is known for its stunning natural beauty, including the Volcanoes National Park, home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Visitors can go gorilla trekking, hiking, and visit the nearby lakes and waterfalls. Other highlights include the Musanze Caves, the Ruhengeri town market, and the Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village.
  • Southern Province: The Southern Province is the largest of Rwanda's provinces and home to several national parks, including Nyungwe Forest National Park, which is famous for its chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. Other highlights include the Huye Ethnographic Museum, the Nyanza King's Palace, and the Butare National Museum.
  • Eastern Province: The Eastern Province is known for its cultural attractions, including the Inyange Industries dairy plant and the Rwanda Nziza Project, which produces high-quality coffee. Visitors can also explore the Akagera National Park, home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, and hippos.
  • Western Province: The Western Province is a picturesque region with stunning natural beauty, including the Lake Kivu and its surrounding mountains. Visitors can go hiking, biking, and visit the Gishwati-Mukura National Park, which is home to several endangered species. Other highlights include the Congo Nile Trail, the Ethnographic Museum of Karongi, and the Bisesero Genocide Memorial.

Overall, Rwanda has something to offer for everyone, from stunning natural beauty to cultural attractions and historical landmarks. By exploring the country's various regions, you can get a deeper understanding of Rwanda's history and culture while enjoying its beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

Highlights
What To See & Do
Travel Map

Rwanda has a lot to offer visitors, from stunning natural beauty and wildlife to cultural attractions and historical landmarks. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Rwanda:

  • Go gorilla trekking: Rwanda is one of the few places in the world where you can see the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. A gorilla trekking experience is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that allows you to get up close and personal with these incredible animals.
  • Visit Nyungwe Forest National Park: Nyungwe Forest is one of the largest montane forests in East Africa and is home to over 13 species of primates, including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. Visitors can go hiking, bird watching, and take guided nature walks.
  • Explore Kigali: Rwanda's capital city, Kigali, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a mix of modern and traditional architecture. Visitors can explore the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the Kimironko Market, and the Caplaki Handicrafts Cooperative.
  • Learn about Rwanda's history and culture: Rwanda has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors can learn about the country's history and traditions at various museums and cultural sites, such as the Rukari Palace Museum and the National Museum of Rwanda.
  • Visit Lake Kivu: Lake Kivu is a stunning freshwater lake that offers visitors a range of activities, including boat rides, kayaking, and swimming. Visitors can also explore the nearby beaches and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Take part in community tourism: Rwanda is known for its community-based tourism initiatives that allow visitors to experience the country's culture and traditions firsthand. Visitors can take part in activities such as traditional dance performances, home visits, and village walks.
  • Explore Akagera National Park: Akagera National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, and hippos. Visitors can go on guided game drives, bird watching, and boat rides on Lake Ihema.

Overall, Rwanda offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you're interested in wildlife, culture, or history, Rwanda has something to offer for everyone.

Rwanda
What To Eat

WHAT TO EAT IN RWANDA

WHAT TO EAT IN RWANDA

Rwandan cuisine is diverse and flavorful, with a mix of traditional and modern dishes. Here are some of the foods you should try when visiting Rwanda:

  • Ugali: Ugali is a staple food in Rwanda and is made from maize flour or cassava flour. It's often served with stews or meat dishes.
  • Rwandan Beans and Rice: This is a classic Rwandan dish, made with red beans and served with rice. It's a simple yet delicious dish that's commonly eaten for lunch or dinner.
  • Isombe: Isombe is a dish made from cassava leaves, eggplant, and spinach. It's often served with meat and is a popular dish in Rwanda.
  • Grilled meat: Rwanda is known for its grilled meat dishes, such as brochettes (skewered meat) and nyama choma (grilled meat). These dishes are often served with sides such as plantains, french fries, or salad.
  • Fruits: Rwanda has a variety of delicious tropical fruits, including mangoes, pineapples, and papayas. These fruits are often served as desserts or snacks.
  • Chapati: Chapati is a type of flatbread that's popular in Rwanda. It's often served with stews or curries and is a great option for vegetarians.
  • Injera: Injera is a sourdough flatbread that's commonly eaten in Ethiopia and Eritrea, but it's also popular in Rwanda. It's often served with stews and is a great option for gluten-free diets.

Overall, Rwandan cuisine is diverse and delicious, with a range of flavors and dishes to suit all tastes. Whether you're a meat lover or a vegetarian, you're sure to find something delicious to eat in Rwanda.

LGBTQ IN RWANDA

Rwanda

WHERE TO STAY IN RWANDA

When visiting Rwanda for the first time, there are several key areas to consider for your stay, each offering its own unique experiences and attractions. Here are some top areas to stay in Rwanda, along with specific accommodation suggestions for different budget ranges:


Where To Stay In Kigali:

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda and serves as the main gateway to the country. It offers a mix of modern amenities, cultural attractions, and historical sites.

Budget Accommodation:

  • Five to Five Hotel: Situated in the Kiyovu neighborhood, this budget hotel features simple rooms, a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, and easy access to attractions.

Mid-Range Accommodation:

  • Urban by CityBlue Kigali: A mid-range hotel located in the city center, offering comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and a restaurant serving fusion cuisine.

  • Heaven Boutique Hotel: Situated in the Kiyovu neighborhood, this mid-range hotel features stylish rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant with panoramic views of the city.

Luxury Accommodation:

  • Kigali Marriott Hotel: A luxury hotel located near the Convention Center, offering luxurious rooms, a spa, swimming pool, and multiple dining options including a steakhouse.

  • Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre Kigali: Situated near the airport, this luxury hotel features elegant rooms, a spa, swimming pool, and several dining options including a rooftop bar.


Where To Stay In Volcanoes National Park:

Volcanoes National Park is one of Rwanda's premier attractions, known for its population of mountain gorillas and stunning volcanic landscapes.

Budget Accommodation:

  • Red Rocks Rwanda: Situated in Musanze town, this budget lodge features basic accommodation in cottages, a communal dining area, and cultural experiences such as traditional dance performances.

Mid-Range Accommodation:

  • Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge: Situated in Musanze town, this mid-range lodge features cozy rooms, a garden terrace, and easy access to gorilla trekking activities.

Luxury Accommodation:

  • Virunga Lodge: A luxury eco-lodge located on a hilltop overlooking the park, offering luxurious cottages, a spa, infinity pool, and panoramic views of the Virunga volcanoes.

  • Bisate Lodge: Situated near the park entrance, this luxury lodge features luxurious villas, a spa, gourmet dining, and guided gorilla trekking experiences.


Where To Stay In Nyungwe Forest National Park:

Nyungwe Forest National Park is renowned for its biodiversity, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and diverse bird species.

Budget Accommodation:

  • Gisakura Guest House: Located near the park entrance, this budget-friendly guesthouse offers simple rooms, home-cooked meals, and guided nature walks.

Mid-Range Accommodation:

  • Nyungwe Forest Lodge: A mid-range lodge located within the park, offering comfortable rooms, a spa, infinity pool, and guided chimpanzee trekking experiences.

Luxury Accommodation:

  • One&Only Nyungwe House: A luxury lodge located within the park, offering luxurious rooms, a spa, infinity pool, and exclusive experiences such as helicopter tours and canopy walks.


These are just a few suggestions, and there are many other accommodation options available in Rwanda to suit different preferences and budgets. Be sure to consider factors such as location, amenities, and guest reviews when selecting your accommodation in Rwanda.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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