Skip to Content
Saved Flights
Your Saved Flights

No Saved Flights

  • Overview

    'Land of a Thousand Hills' (), as it is popularly known, Rwandais a small, lush country in central Africa. Rwanda's misty hillsare dotted with tea plantations, rugged mountains, and toweringvolcanoes. Despite being landlocked, Rwanda has several 'beaches'along Lake Kivu to the west, one of Africa's largest bodies ofwater.

    Sadly, this beautiful country is best known for the horrificgenocide of 1994, when nearly one million Rwandans were slaughteredin the space of about three months. This massacre was the result oflong-standing ethnic tension between the minority Tutsis and theHutus. Rwanda has recovered wonderfully from its tragic past, andis now a peaceful, unspoilt holiday destination that is rich inculture and wildlife, boasting fine food and one of the friendliestwelcomes in Africa. Luckily the world is catching on to theadvantages of this African gem and tourism is on the rise. Therapidly growing city of Kigali, situated at Rwanda's geographicalheart, is not only the capital but also the country's mostimportant business centre and the main point of entry. While it isnot a tourist hot spot, it contains some first-rate sites and isworth a quick exploration for travellers arriving fromoverseas.

    However, the real appeal of the country is outside the city, inthe magnificent national parks. The most popular activity fortourists in Rwanda is gorilla trekking. Meeting these gentle giantsin their natural habitat is widely acknowledged to be one of themost profound wildlife experiences in the world.

    A picturesque country with an incredible people and interestinghistory, Rwanda is one of the most fascinating travel destinationsin Africa.

    Rwanda is certainly a nature lover's paradise, and its focus ismainly ecotourism. It is an incredible country with a rich historyand a scenery and wildlife unlike any other.

    Home to the world's largest population of mountain gorillaswithin the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda's gorillas are certainlythe country's most popular tourist attraction. Gorilla tracking isvery much on every visitor's to-do list. Nyungwe Forest NationalPark is home to a large number of smaller primates, as well as morethan 275 bird species, while Akagera National Park is big gamecountry where herds of elephants and buffalo, lions, hippos andplains animals inhabit the archetypal African savannah landscapeset among a web of swamps and lakes. The waters of Lake Kivu areenclosed by green terraced hills that give way to beaches, inletsand the resort towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu, which alsomake for popular tourist sites.

    For those looking to delve into Rwanda's sobering history, atrip to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre will enlightenvisitors, and leave them in awe of a nation that has come far inits efforts to become the peaceful and beautiful country it istoday.

    Lake Kivu

    One of the African Great Lakes, Lake Kivu covers 1,040 squaremiles (2,700 sq km) on the border of Rwanda and the DemocraticRepublic of Congo. Three lakeside towns, Cyangugu, Kibuye, andGisenyi, are increasing in popularity with tourists with theiroppertunities water sports, island excursions, bird watching, andhiking.

    Shore of Lake Kivu Shore of Lake Kivu Adam Jones, Ph.D.
    Akagera National Park

    Located on the Rwandan border with Tanzania, Akagera NationalPark encompasses savannah, mountain and swamp ecoregions across its463 square miles (1,200 sq km) of territory. Named after theAkagera River that flows through it, the park is made up offorests, swamps, volcanic mountains, and vast savannah plains. Theplains are the most popular for safaris, with an abundance of biggame including lions, leopard, elephants, zebra, buffalo, giraffe,oribi, and impala. Camping alongside the lakes is a good way tospot birds like fish eagles, papyrus gonolek, and the elusiveshoebill stork.

    Address: Akagera, Kayonza
    Opening time: Daily 6am-6pm
    Topi in Akagera National Park Topi in Akagera National Park Braunov
    Dian Fossey’s Grave

    American zoologist Dian Fossey became famous for her dedicationto studying and protecting endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda.Her 18-year study inspired the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist, andpromoted primate conservation worldwide. She was murdered in 1985,and buried at Karisoke, a gravesite she had constructed forgorillas. The Karisoke Research Camp that was her base, sitsbetween two volcanoes, Mt Visoke, and Mt Karisimibi and stands atan altitude of 3,000m (9,000ft). The journey to her grave involvesa five-hour trek, and though the cabins and buildings are gone,visitors may glimpse buffalo, elephants, and even gorillas.

    The Dian Fossey Gorilla FundInternational The Dian Fossey Gorilla FundInternational Azurfrog
    Butare

    Once Rwanda's largest city, Butare (also known as Huye) isconsidered the intellectual capital of the country in contrast toKigali's political supremacy. It is home to several importantRwandan landmarks, including the Christian Cathedral and thenational University of Rwanda. The two most popular attractions inButare, however, are the National Museum of Rwanda, whichchronicles the cultural history of the region through displays ofphotos and traditional artefacts; and Nyanza, the traditional seatof Rwanda's feudal monarchy, site of the restored 19th-centuryRoyal Palace. The palace at Nyanza is home to the Rwesero ArtMuseum, Olympic Academy, Sport Museum, Cultural Centre, andstadiums of various sports.

    National Museum of Rwanda in Butare National Museum of Rwanda in Butare Amakuru
    Tea Plantations

    Tea is a major product of Rwanda's economy, with thousands oftons exported each year. The government is slowly privatisingplantations into cooperatives and 'Tea Societies', empowering localfarmers. Many visitors to Rwanda will enjoy seeing the plantationswith their dramatically-sloped fields and panoramic vistas.Locally-produced varieties of tea can be sampled and taken back assouvenirs from Rwanda. Plantations near Lake Kivu and NyungweForest are especially popular as package tour excursions.

    Tea Plantations Tea Plantations Huye
    Karisimbi Volcano

    With a name meaning 'white shell' is Kinyarwanda, MountKarisimbi sticks out above the other seven major mountains of theVirunga range that divide Rwanda from the Democratic Republic ofCongo. An inactive volcano, Karisimbi provides hiking and overnighttrekking opportunities for those in search of gorillas. Visitorscan visit the former site of Dian Fossey's research station, only afew hours away from the mountain.

    Mount Karisimbi Mount Karisimbi Amakuru
    Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

    Opened on the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994,the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre is a sobering museum dedicatedto the nearly one million people who lost their lives in theconflict. More than 250,000 people are buried at the centre, whichhas become an educational site with museums and exhibits dedicatedto preventing genocides around the world. The genocide which saw800,000 men, women, and children killed receives a meaningful andtasteful tribute with three permanent exhibitions, including theEducation Centre, Memorial Gardens, and National DocumentationCentre of the Genocide.

    Address: KG 14 Ave, Kigali
    Opening time: Daily 8am-4pm
    Website: www.kgm.rw
    Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre Dave Proffer
    Nyungwe National Park

    Situated amongst tea plantations, the Nyungwe National Park is ahigh-altitude rainforest reserve in the Rwandan section of theAlbertine Rift. Known for its extreme biodiversity, Nyungwe is hometo thousands of species, including primates like chimpanzees,colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, and olivebaboons, among others.

    There are several good trekking trails in Nyungwe, including theWaterfall Trail for bird-watchers, the Gisakura Tea Estate Trailfor monkey-lovers, and the Kamiranzovu Trail for elephant spotters.Visitors to Nyungwe National park should be prepared to get wet, asthe rainforest receives more than 79 inches (2,000mm) of rain eachyear.

    Address: KN6, Rusizi
    Opening time: Daily 6am-4pm
    Mantled guereza, found in Rwanda Mantled guereza, found in Rwanda Ryan E. Poplin

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Kigali experiences a pleasant, tropical highland climate withtemperatures that vary depending on altitude, but vary little frommonth to month in the same location. There are two wet seasons andtwo dry seasons; a long and a short one. The wettest time of yearis between March and May, while the driest months are July toSeptember. There is also rain between October and November.Temperatures rarely go above 86°F (30°C) during the day or dropbelow 59°F (15°C).

    Rwanda experiences a pleasant, tropical highland climate withtemperatures that vary depending on altitude, but vary little frommonth to month in the same location. There are two wet seasons andtwo dry seasons; a long and a short one. The wettest time of yearis between March and May, while the driest months are July toSeptember. There is also rain between October and November.Temperatures rarely go above 86°F (30°C) during the day or dropbelow 59°F (15°C), except on the upper slopes of the VirungaMountains where frosty conditions are possible.

    Kigali International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated about three miles (5km) fromcentral Kigali.
    Time: GMT +2.
    Transfer Between Terminals: The terminals are small and within easy walking distance of oneanother.
    Getting to the city: There is no public transport to Kigali from the airport, buttaxis are available.
    Car Rental: Car rentals are avaliable from the airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available from the airport.
    Fascilities: Facilities include currency exchange facilities, cafeterias, abusiness class lounge, duty-free shopping, a travel agency and atourist help desk. Facilities for the disabled are available.
    Parking Parking is available at the airport.
    Money:

    The official currency is the Rwanda Franc (RWF), which isdivided into 100 centimes. The US Dollar is the hard currency ofpreference. Credit cards are only accepted at the major hotels andrestaurants in Kigali.

    Language:

    Kinyarwanda, French, and English are the officiallanguages. French is widely spoken, but English is limited to a fewpeople in the tourist centres.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 230-240 volts, 50Hz. Europeantwo-pin plugs are the most commonly used.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals require a passport valid for six months beyondarrival date. A visa is required and can be aquired upon arrivalfor a stay of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extendtheir visa within 15 days of arrival.

    UK nationals require a passport valid for six months beyondarrival date. A visa can be aquired on arrival for up to 30 daysfor a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within 15 daysof arrival.

    Canadians require a passport valid for six months beyond arrivaldate. A visa on arrival can be obtained for stays of up to 30 daysfor a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

    Australians require a passport valid for six months beyondarrival date, visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

    South Africans require a passport valid for six months beyondarrival date. Visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within15 days of arrival.

    Irish nationals require a passport valid for six months beyondarrival date. A visa can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 30days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

    US nationals require a passport valid for six months beyondarrival date. A visa is required and can be aquired upon arrivalfor a stay of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extendtheir visa within 15 days of arrival.

    New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for six monthsbeyond arrival date. Visas can be obtained on arrival for stays ofup to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend theirvisa.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Passport and/or passport replacing documents must be valid forat least six months beyond arrival in Rwanda for all nationalities.It is always highly recommended that passports have at least sixmonths validity remaining after your intended date of departurefrom your travel destination. E-visas can be obtained beforedeparture at www.migration.gov.rw . Passengers must have a printede-visa confirmation. A valid "East African Tourist Visa" issued byKenya or Uganda is accepted, if having first entered the countrythat issued the visa. The visa is valid for 90 days and multipleentries/re-entries. Immigration officials often apply differentrules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    There is a year-round risk of malaria throughout Rwanda andtravellers are advised to take a course of prophylactics. A yellowfever certificate is required by all visitors and inoculation isalso recommended. Hepatitis A and Meningococcus vaccinations arealso recommended, as well as a polio booster for those who have nothad one as an adult. Cholera outbreaks are not uncommon. Bottleddrinking water is available in all towns. Medical facilities arelimited and medical supplies may be unavailable, although hospitalsare located in all major towns. Comprehensive medical insurance isadvised.

    Tipping:

    Tipping is not customary in most places in Rwanda, although itis appreciated. Guides on gorilla treks expect to be well tipped;amounts vary, but 10 percent is common.

    Safety Information:

    Crime levels are relatively low in Rwanda, although touristsshould be alert to bag snatching and incidents of petty theft.Travel to the border areas with Burundi and the DRC is not advised.Trips to see the gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park shouldonly be undertaken as part of a guided trek. Rwanda is considered alow threat for terrorism, however there are reports of randomgrenade attacks as recently as March 2012 and travellers should bevigilant at bus stops and other public areas. The roads in majortowns are good, however travel after dark is not advisable;landslides are common during the rainy season (late spring to earlyautumn).

    Local Customs:

    Photography of government buildings is prohibited in Rwanda.Plastic bags have been banned for environmental reasons and will beconfiscated on arrival at the airport. It is considered impolite toask someone about their ethnic origin.

    Business:

    A handshake is the normal form of greeting. A knowledge ofFrench is useful as English is not widely spoken; interpreters maybe required. Culturally, a direct 'no' to a proposal is rare, andnegotiations are often lengthy. Lightweight suits are suitableattire for meetings, which need to be arranged in advance.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Rwanda is +250. Prepaidlocal SIM cards can be purchased as a cheaper alternative to usinginternational roaming. Free wifi is available at most upscalehotels and there are some internet cafes in Kigali.

    Duty Free:

    Passengers older than 16 years may bring 250g of tobaccoproducts, one litre of spirits, two litres of wine, and 500ml ofperfume into the country without incurring import duties.

    Useful Contacts:

    Rwanda Development Board, Kigali: +250 72 777 5170 orwww.rwandatourism.com

    Rwanda Embassies:

    Rwanda Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 2322882.

    Rwanda Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible forIreland): +44 (0)20 7224 9832.

    Rwanda High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: (613) 569 5420

    Rwanda Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 6536.

    Rwanda Embassy, Melbourne, Australia: +61 (0) 401 099 115.

    Rwandan Consulate, Dublin, Ireland: (+353) 1 490 5647.

    Foreign Embassies in Rwanda :

    United States Embassy, Kigali: +250 596 400.

    British Embassy, Kigali: +250 252 556 000.

    Canadian High Commission, Kigali, Rwanda: +250 252 573 210.

    South African Embassy, Kigali: +250 252 551 300.

    Australian High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya (also responsible forRwanda): +254 (0)20 427 7100.

    Irish Embassy, Kampala, Uganda (also responsible for Rwanda):+256 (0)41 7713 000.

    Rwanda Emergency Numbers : Fire Department: 111, Emergency: 112, Ambulance inKigali: 912
    Rwanda

    Taxis are available in town. Motorcycle taxis are a cheaperoption for direct travel, but the high speeds are not for the faintof heart. The cheapest way to get around Kigali is by matatus, theubiquitous minibus taxis, which stop at any point along set routes.Rental vehicles are available, but not recommended for first timevisitors as the roads around the country are in poor condition.Coach companies are available from Kigali for certain locationsthroughout Rwanda.

    Volcanoes National Park

    Often considered the best nature park in Rwanda, VolcanoesNational Park (known locally as Parc National des Volcans) islocated in northwestern Rwanda, not far from Kigali. A haven forthe elusive and fascinating primates, the park encompasses theVirunga Mountains and is the best place in Rwanda to see mountaingorillas, golden monkeys, and other animals. Popular trips includeclimbing the Karisimbi and Bisoke volcanoes, touring the lakes andcaves of the park, and visiting the tomb of famous gorillaresearcher Dian Fossey. The market town of Musanze is located atthe base of the Virungas, and makes a good base from which toexplore the park.

    Address: Kinigi, Ruhengeri
    Opening time: Daily 6am-4pm.
    Gorillas in Rwanda at the Volcanoes NationalPark Gorillas in Rwanda at the Volcanoes NationalPark Derek Keats