Rwanda Quick Guide

If you're planning a trip to East Africa, Rwanda will be one of your stops. Rwanda, formally the Republic of Rwanda, is an extremely beautiful landlocked nation in the Great Rift Valley, between the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Founded in Rwanda during the era of French colonialists, Rwanda enjoys one of the most stable democracies in East Africa. Rwanda is borders the countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It shares its border with many smaller countries.

For travelers new to the region, a Rwanda travel guide can be an invaluable aid in locating the best hotels, lodges, and restaurants. Rwanda boasts some of the best wildlife parks in Africa and is home to over 20 unique species of primates. Among the primates, the gorilla is perhaps the most solitary of all, roaming the continent's central African wilderness.

The mountain gorilla is the most endangered primate in the world. The world's only five-toed gorilla, mountain gorilla, is believed to numbers around one hundred fifty. A Rwanda travel guide can help determine if you are seeing the great wild gorilla or one of its close relatives, the mountain gorillas. These two species share similar characteristics, including thick fur, strong bones, dense muscles, and an advanced sense of smell. However, the mountain gorillas are slightly larger and possess larger feet and hands.

Although not related to the gorilla, some of these same considerations apply to the world's smallest monkey, the Chimpanzee. Both species lack vocal cords and are known for their strange, chirping sounds. The smaller primate species have been observed in a number of locations throughout Rwanda; however, they are rarely seen in mountainous terrain and usually reside in protected environments. Rwanda Travel Guide will tell you which areas of Rwanda are best to see and explore, as well as what to look for while hiking or trekking. In addition, some of the more popular trekking destinations include the Volcanoes National Park, the Volcanoes National Lake, and the Nyungwe Game Reserve.

Among the more unusual animal encounters that could be experienced in Rwanda include leopards, black rhinos, and hippos. It has been suggested that some of these animals are not considered endangered, but to better assist in their conservation, several groups are working together to raise funds for the preservation of certain animals. For example, the Rwanda Travel Guide suggests that travelers check out the Volcanoes National Park, where you can observe leopards, black rhinoceroses, hippos, and pygmy hippos (though not the latter due to severe population reduction). Another suggestion from the Rwanda Travel Guide states that fellow travelers planning to do some gorilla trekking should not attempt to board kangaroos or monitor them at any cost.

Despite the fact that the Rwanda Travel Guide cautions against bringing your camera with you, it has been recorded that numerous individuals have witnessed gorilla trekking and have personally witnessed the kills of black rhinoceroses and pygmy hippos. Despite the fact that it is illegal to photograph any wild animal in Rwanda and that one can be charged with a criminal offence for illegal photography, several individuals have still taken photos and videos of these animals. The Rwanda Travel Guide warns, "Nothing is free in this world," and, "Nothing in life is free." As an example of this, it is recommended that one does not feed wild animals as this could result in dire consequences.

One activity that is prohibited in Rwanda and that many tourists would be wise to avoid is mountain climbing, because the government has threatened to shut down the Akagera National Park due to the increased number of visitors who attempt to scale the volcano. The Rwanda Travel Guide cautions, "Mountain climbing is extremely dangerous and should be avoided if possible." The Rwanda tourism office cautions against using radios or other mobile communication devices while hiking or camping in the park. The park is also closed to all vehicle traffic between February and May.

The Rwanda Travel Guide reminds holidayers that they should avoid the park altogether, because the gorillas are on the brink of becoming extinct. There are many other attractions in Rwanda such as the Volcanoes National Park, but the gorillas are the most appealing. The Rwanda Travel Guide cautions, "The chances of seeing gorillas in Volcanoes are small, especially at night." There are only a few hundred mountain gorillas left in the whole continent. The Rwanda Travel Guide also notes, "The greatest danger to the remaining gorillas is poachers."

What vaccinations do I need?

Up to date information for vaccinations before you travel to Rwanda are available from the NHS Fit for Travel website.

Is it safe to travel?

Best time to visit?

June to mid-September is the long dry season; this is generally the best time to visit if you have the choice. October to November is a shorter rainy season and it's followed by a short dry season from December to February.

Do I need a Visa?

You need a visa to enter Rwanda. 30 day tourist visas are available on arrival for £20 or $30. If you're planning to apply for resident/business or missionary multiple entry visas on entry to Rwanda you will need to get UK police clearance before you travel.

See which forms you may need for entry into Rwanda.

What currency do i need?

The official currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF). If you're looking to transfer or spend money in Rwanda you can grab amazing Rwandan Franc deals via (GBP to RWF).

What about the wildlife?

Home to rare mountain gorillas, lions, rhinoceroses, elephants, giraffes, zebras, over 700 bird species, and so much more, visiting Rwanda should be at the top of anywildlife lover's bucket list.

What is the traditional food?

Kinyarwanda food? Brochettes is the National Dish of Rwanda, the meat on a skewer can be goat, beef, chicken, pork, fish.

What Languages are spoken?

Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda, and the first language of almost the entire population of the country. It is one of the country's official languages alongside French, English, and Swahili. You can learn some basic Kinyarwanda before you travel to Rwanda and really impress the locals!

How much do you tip?

The currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (A 10% tip to the waiter is standard, depending on the quality of service. Hotel porters usually expect a tip equivalent to around £1 per item of luggage. Tip in localcurrency where possible; it may be quite difficult for locals to exchange small amounts of hard currency into Rwanda francs.).

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Useful Numbers

  • Police: 112
  • Ambulance: 912
  • Fire: 112
  • UK Embassy: +250 252 556 000

Time Difference

The GMT time difference is 2 hours

Travel Apps

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Learn Kinyarwanda

Learn some Kinyarwanda before your trip to Rwanda

Rwanda Guidebook

Stay informed before, during and after your trip to Rwanda by buying a guidebook.