Rwanda!! The land of a thousand hills and welcoming beautiful people. Rwanda is a scenically stunning little country with the majestic Virunga volcanoes in the northwest with the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas hidden in the bamboo forests for you to unhide on your Rwanda safari and not forgetting the beautiful Lake Kivu that has some of the best inland beaches for the utmost relaxation on an Africa safari.
Rwanda is also home to the primate hub, Nyungwe forest national park with the extensive tracts of montane rainforest with most primates that can be seen anywhere in Africa and Akagera national park for the best game drives.
Finally Rwanda also has the friendly capital city – Kigali with many other tourist attractions. However, Just like traveling to any other new destination, traveling to Rwanda especially for the first time require essential tips to ensure safe and enjoyable stay.
So we’ve compiled a short guide to help ensure you keep safe as you make the most of your visit to this extraordinary country by answering the most daunting questions frequently asked by most visitors about Rwanda.
Safety on safari in Rwanda
Rwanda’s safety is a topic that is asked by most would be travelers to the beautiful nation. Its safety is always asked in various fashions which include; Is Rwanda safe for tourism? Is Rwanda safe for single female travelers? Is Rwanda safe for children? Is Rwanda safe for American travelers and anyone else? Below is a comprehensive summary analysis of Rwanda’s safety in regards to the tourism sector.
Rwanda is considered one of the safest tourist destination that’s why one tour agents considered it to be among the African world class safari destination. Therefore Rwanda is safe for all types of travelers including solo female travelers, family travelers with children. Crime is relatively low, with visitors sometimes experiencing petty theft like Pickpockets who are active in crowded places like markets and also hired cars may be broken into for valuables in case they are left seen and unattended to. However violent crimes against travelers are rare and locals are welcoming, friendly and hospitable.
While on a safari in Rwanda, we highly encourage that you follow the laws that govern the country like the plastic bags and bottles are not allowed to be littered, follow traffic lights and driving speeds, take precaution when walking in the night and finally we advise Women travelers to dress modestly out of respect for the local culture.
Time to Visit Rwanda – Best time to visit Rwanda
When to visit Rwanda
Rwanda is blessed with conducive climate with both wet and dry seasons with mild conditions all year round. However your safari interest will determine the time suitable to visit for example those who want to do safari game viewing are advised to visit during the drying season since wild animals are always easy to spot as they hunt and the driving tracks are always easy to navigate hence game drives are best done during the dry season whereas those who enjoy primates and birds are advised to visit during the wet season when all birds and primates with draw closer to the walking tracks to feed on the fruits near by the tracks.
Dry season covers months of June, July, august, September, October, December and January and the rainy season covers the months of the March, April, and November that also have many discounts on room rates and transport costs with fewer crowds in national parks and other tourism spots all over Rwanda.
Health tips for an African safari in Rwanda
Most travel enthusiasts always ask about the travel health requirements and tips when planning for any travel especially to unfamiliar locations like Africa. In this health section we are going to answer the most popular questions asked by most Africa safari.
Vaccination- what are the mandatory vaccinations do I need to travel to Rwanda?
Yellow fever vaccination should be taken prior to travel and bring your certificate with you in order to avoid inconveniences. A rabies vaccination is recommended for anyone who expects to be in close contact with animals especially those that prefer habituation activities. Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, polio, tetanus and typhoid vaccinations are also recommended
Be aware that some of these require a course of injections, and others take several days to take effect, so you should visit your doctor or travel clinic as soon as possible before you travel.
Malaria – Do I need anti-malaria tablets while on safari in Rwanda?
Rwanda is a high risk malaria country and the government has taken significant steps to try and eradicate this disease with various community initiatives. However, we highly recommend that you take a visit to a travel clinic or your general doctor and tell them about your intention to travel to Rwanda so that they can prescribe the right anti-malarial medication since there are some medications that are ineffective to the type of malaria in Rwanda. However, we do advice that you prevent malaria by covering up at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and finally always sleep in a treated mosquito net.
Health facilities and emergency- are there good health care services and healthcare emergency services?
Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you begin your trip since by Rwandan law, anyone traveling in the country must have health insurance. If you arrive into the country without it, you have 30 days to sort it out including medical evacuation in case of an emergency. There are a few specialized hospitals around Rwanda to take care of any emergency.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION IN RWANDA
This section has many questions that are frequently asked especially about transport and we are going to give you our honest answers below;
Tourist Visas to Rwanda – Do I need a visa before travelling to Rwanda?
Yes! You need a passport to travel to Rwanda and it must have a six months validity from your day of travel. Visas are also required when entering Rwanda except citizens of USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Kenya and South Africa. Both one entry and multiple entry tourist visas can be purchased from your nearest Rwandan embassy or consulate. These Rwandan visas are valid for three months and can usually be extended in Kigali on a monthly payment basis.
Rwanda is currently using English and French as their official languages as most native Rwandese have been taught those two languages as their medium of communication with foreigners. However most locals enjoy using the Kinyarwanda which is their local language that is spoken in most local places like markets, shops, streets and public transport. We highly advice that you learn how to greet in the local language if you are to travel solo.
Transport- what is the status of Rwanda’s transport sector?
Rwanda is one of the most accessible African country because it’s connected with most of the world’s large airline companies that help to supplement the country Rwanda Air which also currently flies to most world destinations. Rwanda Air has good customer care which will guarantee you a safe journey to and from Rwanda.
Rwanda has one of the most developed transport system in Africa with most roads tarmacked that connect the capital city -Kigali to all major towns. We highly recommend using a hire car that transports a single customer at a time for your own convenience however, there are Shared taxis (mini-vans) and motorbike taxis are the most common form of public transport within towns and around the country.
DRESS CODE AND EQUIPMENT TO CARRY FOR THE SAFARI
Most first time safari tourists to Rwanda always ask questions about Equipment to carry and Dress code which include questions like what equipment should I carry when coming for a Rwanda safari? What to wear in Rwanda on Safari. We have written a brief summary of the equipment and dress code to consider when coming to Rwanda for a safari.
When going for any African safari, preparation is so much key and your bag pack should have all you might need for gorilla trekking in Rwanda -is most known for its volcano mountain national park that is home to the unique mountain gorillas. The equipment to pack should include; thick trousers and long-sleeved tops, long socks, a pair of light gloves to protect against nettles, a hat, a raincoat, a pair of sturdy, comfortable hiking boots, warm jacket for the cold weather, sunscreen and insect repellent
Currency – are foreign currencies allowed in Rwanda?
Rwanda’s unit of currency is the Rwandan franc but we recommend bringing US dollars (post-20013 bills only) or euros in cash. We highly recommend that you do all the necessary banking in Kigali as few banks exist outside the capital however Credit cards are accepted in some of the larger bars, hotels, and restaurants and in some supermarkets
Tipping – Is it standard to tip in Rwanda?
Tipping safari staff is not compulsory but it will be greatly appreciated for their good service however we do not have a standard tip amount in Rwanda so any amount is always welcome and it might surprise how much an impact it will have on that person. Nevertheless, 10% of the final bill is standard tip for staff in higher end restaurants in town and if you are doing a gorilla trek, – amounts vary depending on the size of your group and the level of assistance required but your porter should get the highest tip.