Travel to Rwanda

 

GETTING THERE:
All international flights arrive at Kigali International Airport, 10 Km from central Kigali. International flights are with KLM from Amsterdam (every day), Rwandair from Brussels and London, SN Brussels from Brussels , Turkish Airways from Istanbul and Qatar Airways.
Regional flights are with Rwandair, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.
As KLM has partnered with Air France and Delta (USA), flights via Amsterdam are probably the best alternative.

PASSPORT AND VISA:
A valid passport is mandatory. Visas are delivered on arrival free of charge for nationals of the African Union, Commonwealth and Francophonie. Nationals of all other countries get a Visa on arrival at a cost of ~25€ /30$.

» Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration: Visa Services

MONEY:
The unit of currency is the Rwanda franc. The Euro and US dollar are the hard currencies of preference. Credit cards are accepted at most places and ATM’s. Forex offices have quite advantageous fees for currency change.

LANGUAGE:
In addition to the indigenous language of Kinyarwanda, English and french are official languages. English is widely spoken throughout the country. As the language shift from french to english is only few years ago, french is also most common.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:
Good Friday and Easter Monday, which fall on variable dates, are recognised in Rwanda. Other public holidays are 1 January (New Year’s Day); 7 April (Genocide Memorial Day); 1 May (Labour Day); 1 July (Independence Day); 4 July (National Liberation Day); 1 August (Harvest Festival); 15 August (Assumption Day); 25 September (Republic Day); 1 October (Heroes Day); 1 November (All Saints’ Day) and 25 (Christmas Day).

WHEN TO VISIT:
Rwanda can be visited throughout the year. Gorilla tracking and other forest walks are less demanding during the drier months. The European winter is the best time for birds, as Palaearctic migrants supplement resident species.

WHAT TO WEAR:
Dress codes are informal. Daytime temperatures are generally warm, so bring lots of light clothing, supplemented by light sweaters for the cool evenings and heavier clothing for the Parc des Volcans and Nyungwe. When tracking gorillas, wear sturdier clothing to protect against stinging nettles, and solid walking shoes. A hat and sunglasses provide protection against the sun, and a waterproof jacket may come in handy in the moist mountains.

WHAT TO BRING:
Binoculars will greatly enhance game drives and forest walks, as will a good field guide to East African birds. Bring a camera and an adequate stock of film. Print film is available but transparency film is not. Toiletries and other essentials can be bought in the cities.

COMMUNICATIONS:
Rwanda has excellent cell phone networks covering almost the entire country. MTN and AIRTEL/TIGO have both a countrywide coverage. 3G is available in most greater areas. EDGE on 2G is activated countrywide. International phone calls can be made easily, but “00” is not accepted, please use “+” for international calls and SMS. Local SIM cards for all networks are readily available everywhere, even in remote towns, registration is needed. Most towns of any size will have several Internet cafes and computer centres.
A 4G-LTE wholesale network with nationwide coverage is also available, access is provided through third-party communications companies (best solution: from the 2 mobile networks, for 3G/2G fall-back, if out of 4G coverage)
In Kigali, a free wireless network (Smart Kigali) is available at many public places (schools, hotels, shopping malls, bus- and taxi stations, inside several buses, at Amahoro Stadium, …)
All Hotels are providing free Wifi for their guests.

GETTING AROUND:
Rwanda has possibly the best roads in East Africa. Most visitors who have booked through a tour company will be provided with good private vehicles, usually 4-wheel drive. All of the major centres are connected with local and luxury bus services. Air charter services are available anywhere in the country and well advertised.

HIKING AND BIKING:
The fine road network, with little traffic, offers wonderful opportunities for long bicycle trips across the verdant hills and valleys. Mountain biking and hiking can be enjoyed on the thousands of kilometres of fine rural trails linking remote villages, criss-crossing the entire country.

GORILLA PERMITS:
Gorilla Permits can be arranged by a travel operator, or can be purchased directly through RDB (Rwanda Developpement Board) at the headquarters in Kigali.
Access to the trekking starting point with 4WD cars has to be arranged by the visitor himself (alternatively by a travel operator or a hotel)

SAFETY & HEALTH:
A certificate of yellow-fever vaccination is required. Much of Rwanda lies at too high an elevation for malaria to be a major concern, but the disease is present and prophylactic drugs are strongly recommended. It is advisable not to drink tap water. Bottled mineral water can be bought in all towns. Hospitals are located in all major towns.

SEASONS AND CLIMATE:
A combination of tropical location and high altitude ensures that most of Rwanda has a temperate year-round climate. Temperatures rarely stray above 30 degrees Celsius by day or below 15 degrees Celsius at night throughout the year. The exceptions are the chilly upper slopes of the Virunga Mountains, and the hot low-lying Tanzania border area protected in Akagera National Park. Throughout the country, seasonal variations in temperature are relatively insignificant. Most parts of the country receive in excess of 1,000mm of precipitation annually, with the driest months being July to September and the wettest February to May.

DRIVER AND GUIDE CONTACT:
ALMK (Amis Luxembourgeois du Marathon de Kigali) has good experience with a small Kigali based Tour operator. Basic 4-weel drive Landcruizer, no luxery, but exceptional guides. We can  provide the contact.
ALMK contact: almk ‘at’ kigalimarathon.org