10 Rwanda Travel Tips
10 Rwanda Travel Tips are some of the key points that are noted for a traveler to be able to have a successful and interesting Rwanda Safari tour. Rwanda in recent years has become the go-to destination for luxury safaris in Africa especially Gorilla trekking safaris. Being one of the three countries with the endangered mountain gorillas living in their natural habitats, Rwanda receives thousands of tourists each year who come to the country for gorillas trekking safaris in Volcanoes National park.
With two other National parks the tourists top up their gorilla trekking safaris with chimpanzee trekking and canopy walks in Nyungwe National Park and game drives and nature experiences in Akagera National Park; not forgetting city tours that include visits to the genocide memorial centers across the country’s capital Kigali.
Because of its past, that is filled with incidences of violence; whenever the name Rwanda pops up anywhere the first thing that comes to one’s mind is the genocide, insecurities, tribalism, etc. However, that’s not the case the country is very safe for any tourist activity; in fact, the country is categorically listed as one of the safest countries in Africa. The small National has healed from its past and for the past couple of years has rebuilt the ruins to become one of the top tourist destinations in Africa.
Tourists who visit Rwanda are not only treated to a wide variety of game safaris but they are treated to a homely reception and a luxury filled time that leaves one yearning to return to the city of a thousand hills. Some tourists travel on their own and others travel with tour operators, either way, they are assured of a great time while in the country.
It’s important to note that just like any other country Rwanda has travel rules and regulations that one should follow as they are in the country, some are similar to the regulations of other countries and others are unique to Rwanda as a nation.
So to better prepare you for your safari in Rwanda here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan to travel to Rwanda:
Tip 1: Rwanda is a clean country and it maintains policies that will keep its communities and cities clean at all times. This is one of the top 10 Rwanda Travel tips since its evident once you enter the Country. The Rwandan government in 2008 banned the use of non-biodegradable polyethylene plastic bags and at all the country’s entry points there are visible signs that forbid you from entering the country with plastic bags; more so at all these entry points you can be subjected to a luggage search and when found with a plastic bag, you pay a fine of USD 61, if you refuse to pay the fine you may earn yourself a night in jail. So as you plan to enter Rwanda please don’t carry any plastic bags with you.
Tip 2: Safety Tip is one of the 10 Rwanda Travel Tips. Rwanda is a safe country, one of the safest countries to visit in Africa whether you are traveling alone or with a tour operator; the country has a very low crime rate compared to other African countries. So as a traveler you are also expected to keep the safety of the country by not engaging in criminal activities whatsoever, the police posts are spread across the country and in case you have a problem, you can easily report to the police station for help. That said in some places like crowded markets, bus parks, etc you may encounter pickpocketers and a few minor crimes but nothing major.
Tip 4: The dressing in Rwanda is liberal there is no strict code on what to wear or not, however, all travelers are advised to dress modestly in respect of the culture of the locals in the country.
Tip 5: The hospital infrastructure in Rwanda is growing and currently offers basic services to most conditions especially to tropically related medical conditions which mean in some instances the facilities may not handle complicated medical conditions and if they are not tropical it even becomes harder. For that reason, the Rwanda law requires any person traveling to the country to have travel insurance so that in case of a medical condition that cannot be handled by the country’s facilities your able to access sufficient medical care even air evacuation if the need arises. If you enter the country without travel insurance, the country gives you 30 days to work on getting the insurance, if you fail to do so; the authorities may not necessarily hold you for it but if anything happens to you, the authorities are not in position to legally help you; so it’s for your good that you get this insurance.
Tip 5: Rwanda’s transport system is well set up to facilitate your movements within the country and the country has a good bus network to get you different cities and towns of the country. You can also opt to have private transport by hiring a car from one of the car rentals or you can use a licensed taxi, these taxis are available at the airport – they can be identified from the white color, orange strip, and a roof sign or if you are using a tour operator the company will provide you with a car to get around. The road infrastructure is well constructed with labeled streets and several landmarks to help you get around to your desired location. If you opt to use a bus to get around the city make sure you purchase a bus ticket from the bus company counter for you to be able to use the bus services; however you should know for long distances buses are not the most comfortable. You should also know that private transport is a bit pricier than public transport.
Tip 6: The country’s border entry points: Rwanda has 3 border points that you can use to access the country if you are not using the airport, the commonest being the Rwanda- Uganda Border, but this border has been affected by political issues between the two countries and currently it’s operating under restrictions enforced by the authorities of either country. The Rwanda government closed the border earlier this year before it was reopened in August. While this border is open and operational it’s advisable to check with the different governments before you embark on a journey to use this border to enter Rwanda. Other alternative borders to Rwanda are Rwanda – Burundi and Rwanda –DRC borders; Burundi, as a nation is facing quite a number of political conflicts and the relations between Rwanda and Burundi, are strained; so the use of this border is not reliable. The Rwanda –DRC border though operational, has a huge security risk because of the DRC’s political instabilities and the Ebola outbreak in DRC; also the border can close at any time without prior communication, so you shouldn’t rely on it. That said the most reliable Rwanda border is Uganda – Rwanda and for as long as the two governments can agree on the different terms of operations, the border is the best entry point to Rwanda after the airport.
Tip 7: When visiting it’s important to keep these laws at the back of your mind, make sure you are not breaking any of them. Caution: these are some of the most important 10 Rwanda Travel Tips.
- Divisive talk about the Rwandan people and genocide earns is highly forbidden and talks like this or any activity like this earns you jail time, financial penalties and a ban from entering the country ever again.
- Drug possession- it’s illegal to use and have drugs in Rwanda and if caught you get jail time and hefty fines plus a ban from this beautiful country.
- Photography and Videography of military buildings and property is highly forbidden if caught in the act you go to jail.
- Drinking and driving, use of cell phones while driving; this earns you some days in jail and fines.
Though there are many laws to put into consideration these laws are the ones that are most broken by travelers, so keep them in check during your stay in Rwanda.
Tip 8: Rwanda is a liberal country so LGBTQ communities are able to live in the country however because of its African roots in some local communities LGBTQ persons are not fully accepted. The capital Kigali has a few LGBTQ spots that are cozy and friendly plus the Rwanda government is doing its best to protect these minority communities. Though for a traveler’s benefit we advise that if they are an LGBTQ traveler they remain discrete. This is one of the important 10 Rwanda Travel Tips.
Tip 9: Vaccination is yet another of the 10 Rwanda Travel Tips. All travelers to Rwanda must have a yellow fever vaccination; without a certificate of vaccination, you may not be granted entry in the country. In some instances, there are vaccination points at the point of entry but they cost an arm and a leg, so they it’s for your own sake that you’re vaccinated before you plan your trip to Rwanda.
Tip 10: Malaria is prevalent in Rwanda so as you plan to enter Rwanda, it would be wise for your own health to have preventive treatment for malaria or carry mosquito repellents or any form of protection against mosquito bites so that you don’t get malaria.
Overall, like any other country, there are rules and regulations that help the country’s communities to stay in harmony and peace as a traveler, it’s a good and wise thing for you to keep them. Therefore follow the above 10 Rwanda travel tips and have a happy stay in the country.