The beauty of Rwanda is personified by its endless mountains which gave it the moniker Le Pays des Mille Collines (Land of a Thousand Hills). This East African landlocked country, just 26,338 Km2 (10,169 sq mi) wide, is bounded to the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, to the south by Burundi, and to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) and Lake Kivu.

Kigali is the capital city, and the largest, which lies alongside the Ruganwa River, and spans several ridges and valleys in the heart of the country.

In the northwest, the Virunga Mountains poise intimidate anyone who dares approach. But its beauty beckons. Deep within its indigenous bamboo forests are some of the last remaining mountain gorillas. The awe in meeting these primates is overbearing. In the opposite direction, more primates await. The Nyungwe Forest National Park is a mountain rainforest that is home to many species of chimpanzees as well as owl-faced and colobus monkeys. To the west, the volcanoes give way to the inland beaches of Lake Kivu.


Rwanda has three official languages: Rwanda (more properly, Kinyarwanda), English, and French. Swahili is also spoken in the main towns.

Rwanda’s climate is much cooler due to its general elevation, averaging 21 °C year-round. The temperatures drop further down as you climb ascend towards the Northwest region. This is where Mountain gorillas are located deep in the Virunga Mountains. Layer up while you are on that expedition. It also tends to be wetter than the rest of the country experiencing two heavy rainfall seasons; February to May and October to December.

The interior highlands are easy, enjoying a relatively warmer climate. The capital city falls in this region, where you will do most of the shopping.


As you travel in East Africa, exercise the same caution and awareness that you would in a large city back home.

o Don't walk alone in apparently deserted areas, especially in and around the cities.

o It is preferable and usually more enjoyable to walk with a company or in groups.

o Pickpockets may create a sudden distraction. In any sort of puzzling street situation, keep one hand on your money belt.

If an encounter with a local turns out to be long, complicated and involving money or your valuables, be very careful. Con artists sometimes target travellers.

Carry a one-day supply of cash in your pocket. Carry most of your money, and your passport, in a travel pouch or money belt under your shirt. Replenish your pocket supply when you are in a safe and quiet place, or in our vehicle.

Make photocopies of the first few pages of your passport, air ticket and other important travel documents. Keep these separate from the originals.

Most hotels provide a safety box in the rooms. Lock all your valuables and money there. If a room is missing a safety box, enquire at the reception.

Ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage before leaving home.

Your passport must be valid 6 months after your anticipated travel. You must have a blank page for each country you will visit. Most visitors require visas (with very few exceptions for citizens of certain Commonwealth Countries). It is advisable to obtain visas in advance at the embassies as several airlines insist on them prior to departure. There is an option for procuring these online via the portal: in advance and from the comfort of your home!

VISAS can also be obtained on arrival at all entry points.

The regulations vary depending on nationality and country of origin, and requirements may change. You are advised to contact the appropriate Rwandan diplomatic/consular authority or the government portal:

As Rwanda enjoys a healthy, invigorating climate, visitors need not feel a concern for their general health during their stay. However, malaria is endemic in certain areas and anti-malarial medication should be taken according to prescription recommendations. Ebola is also recurrent in this region, so exercise caution while eating out. Visitors requiring special medication should pack sufficient supplies in their hand luggage. Chemist shops are well stocked, but the medication may not be always readily available.

During the safari, all your meals will be taken in the hotels, lodges & Camps.

Generally, in Kigali, only breakfast is included with lunch and dinner billed separately.

The food is of an excellent quality and you may eat all the types of fruits and vegetables without worry.

The meal timings are usually as follows:

o Full breakfast is served from 07:00 hrs to 09:30 Hrs

o Buffet lunch is served from about 12:30 Hrs

o Tea and coffee is served from 16:00 hrs to 17:00 Hrs

o Dinner is served from 19:30hrs to 21:30 Hrs

Most of the hotels have both local and imported alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments available (beers, wines, liquors, liqueurs, and fruit juices).

Drinks are not included (unless otherwise stated).

If you require a special diet or are vegetarian, please make sure you communicate this at the hotel’s reception upon arrival.

Mobile Infrastructure: The mobile network coverage in Rwanda is extensive, almost all the ‘usual’ safari circuit areas including National Parks and remote towns are covered.

Find out if your Mobile Service Provider has a roaming service in Rwanda.

Wi-Fi Infrastructure: Most, if not all, major hotels have wireless internet connectivity.

All tipping on your trip is optional, and the amount given is at your discretion.

If you would like some suggestions, follow these guidelines:

o Many travellers budget between 2% and 3% of their trip cost for all tips

o If travelling in a group, every group member does not have to give the same amount.  If travelling in a group, every group member does not have to give the same amount.

At the end of the safari, a volunteer group member can 'pass the hat' and present a collective tip to your drivers/guides. Many travellers give between $5 to $ 10 per safari day. You can also tip the drivers individually.

o US$/Euro/Pound Sterling currency is preferred for tipping safari staff.

o A tip of 1 to 2 units is appropriate for airport and hotel porters as well as housekeeping staff.

o If a restaurant menu shows there is a 10% service charge included in the bill, you do not need to tip.

Otherwise, a tip of between 5 and 10 % of the total bill is considered usual and customary.

We strongly recommend that you take up a travel insurance cover to insure you in case of a medical emergency, loss of items or flight delays or even trip cancellations. There are limitations and exclusions, make sure you understand the cover, especially the small print.

The supply of electricity in Rwanda is at 230 volts AC, 50Hz, using a two-pin plug and socket. You are advised to bring several plug adapters with extra outlets. In some places, electricity may be supplied by a generator, therefore, the lighting may not be as bright as you are used to. Also, electricity supply cannot be guaranteed during overnight stays. Travellers dependent on an electrical supply (as in the case of those with sleep apnea) should let us know in advance.

In general, avoid drinking tap water. Bottled mineral water is available for purchase throughout.

While on safari, you will get purified mineral water in the rooms.

We also provide a litre of bottled water (two 500 ml bottles) on a complimentary basis per safari day.

Throughout the year, the Standard Time in Rwanda is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2), an hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time in the U.S.

There are a few Dos that you need to keep in mind while travelling. Once you arrive at the hotel, you are required to register at the reception to get the room key. Check-in is generally from 11.00 am while check out is at 10.00 am latest. If you book a room for day-use only, you will be required to check out at 6.00 pm. Upon checkout, you are required to return the key to the reception. Settle the bill at the reception on your checkout, or preferably the night before to avoid the long queues in the morning. Once you check out, request for a luggage ticket, which is required to leave the hotel.

Leave any luggage that you will not use during the safari at your hotel in Kigali. Request them to store the luggage for you to be picked on your return.

Note that international airlines allow a luggage allowance of 20 – 30 Kgs while domestic carriers allow 15 Kgs.

On your departure day, it is advisable to place your luggage at the door as you go for breakfast to cue the porters to take them to the reception.

While contributions may seem charitable, but it can be disruptive and intrusive especially when a portion of people get while the others are left empty-handed, and other times might put you in mob danger. Therefore, we strongly discourage any distribution of money, pens, candy, and left-over food to children or adults you encounter along the way.

If beggars approach you, make eye contact, smile politely and keep moving. If you give anything to one beggar, you will open the harassment floodgates to the whole group.

During your community visits, it is advisable to contribute towards community development as opposed to benefitting a few individuals. For example, instead of giving stationery to a few students, bring a large package of pens or pencils which will be distributed by our ground staff equally.

Be mindful of the effects of your actions. The intention may be good, but the effect may be negative. For example, candy may cause tooth decay yet remote villages have few, and expensive, dentists. Also, giving out sweets and other gifts encourages children to run to every foreigner in the hood, leaving their school or house chores undone. It may also leave a bad impression of their parents who may not afford the same gifts.

Memories fade, but relics will always stand the sands of time. So, leave some space for memories (if you have a photographic memory), photographs and SOUVENIRS. In many hotels, lodges and camps throughout the country, you will find well-stocked gift shops. But if your hotel’s gift shop is not sufficient, try the following:

- Abraham Konga Collections: Abraham is a talented jewellery maker working mainly with recycled metals and bone. His store also stocks items from a variety of artisans.

- Abraham Konga Collections: Abraham is a talented jewellery maker working mainly with recycled metals and bone. His store also stocks items from a variety of artisans.

- Azizi Life Boutique: The items you’ll find here are more creative and interesting than what you’ll get at the average tourist shop around town and it’s definitely worth a stop.

- La Copabu in Huye in Butare: Large handicraft shop selling woodcarvings, jewellery and baskets, and other souvenir-worthy items.

- Caplaki: This is Kigali’s largest souvenir-specific market.

- African Art Gallery in Gisenyi in Rubavu: This small curio store has a varied and colourful collection of handicrafts from the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda, including lots of Congolese masks and other wooden items as well as necklaces, paintings and basketware.

Gatagara Pottery: Much of the pottery you see on sale around Kigali comes from Gatagara Pottery. The pottery has a distinctive chunky style and is often painted in beautiful blues, greys, and browns.

- Haute Baso: Besides selling bespoke clothing, they have a few home decor items and accessories like scarves and bags.

- Ibaba Rwanda: They embroider things like baskets, linens, clothes, hats, and purses.

- Inema Arts Center: It makes a great stop both for paintings and for jewellery, ties, pottery, and other crafts.

- Inzuki Designs: This is the best place in Kigali to come for chunky, colourful, bold jewellery.

- Kimironko Market: For a good bargain on the usual souvenirs, this is the place to be.

Nyamirambo Women’s Center: This small shop is known for making some unique items with kitenge fabric. They produce some pretty cool children’s items like dresses and pants in small sizes, kid’s hats, baby blankets, and even cute fabric balls to kick around.

- Rwanda Clothing Company: If you’re after a custom fitted reminder of your time in Rwanda then swing by Rwanda Clothing Company and take a look at their fashion line. They’ve got a great range of clothes for both women and men and find creative ways to incorporate Rwandan fabrics in a modern way. You can choose a style off of the rack and have them create one in your size or you can take a look through their book and see if anything in there is more your style. This place is about loud, bold, colourful fabric so if you want clothes that really make a statement, this is your place. They also sell jewellery, bags, ties, and other accessories.

Tubahumurize Association: It is most famous for their custom-made quilts, but they have everything from circle scarves and yoga bags to children’s toys and kitchen swag.

- Umutako: They have a good selection of vases, pots, paintings, candle holders, and fabrics as well as the less traditional Imigongo paintings.

- Government offices operate from 7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m, Monday through Friday with a one-hour lunch break.

- The Private Sector operates from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m, Monday through Friday with a one-hour lunch break.

- Most private sector organisations work half days on Saturday.

- All shops are open from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Many of them close early on Saturday and remain closed on Sunday.

- Supermarkets and shopping malls are however open 7 days a week.

The stunning landscape of Rwanda is a photographers’ delight. From the mountainous vistas of the lush mountain rainforest of Nyungwe to the inland beaches of Lake Kivu and plenty of primates to go along with them to the culture-centric people and the historic sites; rich colour and good lighting conditions abound.

Note that it is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking for their permission.

Please note that it is prohibited to take photos of:

- The President and/ or his entourage

- The police or uniformed personnel

- Military installations, ministers, official and military buildings, airports, and border posts

- The national flag, the tomb of Jomo Kenyatta and official residences


- It is recommended that you bring a power bank with sufficient storage and memory cards as they may not always be readily available on the ground.

- Keep your cameras in a dust-resistant padded case, away from direct sun.

- A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari.

- An ultra-violet filter and a lens cap are strongly recommended.


The currency unit is the Rwandan Franc (RWF).

For current exchange rates, please refer to the Internet or a newspaper.

The importation and/or exportation of both local and foreign currency is unrestricted. The most popular global foreign currencies can be traded at any of the Forex Bureaus (Bureau De Change) establishments in the main towns. But their rates are usually higher than bank rates.

How to carry your money

Cash is more readily exchanged and accepted and commands a better exchange rate in East Africa.

Try for a diversity of denominations. Plan to exchange a decent amount since most purchases are done in Rwandan Franc. Keep all receipts in case you need to query the exchange rate, and as proof of purchase. Note that the gorilla permits are only sold in USD.

Credit Cards

Major credit cards (and debit cards with Visa or Master Card logos) are a superb emergency back-up. Every traveller is encouraged to carry one, even when there are no intentions of using it – it comes in handy during an emergency, for instance, if you are called upon to fly home or alter your general travel arrangements.

Credit cards are accepted in major hotels and upmarket lodges in Rwanda.

How much money to take<>/strong

You should NOT count on being able to withdraw cash with a credit card, a debit card or an ATM card. Whilst this service is becoming increasingly available, it might not be functional/available in some areas. Plan to carry enough money to cover the expected expenses, plus a small reserve. Credit cards should be a financial emergency kit.

By far, the biggest variable in the travel budget is souvenirs. Further expenses would be bits on laundry and drinks.