Rwanda Travel Advice
Best Time to Visit Rwanda
Most visitors visiting Rwanda are there for a gorilla safari, which can be done anytime throughout the year. Peak season for gorilla tracking falls between July – August which means it can be very busy and obtaining a permit may be more difficult so you need to book far in advance. The next best time to visit would be during the short dry season between December – February as the hiking conditions are easier and the malaria risk is at its lowest.
Average year-round temperatures: 12°C to 27°C
Rainy seasons: January to April and October to mid-December
Flights & Getting Around
Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport is situated 10km from Kigali and serves as the connecting airport for Rwanda's point of entry. Airlines connect Kigali with Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Johannesburg and Belgium.
The Volcanoes National Park – the main gorilla trekking area of Rwanda - is situated approximately 80kms from Kigali and you will be transferred there in 4 x 4 vehicles.
Visa & Passport Requirements
A passport valid for at least six months is required by all visitors to Rwanda. Visas are required by everyone except citizens of the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Kenya and South Africa. Visas are valid for three months and can usually be extended in Kigali on a month-by-month payment basis.
All travellers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 6 weeks before departure. It is compulsory to present an International Yellow Fever immunisation card upon arrival.
The following immunizations are also recommended for all travellers: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Meningococcus, Polio, Rabies, Measles, Tetanus-diphtheria. Your local travel clinic or doctor will be able to advise further.
Please note that should you be sick you will not be allowed to partake in the gorilla trek.
Rwanda’s unit of currency is the Rwandan Franc but it is best to carry US Dollars or Euro with you as these currencies are widely accepted. Although there are banks and bureaux exchange establishments in Kigali, there are very few outside the capital, so it is advised that you get any necessary banking done whilst in Kigali. The ATM’s are unfortunately not yet wired to an international network, but cash may be obtained from the main banking centre. Credit cards will be accepted in some upmarket hotels and restaurants in Kigali, but not many other places.
Tipping is not compulsory in most places in Rwanda, but should you be doing a gorilla trek a tip would be greatly appreciated by the trekking staff. The tip will depend on the size of your group and should be divided accordingly: Your Porter receiving the highest tip, and a second tip split between the guides, trackers and security staff. A 10% tip is normally customary in restaurants in town.
What to Pack
For gorilla trekking you will need to pack the following: Good hiking boots (you will be doing a lot of walking), long trousers, long-sleeved tops, long socks to wear over your trousers as protection against insects and plants, a pair of gloves to protect your hands against nettles, a warmer jacket, a hat and an extra pair of clothes if possible as it can get cold and damp on the mountains.
Don’t forget your camera equipment.