Rwanda is a small, land locked country in eastern/central Africa of approximately 26,340 sq km. It has five prominent volcanoes and 23 lakes and several rivers. A large part of the country has an elevation of between 1,500 and 2,500 meters. The highlands in large parts of the country are now dominated by the terraced agriculture that gives the Rwandan countryside its beautiful and pleasant character. Average temperatures are between 24–27deg with the hottest months from Aug–Sept. Official languages; Kinyarwanda, French, English & Kiswahili
Before you make your journey to majestic Rwanda, use the information featured in this section to plan your trip and make the most of your time here, from entry requirements, safety tips, how to get around to weather conditions, currency and accommodations. Your trip planning starts here and we’ve got you covered! Read our updated FAQs to learn more.
Local Currency: Rwanda Franc (RWF). Approximately Rwanda Franc 833 = 1 US Dollar (January 2019)
To enter Rwanda, you have to present your identification documents, like your ID card or passport. And, depending on your country of origin, a stamped visa. The visa documentation / permission MUST BE DONE in advance of your arrival irrespective whether you fly or drive there.
It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months and has several clear pages for visas prior to departure. If you are traveling on a British Passport new regulations require that your passport is valid for 12 months for entry into Rwanda. It is suggested that you check your status as regards visas prior to travel with your agent or Wild Frontiers; they change on a regular basis, and some of these states embassies will INSIST you get one prior to travel, whereas they may be freely available on arrival.
AUSTRALIA, GERMANY, ISRAEL, NEW ZEALAND, SOUTH AFRICA, SWEDEN, UK AND USA are issued with a Rwandan entry visa upon arrival without prior application. The entry visa fee is $30 and is valid for a period of 30 days.
Nationals of SINGAPORE, HONG KONG, MAURITIUS AND PHILIPPINES are exempt from entry/tourism view for a stay up to 90 days.
EAC nationals will be issued with a 6 months’ visitors pass (renewable) at entry points with no fee.
All other nationalities will be required to purchase visas with the cost varying, depending on the nationality, up to USD60 for a single entry. These countries should apply for a visa BEFORE traveling and pay the pre-subscribed fee.
For more information about entering Rwanda, visit www.migration.gov.rw
All visitors / tourists (by road and air) who are not eligible for the free 90-day entry into Rwanda or able to get their visa upon arrival without prior application are required to complete an “entry facility application” on the Rwandan immigration authority’s website (above) under the topic “Public service” click on “entry facility” and on the form, that appears clients fill in the basic details like name, passport number, arrival date and port of arrival – and submit it over the web. It is advisable for clients to process this application as soon as possible to allow plenty of time for the application to be approved. It’s good for clients to print out a copy of their submission in case their copy is not at the visa counter when they arrive.
It is a strong recommendation that you are covered by some type of medical insurance before you grab that flight to come and experience the Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tour. Talk to your travel consultant about this. Should you require further information please do not hesitate to contact us. Minimum cover should be $50 000 for medical and related expenses.
Yellow Fever inoculation is required should you travel between East African countries, and should you be flying into SA after visiting East Africa. This must be done no later than 10 days prior to your departure. If you have a history of liver disorders (hepatitis etc.) you must consult your physician first.
Typhoid may be requested from the authorities when crossing into Rwanda, although it is unusual for it to be requested. This can be done by your local GP or through a travel clinic. There is also the tablet form available – only available from certain pharmacies.
Tetanus is also recommended, as is Cholera, but are not compulsory.
Hepatitis inoculation is at the discretion of the traveler.
Malaria prophylactics are a must and can be purchased from your local pharmacy. Please consult your pharmacist/doctor. It is also a good idea to bring some insect repellent with you to spray on yourself in the evenings and early morning when mosquitoes tend to be about.
Diarrhea /Giardia etc. Good personal hygiene and control over the quality of your drinking water should avoid this, bottled water is readily available throughout the country, but take along some medicine in case, particularly if you are planning to spend some time traveling alone and not with a tour. We recommend that guests either buy bottled water, or take along water purification tablets and look after your own drinking water.
As with all medical requirements, your doctor or travel clinic will provide the most up to date information; the above is a guide only.
Mountain gorillas and Chimpanzees are highly susceptible to human diseases including flu and colds. If you are participating in a gorilla / chimp trek then you need to be free of any visibly contagious diseases and this is checked at the start of the trek by the Park Authorities. If they are in any doubt of your condition, they reserve the right to prevent you from continuing on the trek. Our advice is that if you feel you are worried about this aspect, you please inform your safari guide as soon as possible, and he will seek advice as to the best way to manage the situation.
If you are participating on a NGAMBA ISLAND SANCTUARY CHIMPANZEE INTERACTION (NOT the day visits – the actual INTEGRATION WITH THE CHIMPS or CAREGIVER PROGRAMMES where you overnight on the island)
Live updates on weather in Rwanda are available here: Rwanda Weather
Live updates on flights in Kigali International Airport, Rwanda are available here: Kigali Airport Live Data from Airline
LUGGAGE AND IMPACT TRAVEL
Due to space limitations in the vehicles it is imperative that luggage be kept to a minimum. We suggest a barrel or soft bag (15 kg maximum) for your main gear, plus a camera bag or smaller ‘day pack’ for inside the vehicle. Samsonite / hard bags / suitcases, etc. are not suitable as it makes packing very difficult. If you are traveling internationally with one we suggest you repack Churchill Tailored Safaris Tour items into your soft bag, before the safari, and then leave your hand suitcase at your return point e.g. Entebbe Hotel to collect later.
If you are traveling on a light aircraft within Rwanda, then the luggage restriction is dependent on combined client and luggage weights and varies from plane to plane and routing but usually only up to 10kg per person in soft bags and this is strictly adhered to for safety reasons. Please check your personal allowance on confirmation of itinerary and aircraft.
On a trip through Uganda/Rwanda you can experience all four seasons. It will also be necessary to take some wet weather gear as it does rain in the mountainous areas of Uganda and Rwanda on a regular basis. We suggest lightweight rain gear for the hike to view the gorillas.
During your safari, depending on the style of trip chosen, dress code may vary slightly. Women are advised to cover knees and shoulders when in a rural village or market. None of the lodges/hotels insist on any formal type of dress – ties, jackets etc. The norm would be casual or smart casual depending upon the level. In towns and cities, and at certain of the more up-market lodges and hotels then long pants and shirt / golf shirt would be more appropriate (especially in the evenings), or ladies may wear a skirt of course!
Bush gear i.e. hard wearing clothes, no bright colors, e.g. greens, khaki and similar neutral clothes are recommended. In the day time on safari, generally shorts or lightweight trousers, t-shirts, hat, sunblock etc. are recommended as it is generally fairly warm (25-35 degrees C average). Avoid wearing blue colors in areas where you may find tsetse flies, as they are often attracted to these colors, (this would be in small parts of Murchison Falls for example, check with your guide).
We suggest you take something warm e.g. tracksuit, fleece or sweater for the mountainous areas i.e. Bwindi or Virungas. It is at a higher altitude and will therefore be cooler in the evenings. – a rain jacket/anorak is also suggested as it rains, regularly in the in the rain forest areas, even in the drier months. Long trousers and long sleeved shirts are also recommended for general evening use to assist in the prevention of mosquito bites and also as it’s generally cooler than during the day.
While gorilla and chimp tracking, you will need a comfortable, hard wearing, pair of walking shoes or boots. Conditions are generally very muddy/slippery. There are uphill sections which may be quite steep and strenuous. It is also advisable to wear a long sleeve cotton shirt and lightweight long trousers to protect yourself from the undergrowth, stinging nettles and biting ants. (Tracksuit pants often get caught on bushes, thorns, etc. and jeans can get very heavy when wet). Gloves are also highly recommended by Gorilla tracking Uganda– just cheap gardening gloves will do – this will prevent your hands being scratched when holding onto vegetation for support, through dense parts of the forest. Tuck your long pants into your socks/boots to avoid biting insects. Your clothes will in all likelihood get very muddy and may not recover to their original state – therefore take old clothing for the gorilla trekking.
A suggestion from past Churchill Tailored Safaris guests is to mention that if people want to help the poorer Ugandans /Rwandans they could bring old clothes etc. with them to give to appropriate organizations/places.
If you are interested in this option you should advise Churchill Tailored Safaris before travel as we can set up times/days on safari where you can visit an orphanage, or school, assist or give a donation for “something specific”. Or Churchill Tailored Safaris can refer you to various organizations that we work in conjunction with for various community assistance and uplift programmes we can monitor and ensure that the appropriate funds are received by the right people! Handouts of money (except as genuine tips) sweets, pens etc. is to please be avoided. It creates a system of begging and invariably causes fights amongst the children when there is not enough to go around.
Your personal safety and well-being is our prime concern. Please take care of all your personal possessions at all times. DO NOT TEMPT petty theft, pickpockets, etc. with displaying large amounts of money, especially when near markets or in the center of Kampala / Entebbe / Kigali. If you come to Uganda or Rwanda, here are some tips that will help you have a safe and pleasant experience:
ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT
Depending on the class or style of your Churchill Tailored Safaris Tour, your accommodation may range from high end class to medium class. There are many different styles of accommodation in Uganda/Rwanda varying from large hotels to smaller more intimate lodges and tented camps. Please consult your personalized itinerary for full details of each place you will be staying on your safari or check out Accommodation.
Should you stay in the more modest local hotels/guest houses you will have the use of showers and toilets, hot water cannot always be guaranteed. The hotels/guest houses themselves are very basic and generally clean, the staff are friendly and helpful. These hotels/guest houses are mainly utilized by local businessmen as not many tourists pass through these areas. They can be fairly noisy, especially on weekends but the atmosphere is friendly and accepting. Food is generally good, hearty African fare, sometimes there are European/Western items available.
While traveling through Uganda/Rwanda, you will be mostly on tarred roads and they are in reasonably good condition by African standards. There may be some VERY LONG days in the vehicle, but the interesting and diverse scenery generally makes up for it! There are however, some really bad sections of dirt road, especially in the more mountainous areas. In these areas travel will be slower, quite bumpy and there could be a lot of dust experienced en route. There are options for scheduled or charter flights for the longer routes – please enquire for prices and feasibility of this.
The Churchill Tailored Safaris Vehicles you will be traveling in are customized 4×4 vehicles which have been converted for local conditions; they have good leg room and seat between 4-7 persons, depending on the seating configuration, and have opening roof hatches for optimal game viewing. They are a little slower on the road than a saloon vehicle or a smaller ‘family’ 4×4 and do have air conditioning.
Your safari vehicle is generally used throughout the safari for traveling between destinations as well as for game drives and other activities at the lodges and within the National Parks.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
There is no charge for personal filming of gorillas during the Churchill Tailored Safaris Tour and other scenes with personal video cameras, e.g. digital, slr etc. in Uganda or Rwanda.
Professional photographers, film makers or media should advise us at the time of booking as special procedures are required as well as costs to be incurred for photographing and filming.
Most lodges operate on solar power and so have limited facilities for charging batteries and some none at all, so come prepared with extra, just in case and charge up where ever it is possible en route on your safari – do not wait until down to your last battery!
Do not photograph any government buildings, police or military posts. Ask permission before photographing local tribesmen. For gorilla photography, a 35 – 70 mm zoom, or 50 mm fixed is usually sufficient, but you may want to carry a longer lens but remember you may well be in low light conditions. Take fast film if using film (200-400 ASA plus), as you are not allowed to use a flash. Please check your camera beforehand to ensure you know how to turn it off manually.
Game & bird photography obviously longer lens would be recommended 80-300mm ideally.
Do not spend all your time with the gorillas trying for the classic photograph, look around you and observe and enjoy these gentle animals.
Follow the link to the list of all Embassies & Consulates in Rwanda
Follow the link to all National/Public Holidays in Rwanda
NATIONAL PARKS AND TOURIST ATTRACTIONS