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Rwanda FAQs

A GUIDE TO AFRICA

ANSWERING YOUR FAQS ABOUT RWANDA

Rwanda is growing in popularity as an African tourist destination. This is mainly due to the popularity of gorilla trekking. However, the country with its undulating green hills is home to some fantastic national parks, a thriving capital city, incredible wildlife and some of East Africa’s best birding spots.

Here are some FAQs about visiting the “Land of a Thousand Hills”.

Is Rwanda safe?

Yes, Rwanda is a safe country to visit. Aside from the petty crime that is experienced in major cities the world over, Rwanda is one of Africa’s safest countries to visit. It is also one of the world’s least corrupt countries.

What is the weather like?

Rwanda is well known for its ‘eternal spring’ – because it straddles the equator, the temperature remains quite constant throughout the year. The high altitude makes for a pleasant tropical highland climate. There are two rainy seasons – the short rains (October to December) and the long rains (March to May). August through September are the hottest months, with December to February being the drier months. However, you should expect rain at any time of the year.

In more detail:

The Drier Months: 

June, July & August

  • In the east – afternoon temperatures are on average around 27°C/81°F.
  • In the mountain parks – it is a lot cooler. Nyungwe has daytime temperatures of approx. 21°C/70°F. Volcanoes National Park has daytime temperatures of approx. 16°C/61°F.

September

  • Early September is dry, but the rains may begin.
  • Temperatures remain the same.
  • The mountain parks receive quite a bit of rain.

The Wet Months:

October, November & December (Short Rains)

  • Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Park are very wet throughout the rainy season.
  • Daytime temperatures in Nyungwe are approx.  20°C/68°F
  • Volcanoes National Park it drops to 16°C/61°F.

January & February 

  • There is usually a dried spell between the short and long rains.
  • Nyugnwe and Volcanoes National Park will still be very wet and may have rain at any time.

March, April & May (Long rains)

  • The wettest months.
  • It tends to rain most days.
  • In Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Park, it can rain for days.

Is Rwanda malaria-free?

No, Rwanda is not malaria-free so you will need to take anti-malaria medication before and during your trip. From October through to May (the rainy season) the risk of malaria is higher. Nyungwe National Park and Volcanoes National Park have a medium risk of malaria because of the high altitude. Akagera National Park and the Lake Kivu area are particularly high-risk malaria areas.

In regards to other vaccinations, none are required (depending on where you are travelling from), unless you have visited another African country with yellow fever risk. In this case, you will need to present your yellow fever vaccination documents on arrival.

NB: You should not go gorilla trekking if you are ill as you can infect the gorillas (they are not immune to our diseases).

What money should I bring?

The local currency is the Rwandan franc (RFr). The economy tends to be cash based but most tourist hotels accept credit cards. Banks have ATMs in all towns and cities, however, not all work with foreign credit cards. Exceptions are the Bank of Kigali, GT Bank and Ecobank – their ATMs work with both Visa and MasterCard.

You should bring euros or US dollars which can easily be exchanged in Kigali. If you are exchanging from US dollars, ensure the date on the notes is newer than 2006 – older bills won’t be accepted. If you bring US dollars, note that you won’t need to change them, as most activities can be paid in US dollars and almost all hotels accept US dollars.

Tipping: Service charges are generally included in the bill, however, due to the growing international presence, tipping is common:

  • Hotels: RFr500 per bag is standard.
  • Restaurants: For decent service 5% to 10%.
  • Guides / Rangers / Porters: Between US$5 and $2o per day.
  • Drivers: US$15 to $25 per person per day.
  • Car parks: It’s a good idea to tip the men who watch (and sometimes clean) your car with around RFr1000.

What language is spoken in Rwanda?

Rwanda has three official languages, namely Kinyarwanda, English and French. Swahili is also spoken in the rural areas.

What is the local cuisine like?

Rwandan food is simply prepared with local ingredients packed full of flavour. The food in the rural areas is very similar to that in other East African countries. Most meals are centred on ugali (maize meal) and matoke (cooked plantains). The cuisine is widely vegetarian with staples of beans, sweet potatoes, corn, millet, cassava, millet and fruit. Popular meats include chicken, beef brochettes, goat and tilapia (Nile perch). In the bigger cities, such as Kigali, the cuisine has more international influence.

Some of our favourite photos of Rwanda…

Looking for more information on Rwanda?

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