Rwanda Travel Guide
From visa to health information, language, currency and more – discover all the essential details from experts in our Rwanda travel guide.
Best known for its wealth of primates, Rwanda is home to the endangered mountain gorillas and some wonderful hiking spots. There are also beautiful lakes, dense jungles, rich birdlife and remote island communities for you to discover in Rwanda.
Rwanda is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination but before you set out, it is always a good idea to learn more about the country and relevant information on visas, health and safety. To help you better navigate the country, our experts have put together all the details in our Rwanda travel guide.
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Visa and entry
Citizens of all countries can get a visa upon arrival without prior application at a fee of USD$ 30 per person. Please ensure you have USD notes printed in 2013 or later. Depending on the traffic and number of guests arriving at any given moment, the immigration process can take 1 hour or more.
Visitors to East Africa arriving from any country with risk of yellow fever are required to carry proof of yellow fever vaccination. There is risk of malaria throughout the year so we advise that carry a good mosquito repellent and wear clothes that cover most parts of your body, especially if you are traveling during the rainy months.
Visitors to Rwanda and Uganda who are going gorilla trekking should be aware that gorillas are susceptible to most human diseases. If you are suffering from a contagious disease (especially the flu), you must inform your guide and not join the trek for the safety of these endangered gorillas. A standard trek is a strenuous and can last between one to four hours each way (two to three hours is usual in each direction). Please note that children below 15 years of age are not permitted to go gorilla trekking.
Language and religion
The official languages in Rwanda are Kinyarwanda, French and English. Kinyarwanda is a Bantu language and is spoken widely. Kirundi – spoken in the neighboring country Burundi – and Kinyarwanda, are similar languages and have formed a wider dialect continuum called Rwanda–Rundi. Other languages like Swahili are also spoken in Rwanda. The use of English is most common in larger cities and in popular tourist destinations only. The further you travel into the interiors, the lesser the chances of finding locals who can converse in English.
The majority of Rwandans (about 65%) are Roman Catholic and another 9% are Protestant. Only about 1% of the population is Muslim. About a fourth of Rwandans adhere to indigenous beliefs. Many Rwandans practice both their traditional religion and Christianity at the same time.
Currency and cards
In Rwanda, US dollars are the most accepted currency in larger cities although smaller shops will only accept local currency. If you are carrying dollar bills, do make sure that they were printed in 2013 or later or you may be refused service. International credit cards, mainly Visa and Mastercard, are accepted at most establishments. Amex cards however, are not accepted in most areas.
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Kibuye is an idyllic lakeside town on the shores of Lake Kivu, one of the world's largest inland bodies of water, home to a wide variety of birds and plants.
Lake Kivu – Kibuye
Lake Kivu is the largest of fresh water lakes that simmers in the valleys of Rwanda with irregular shores that form numerous inlets and myriad forest-fringed waterfalls.
Lake Kivu – Gisenyi
Nyungwe Forest National Park is an enormous high-altitude, mountainous tropical rainforest with a canopy that extends across the majestic hills of southeast Rwanda.
As Rwanda’s capital and its geographical heart, Kigali is an important business center and port.
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