Rwanda Travel Guide: Land of 1000 Hills

Visit Rwanda; a clean green safari destination with amazing wildlife and cultural heritage







Rwanda Travel Guide

The Republic of Rwanda is a small landlocked country in East Africa, often referred to as the "Land of a Thousand Hills" and is known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. The country is perhaps best known for its gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. However, with 4 national parks and cultural heritage, there is much more to Rwanda than just gorillas, and it's a wonderful green destination that should be on every traveler's bucket list.

Apart from gorilla trekking in Rwanda, another popular activity is going on safari in Akagera National Park, a beautiful wildlife reserve located in the northeastern part of the country. Here, visitors can see a variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, and hippos, as well as a wide variety of bird species. The park also offers boat safaris and guided walks.

Rwanda is also known for its cultural heritage, and there are many traditional villages and markets that visitors can explore. The most famous is the Gikondo Cultural Village, located in Kigali, Rwanda's capital city. This is a great place to learn about the traditional way of life in Rwanda and to see traditional dance and music performances. For those interested in history, the Kigali Genocide Memorial is a must-see. Looking for a more relaxing experience? Rwanda offers some beautiful lakes and waterfalls. Lake Kivu is a great place for swimming, and the Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to several beautiful waterfalls, and chimpanzees!

Table of contents in this Rwanda Travel Guide:

Interesting Facts Rwanda

  Flag of Rwanda

rwanda country flag

  Rwanda's National Animal

Golden Monkey

  Rwandan Dish
Ishyoka or Ishirika made from banana plantains

  Currency in Rwanda

Rwandan Franc (RWF) or Dollars

  Rwanda Time Zone
Central African Time zone or CAT (GMT+2 hours)

Best time to visit Rwanda

What is the best time to visit Rwanda? The best time of the year to visit Rwanda depends on your travel plans and interests. The country has two main seasons: the rainy season, which runs from March to May and from September to November, and the dry season, which runs from June to August and from December to February.

  • The dry season (June to August, December to February) is the best time to visit if you want to see wildlife and do gorilla trekking. The dry season is considered the peak season for tourism in Rwanda, and it's the best time to see gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates, as the vegetation is less dense, making it easier to spot them. The weather is also cooler and more pleasant during this time.
  • The rainy season (March to May, September to November) is the best time to visit if you want to see the beautiful landscapes and explore the country's culture and history. The rains bring lush green landscapes and beautiful wildflowers to the country. The weather is also warmer and more humid during this time.
  • The gorilla trekking can be done all year round, however, it's best to avoid the rainy season as the trails can be muddy and slippery, making it harder to navigate.

If you're looking to see gorillas and other primates, the dry season is the best time to go. It's also the best time if you want to go on safari in Rwanda to spot the Big Five. Note that the dry season is the peak season for tourism in Rwanda. It's recommended to book accommodations and gorilla trekking permits in advance, as they can fill up quickly during peak season. Also, the months of July, August, and December tend to be the busiest months. With the Christmas and New Year's holiday time, December is particularly busy.

If you're interested in seeing the country's beautiful landscapes and exploring its culture and history, the wet season is the best time to visit Rwanda. 

Things to know before you travel to Rwanda

Safety in Rwanda

Rwanda is considered a safe country for travelers and is known for its friendly and welcoming people. The country has made significant efforts to improve safety and security since the 1994 genocide, and crime rates are low compared to other countries in the region. However, as with any destination, it's important to take standard safety precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and avoiding walking alone at night. It's also important to be aware of the local customs and laws and to respect them. With the proper precautions and common sense, travelers can enjoy a safe and comfortable trip to Rwanda.

Do I need a visa when traveling to Africa?

Visa requirements for Rwanda

Most travelers visiting Rwanda require a visa to travel to Rwanda and a valid passport. You can obtain a via on arrival at Kigali International Airport or at any Rwanda border post payable in US dollars or other major currencies. Visa on arrival can be paid in cash or by credit card. It's also possible to apply for a Rwanda e-visa online through the Rwanda e-Visa website. This is the only authentic Visa Application Portal for Rwanda. Avoid other (fraudulent) portals where you’ll pay much more for your visa! This allows you to apply for a visa before you travel, and you will receive an electronic visa, which you can print and present at the border. The fee for the Rwanda visa is $50 for a single-entry visa valid for 30 days, and $70 for a multiple entry visa valid for 90 days. Travelers should have a return or onward ticket, and proof of sufficient funds for their stay in Rwanda. It is advisable to check the Rwanda Immigration website for the most up-to-date information on visa requirements and fees, as they may change without notice.

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel Choices for Traveling to Africa

Responsible Travel in Rwanda

Rwanda has been actively promoting responsible tourism practices in recent years in order to sustain its natural and cultural heritage, as well as to improve the livelihoods of local communities. Examples are community-based tourism giving visitors the possibility to stay with local families to experience the local culture and way of life, volunteer opportunities to work on conservation and community development projects that allows visitors to make a positive impact on local communities.

In order to reduce the environmental impact of tourism, Rwanda has been promoting the use of sustainable transportation options, such as electric bikes and bicycles. Visitors can also choose to use public transportation to get around. To boost the local economy and improve livelihoods of local people visitors can choose to eat at locally-owned restaurants, stay in locally-owned accommodations, and buy locally-made products.

The Rwanda Development Board has implemented a strict low impact and ecotourism guidelines for visitors to minimize the negative impact on gorillas, chimpanzees and their habitat. 

Which vaccinations and antimalarials do I need for Africa?

Vaccinations & anti-Malaria tablets for Rwanda

Required vaccinations for Rwanda your individual health and travel plans. However, most travelers to Rwanda require Hepatitis A and routine vaccinations such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine. Sometimes it's also advised to take Typhoid and Rabies. A Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you arrive from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission, and a yellow fever vaccination certificate is needed for entry into Rwanda. Without this, you can't get a visa for Rwanda. Malaria is a moderate-risk in Rwanda, especially in the rural areas. Take preventive measures such as mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and sleep under a mosquito net. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a travel medicine clinic before your trip to Rwanda, to know about the specific vaccinations you need.

What language do they speak in Africa?

Spoken languages in Rwanda

Rwanda is a multilingual country, with several languages spoken by its diverse population. The official languages of Rwanda are Kinyarwanda, French, and English. Kinyarwanda is the most widely spoken language in Rwanda, spoken by the majority of the population. French is also widely spoken in Rwanda, as it was the official language during the colonial period. It is still used in government, education, and media. English became the third official language after Rwanda's government decided to transition from French to English as the medium of instruction in schools and universities. There are also several other languages spoken, including Swahili, which is spoken by a small minority of the population, as well as various local dialects. Rwanda's official language policy encourages the use of Kinyarwanda and aims to promote linguistic and cultural diversity.

Featured Rwanda Safari Tips

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Guide to game drives in Africa featuring 15 things you need to know to make the most out of your safari in Africa to see wildlife and birdlife in their natural habitat.
Nyungwe National Park is a top tourist attraction in Rwanda

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Find the best places to visit in Rwanda incl. ✓Volcanoes NP ✓Lake Kivu ✓Nyungwe NP ✓Akagera National Park ✓Kigali ✓Nyanza ✓Umusambi & more

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Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda with everything you need to know to see mountain gorillas in the wild in Bwindi National Park.

Things to do in Rwanda to cross off your bucket list

Mother and Baby Gorilla on Gorilla safari in Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking Volcanoes National Park

One of the most popular activities in Rwanda is gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. The country is home to over half of the world's population of mountain gorillas, and visitors can go on guided treks to see these incredible primates in their natural habitat. The trekking can be challenging, but the experience of seeing a gorilla up close is truly unforgettable. Volcanoes National Park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is also home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains, which are listed as part of the site.

Chimpanzee Photography Uganda

Nyungwe Forest

For those who are interested in primates, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a great place to visit as it offers a chance to see 13 species of primates in total. The park is also home to a wide variety of plant and bird species, making it a great destination for nature lovers. The chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is similar to gorilla trekking. However, the trek can be shorter and less strenuous than gorilla trekking. It's also important to note that sighting of chimpanzees is not guaranteed, as they are wild animals and move around in the forest. Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest National Park is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Read more about the canopy walk in this park!

Kigali Genocide Memorial Rwanda

Kigali Genocide Memorial

For those interested in history, the Kigali Genocide Memorial is a must-see. The memorial is dedicated to the victims of the 1994 genocide and serves as a powerful reminder of the atrocities that took place in the country. The memorial is located in the capital city of Kigali and is dedicated to the memory of the more than one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu who were killed during the genocide.
Kings Palace Museum Nyanza

King's Palace Nyanza

The Royal Palace of Nyanza, an architectural masterpiece of the 19th century, was the residence of the kings of the Kingdom of Rwanda, it's located in Nyanza, in the southern province of Rwanda. The King's palace is an important example of traditional Rwandan architecture and is a significant cultural and historical site that tells the history of the monarchy and the traditional culture of Rwanda.

Lake kivu a place to relax in Rwanda

Visit Lake Kivu

This is one of Rwanda's most beautiful natural attractions, and visitors can take part in activities such as boat trips, fishing, and hiking.

Rural villagers at Lake Kivu Rwanda

Visit traditional Rwandan villages

Rwanda is known for its traditional culture, and visitors can experience it by visiting a traditional village. Some of the traditional villages like Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village near Musanze. Visitors can learn about the traditional way of life of the local people and see traditional dance performances.

Big Five Safari Akagera National Park Rwanda

Safari in Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda and is known for its savannah landscapes and diverse wildlife. Visitors can take game drives to see lions, leopards, and elephants, as well as boat trips to see hippos and crocodiles.

Featured Rwanda Travel Knowledge

Baby Gorilla Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park

What is a gorilla permit and why do you need it?
Big Five Safari Akagera National Park Rwanda

The Big Five

What are the Big Five animals of Africa and where to find them?
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Gorilla Permit

What is a Gorilla Permit and where to buy it?

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