Why take the chance of travelling without the assistance of a travel professional. In our experience, there are some common and persistent mistakes that travellers make, that can be avoided by booking with a tour operator. And don't believe evrything you read online (or your friends!) - the price is nearly always better booking with us rather than 'going it alone'.
GMT : +2 hours
Rwanda's relatively high altitude provides it with a remarkably pleasant tropical highland climate, albeit also with plenty of rain. Temperatures vary considerably between locations depending on their altitude, but very little from month to month in the same place. In the capital, Kigali, the average daily temperature is about 21°C. Virunga’s Mountains & Nyngwe Forest high altitude occasionally brings light rain showers even in the dry season. There are lots of water masses (Lakes & Rivers) and therefore high humidity in generally the whole country.
Across most of the country, rainfall is strongly seasonal, although its pattern, timing and extent vary greatly from place to place. There are two rainy seasons, the short rains are in Mid October - November and the long rains start Mid- March to the end of May. Mid June to August and October is the dry season and also referred to as the high season in Rwanda.
Kinyarwanda is the National language, while French and English are official languages. French is widely spoken throughout the country. English is mainly spoken in the capital and tourist centres.
01 February - National Heroe's Day
03 April - Good Friday
07 April - Genocide Memorial Day
01 May - Labour Day
01 July - Independence Day
04 July - Liberation Day
17 July - Eid al-Fitr (end Ramadan)
15 August - Assumption
01 October - Patriotism Day
25 December - Christmas Day
26 December - Boxing Day
ELECTRICITY / VOLTAGE:
Rwandan power supply is - 240 volts / 50 cycles – AC, while most plugs are French Type 2 pin round. Hotels and lodges may supply adaptors at reception for 3-pin equipment. This may require a small deposit. If there are no electric outlets in your room, the reception is happy to charge video camera accumulators for you. Many of the lodges have diesel powered electric generators that give the same supply. The lodges may not run their generators 24hrs a day. If this is the case there is a sign in the reception giving the timings
HEALTH RISKS / IMMUNIZATION:
Rwanda’s height above seas level is relatively high and malaria is not a major concern, but the disease is present and prophylactic drugs are strongly recommended. It’s highly recommended that one visits their doctors at least a month before travel. While in Rwanda, it is advisable not to drink tap water. Bottled mineral water can be bought in all towns. A certificate of yellow-fever vaccination is required.
TravelLers should carry an adequate supply of medicines and first aid accessories with them as supplies are limited in Rwanda. Most chemists in the major towns are open from 0830h to 1900h. Some pharmacies are open till 23h00.
VISAS (for UK passport holders only):
A single entry visa can be obtained upon arrival and costs US$30 per person for a stay of up to 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, for multiple entry visas and for other passport holders different regulations apply. Please refer to www.migration.gov.rw
SAFETY / SECURITY:
Rwanda enjoys the best security in the region, but clients must take the same precautions as they would anywhere else in the world. It is recommended that you make use of Taxis rather than walking around at night. There are safety deposit facility provided by hotels and lodges. Never leave money and / or valuables in the vehicles or rooms unattended, keep them in a safe place.
Don't carry large sums of cash in your purse or pocket, or display expensive jewelry. Make photocopies of the first few pages of your passport, air ticket and other important travel documents. Keep this separate from the originals. Ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage before leaving home.
Although most visitors enjoy their travels in Rwanda without incident visitors are advised to take note of the following points:
Tipping is entirely up to the client and his appreciation of good service. It is definitely not compulsory. However, being in a different country clients expect to have guidelines to work on. We usually recommend that there are three categories of staff members to tip; your Driver Guide, Gorilla/Chimp Guide, Gorilla/Chimp tracker and the Hotel / Lodge staff.
Driver Guides & Gorilla / Chimp Guides - We recommend US$10 per guest per day if the guide has done a good job.
Specialist Guide: Accompanying you all the way, this could increase to US$15 per guest per day.
Gorilla / Chimp tracker - We recommend US$5 per guest per day if the Tracker has done a good job.
Hotel / Lodge Porters –US$ ½(half) per piece of bag.
Waiters – For drinks waiters, normally we recommend 10% of consumption. Meals we recommend US$2.00 per pax per meal or if service exceptional 10%.
Remember this is only a guideline and it entirely depends on the service and the client’s wishes.
Rwanda’s unit of currency is the Rwandese Franc (RWF). One Dollar US is exchanged at about 600 RFr in 2011. The US dollar is the hard currency of preference. It may be impossible to exchange travellers' cheques away from the capital. Credit cards are usually only accepted at the major hotels in Kigali.
There are numerous banks in the capital city as well as numerous bureau de change. Hours of business vary from bank to bank, but most are open from 08h00 to 18h00, Mondays to Fridays, and 08h00 - 12h30 on all Saturdays except the last Saturday of every month when they open 12h30 – 18h00. Hotels and lodges change money outside these hours. Banking services are also available at Kigali International Airport. Only banks, Forex Bureaus, hotels and lodges are authorized dealers as recommended by the company to change money. ATM machines are limited to major city and may fail to dispense cash.
Rwanda’s unit of currency is the Rwandese Franc (RWF): The Rwanda Franc is currently US$1 = RWF600. Notes are in denominations of RWF 500, 1,000, 2000, and 5000, while coins are RWF 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. It is recommended to travel with US dollars as most banks and Forex Bureaus do not accept traveler’s cheques in exchange for cash. The importation and exportation of Rwandan currency, however, is illegal.
Credit cards are usually accepted at a few major hotels in Kigali. (Credit cards are not a common medium of business transactions in Rwanda.) Kenya, Tanzania/Uganda currency is not accepted in Rwanda, but can be exchanged only in local banks and forex bureau. Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign exchange. It is advisable to pay your extra bills and check out the night before you depart from a hotel or lodge to avoid long delays in the morning.
Postal services are fairly well organized in Rwanda and you should have no problem sending or receiving letters. Rwandan postage system is very reliable but fairly slow.
Value Added Tax (V.A.T) is currently at 18% on most items - it is levied and visitors cannot claim a refund on goods purchase.
Rwanda has excellent cell phone coverage. Local SIM cards are readily available in most town centres, and cell phones can be purchased in Kigali. International phone calls can be made easily. Most towns have Internet cafes.
International faxes and phone calls a can be made easily from hotels and lodges, (Note the surcharge at hotels is quite high, but it will cost less in frustration). All major towns have Internet cafes, fax machines and telephone services. Telephone directories will list all the international dialing codes. Both local and long-distance calls are metered on a time basis.
Should there be an urgent message for a client while they are on safari the Agent will pass it through our office and we will in turn transmit the same via cell phones to our Driver Guides.
Rwanda has a good road network, with little traffic while major Town centres are well connected with good road infrastructure. The country offers opportunities for long bicycle trips across the hills and valleys. Mountain biking and hiking can be done on the thousands of kilometres of fine rural trails linking remote villages.
Gorilla Permits are the single most demanded item in Rwanda. Purchase of Gorilla Permits needs to be arranged well in advance through your local tour operator. The Single sales agents for permits is the Office Rwandaise du Tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux (ORTPN) / The Rwanda Tourism Board, at the headquarters in Kigali.
Rwanda is a photographer’s paradise, featuring great scenery and magnificent landscapes. Carry plenty of film you may use more than you have estimated. Films are available in many of the lodge and hotel boutiques. Rich color and good low lighting conditions abound, the African sun provides excellent lighting, but using larger lenses will require faster film, especially in early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer. In this case, 200-400 ASA film is recommended. Film and batteries are usually available along major tourist routes and from lodges, but it is wise to bring your own. A lens hood and ultra violet filter are advisable. A good bag for your equipment including a dust cover is essential.
Important Note: Not all African cultures are familiar with cameras and it is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking them first. Rural folk will often shy away from having their picture taken. Please be very careful and sensitive about photographing the local people. Many of them get very upset about being photographed. If you want to photograph people ask your driver before doing so. Some locals may ask a fee for having their photograph taken DO NOT photograph anything relating to government and military installations, including personnel (soldiers and police) and buildings (post offices, banks, airports, border posts, railway stations and bridges) the National flag and Embassies, it is illegal.
Africa Collection: Office Hours: 09h00 – 17h30, Tel: +44 (0) 1403 256655, Fax: +44 (0) 1403 253325
Primate Safari: Tel: +250 252 503428/9, Cell: +250 788300495 / 784300079
ENJOY YOUR RWANDAN SOJOURN
Please Note: Whilst we have made every effort to ensure the information provided in this document is accurate, Africa Collection is in no way responsible for the information provided. We will endeavour to communicate any amendments to the information in a timely manner.