Visas are required by all nationalities and need to be obtained in advance. You must apply for this visa online at https://www.migration.gov.rw/
You’ll need to apply for an Entry Visa on their website (Services tab, Visa) which should take approx 2-5 days to come through. You must print this Entry Facility out to present at the border. Nationals of Australia, Israel, New Zealand, USA, Germany, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Sweden and Singapore are not required to pre-register, however must pay the visa fee upon arrival at the border post.
The visa costs approx US$60 payable on the border, except for national from Australia, Israel, New Zealand, USA, Germany, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Sweden and Singapore for whom the visa fee is US$30. If you are asked to provide an address in Rwanda on your visa form, please use the address below:
Centre Pastoral Notre Dame De Fatima
Avenue de la Nutrition
Supporting Documents may also be required – the embassy will contact you if they require these.
Note: Rwanda is constantly updating its visa information; therefore, we recommended that you check the website carefully for the latest up to date information www.migration.gov.rw
Don’t be put off by the November shorter rains and March-May longer rains as you will have the forests, lakes and mountains to yourself. And occasionally cheaper gorilla permits, too. Most visitors come to Rwanda to see gorillas, and so the best time is often whenever you can get a highly in demand permit. Keen photographers may even prefer the rainy season, as there is less light contrast coming through the trees, allowing you to focus solely on your subject matter.
Tipping isn’t expected of you in Rwanda. It’s up to the individual whether to tip or not. Rounding up a bill for good service at restaurants is a good idea.
Internet access has recently improved in Rwanda. Travelers will be able to access the internet in large cities like Kigali but expect limited to no access in regional and rural areas.
Mobile phone coverage is quite good in Rwanda’s larger towns, but less so in rural and mountainous areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone.
Squat/pit toilets are the standard in Rwanda, except for western-style, flushable toilets that are sometimes available in large hotels and other modern buildings. Carry your own supply of soap and toilet paper as they are rarely provided.
Street snack = 300 RWF
Beer at a bar or cafe = 1,000 RWF
Meal at a mid-range restaurant = 7,500 RWF
Drinking tap water isn’t recommended in Rwanda. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It’s also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards are usually accepted by large hotels and western-style restaurants but not by smaller vendors. Ensure you have adequate cash to cover purchases not able to be made on credit.
International ATMs are not so common in Rwanda. They can be found in Kigali and other larger towns but may not accept foreign cards. Be sure to have other modes of payment before entering Rwanda, as relying solely on ATM usage isn’t wise. American dollars or euros can be exchanged easily at the airport, local forex bureaus and at banking institutions in Rwanda’s large cities.
Absolutely. All passengers traveling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
What Public Holidays are celebrated in Rwanda?
- 1 Jan New Year’s Day
- 2 Jan New Year Holiday
- 3 Jan New Year Holiday
- 1 Feb National Heroes’ Day
- 7 Apr Tutsi Genocide Memorial Day
- 14 Apr Good Friday
- 1 May Labour Day
- 25 Jun Eid al-Fitr / End of Ramadan
- 26 Jun Eid al-Fitr / End of Ramadan
- 1 Jul Independence Day
- 4 Jul Liberation Day
- 4 Aug Umuganura / Harvest Thanksgiving
- 15 Aug Assumption Day
- 1 Sep Eid al-Adha / Feast of Sacrifice
- 25 Dec Christmas Day
- 26 Dec Boxing Day
Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Rwanda go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/rwanda/public-holidays
One must be able and willing to hike in rough terrain and in any weather to see Mountain Gorillas in the wild. However, many older people who don’t think of themselves as hikers or adventurers can successfully visit the gorillas. Personal assistants can be hired to carry your day-pack and assist you in difficult areas. The local guides will work to make it as easy as possible for one to track and photograph the Mountain Gorillas. We have had numerous clients in their 70’s succeeds in reaching their target Mountain Gorilla groups. But many people return very exhausted, muddy and sore if they are not fit enough to go hiking. Altitude sickness is not usually a problem, nor are insects. You will want a pair of gloves and clothing that protects your arms and legs from thorns and nettles. Good balance is helpful in Gorilla trekking as trails may be slippery. And we advise you to hit the gym for a week or two before you embark on this journey.
A Mountain Gorilla viewing permit allows you to spend one hour with a habituated group of Mountain Gorillas. Sometimes your guide may allow you a few more minutes, especially if you have had a long trek to reach them and the tourist group is not disturbing to the gorillas. But that one hour is always worth because the experience is incomparable.
All wild animals are best considered potentially dangerous and treated as such, but habituated Mountain Gorillas are not aggressive or prone to be angered by tourists because they have been taught to be in the presence of humans. Many people are surprised that the Mountain Gorillas seem to ignore the tourists in their midst completely but there’re a couple of rules that ought to be followed. One should not get between a mother and a baby or tease animals, use a flash, make distracting noises or move quickly.
There are more Chimpanzees than Mountain Gorillas left in the wild and they survive over a much broader range. The parks authorities of Uganda and Rwanda also monitor Chimpanzee populations and the groups which have been habituated for tourist visitors also require advance purchased permits to visit. Two main sites for viewing chimpanzees in Uganda are Kibale Forest and Kyambura Gorge. You will hike in groups of 6-12 visitors accompanied by a park guide. Close encounters with Chimpanzees seem to be less predictable than with Mountain Gorillas, though less hiking may be involved. In the experience of Journeys International groups, visits to the Chimps of Kibale Forest have been more successful than visits to Kyambura Gorge.
Mountain Gorilla trekking is done in Uganda, Rwanda & Congo is a year-round activity. The best time to go on a gorilla trekking adventure is during the short dry season from mid-December to early February or over the long dry season months of June to September. These periods offer by far the easiest hiking conditions and the lowest malaria risk.
Mountain gorillas like humans, live in groups of families and the groups must be tamed or habituated for tourism. The number of available habituated Mountain Gorilla groups for tourist tracking safaris varies through the year depending on the location of the Mountain Gorilla Family groups. Gorilla groups often travel into the Congo or beyond the range of a day trek to visit them. Sometimes Mountain Gorilla family groups travel rapidly, break up and reform, or show behaviors that make them less attractive to visit. Other habituated mountain Gorilla groups are dedicated to research and not open to tourist tracking.
A tourist must purchase gorilla viewing permits in advance. Current cost of gorilla viewing permits in Rwanda is $1500 and in Uganda is $600 per person for a one hour visit in a group of eight visitors.
This does not include the transportation from the registration and orientation site to the hiking departure point or trail head. This point may be up to 25 miles away. Your travel agency takes care of this. You may also want to tip your tour guide to keep them motivated.
We recommend you also hire a porter at an additional cost of $15 per trek, as they will help carry your day pack, carry you or assist you trekking when necessary. That’s how the local community makes a little income from the park.
Yamral Africa is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It’s important to remember that what may be acceptable behavior, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while traveling.
Responsible travel tips for Rwanda
- Be considerate of Rwanda’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
- Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
- Ask permission, remove your shoes and cover your shoulders with a jacket or wrap before entering a place of worship.
- For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
- Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
- Learn some local language and don’t be afraid to use it – simple greetings will help break the ice.
- Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
- Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
- Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
- When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
- Be respectful of Rwanda’s recent history. It’s best to avoid discussing politics, ethnicity or genocide.
- When visiting the mountain gorillas or trekking in national parks, always follow the instructions of your guide and/or leader.
- Purchase your permits as far in advance as possible for priority assignment to a choice group and to be sure you obtain a permit at all.
- You will be with a group and guide. Also, consider hiring a local person as a porter assistant, even if you are very fit. This adds a great cultural dimension to the experience and is not really expensive.
- If you have the choice, visit the largest group available to you to maximize the photo opportunities and the different behaviors you will see.
- Prepare for the possibility of rain at any time of year.
- Wear long sleeves and slacks and bring glove to protect against thistles nettles and thorns.
- Wear durable hiking shoes, you will be off trail in rough terrain.
- Expect you might have a long hike. Be in the best physical shape you can be.
- Understand your camera well, Cameras with built-in video are very good. Telephoto ability helps.
- Consider traveling with a companion or friend with whom you will share the lifelong memory of the encounter.
- Listen to the advice of your guide. Trust that he or she really wants you to get great photos and have the best possible experience.