Rwanda is today most famous for its Parc National de Volcans, the natural habitat of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas. On our safari tours, discover these amazing creatures in their own landscape. Here, you can experience a journey through the beautiful terraced hillside that characterises much of Rwanda's landscape and climbs the base of the awesome Virunga volcanoes, as well as possibly spot some golden monkeys too. Sadly, often known for the genocide in the mid-90s, today Rwanda is one of Africa’s success stories. Focusing on ecology and the environment, the warm, friendly people and stunning scenery of the land of a thousand hills, make it one of the most remarkable countries in the world.
IMPORTANT - As our Rwanda tours also travel into Kenya, please ensure you also check the requirements for entry to Kenya, as they differ to those for Rwanda.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay and have 1 empty page for entry stamps, but 2 pages are recommended. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
Visas are required to enter Rwanda. UK, US, Canadian, Australian and most European citizens may enter Rwanda for up to 30 days for tourist purposes and can purchase visas on arrival at Kigali International Airport. Payment is to be made locally in cash, or by card; the current rate is $50USD per person. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. You can check if you need a visa to visit Rwanda by visiting this website: https://www.travisa.com/
• Hotel details for Visa applications (2019)
MOUNTAIN GORILLA VIEW
Center of Reservations, KG 9 Avenue, Nyarutarama, Kigali, Rwanda.
Tel : +250 788305708
Email : email@example.com
SERENA HOTEL KIGALI
KN 3 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda
Tel : +250 788 184 500
• Gorilla Permit
A payment of £1,239 per person per visit is required on booking for the Gorilla Permit (2019 rates). The payment as well as copies of passport are required at the time of booking. There are only a small, limited number of permits available per day, therefore the Rwanda extension is subject to availability and not guaranteed.
• Consular Information
There are a small number of major international embassies located in Kigali, including those for the US, Canada and UK. However, embassies for other countries, including Australia and New Zealand are located in Nairobi or other African cities, offering coverage to Rwanda. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs. The Gorilla Tours in Rwanda require a good level of health and are to suitable for passengers with limited mobility.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
Insect bites have been very minimal within previous groups, however please come prepared with your insect repellent spray/plug-in just in case. Mosquito nets are available upon request. Whilst on safari, the lodges are sprayed nightly with insect repellent.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints, but please note, whilst in the National Parks, doctors and medical supplies are few and far between.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Rwanda Gorilla Tour is an Activity Level 3 tour and will require a high level of physical activity over an extended period. It is not suitable if you have limited mobility.
Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you.
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations. However, there is a risk of yellow fever transmission in parts of Kenya.
Yellow Fever Certificate. Depending on the area you are visiting, or areas you have previously travelled to, you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination prior to travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Cholera and Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B; Meningococcal Meningitis; Rabies and Tuberculosis may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking and your medical history. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately.
• Mosquito & Insect Bites
Malaria precautions/prophylaxis are essential. Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers, especially after sunset. Use insect repellents on exposed skin and, where necessary, hotels will provide you with mosquito nets in the room. Rooms are sprayed nightly with insect repellent. If you have been travelling in a malarial area and develop a fever seek medical attention promptly. Remember malaria can develop even up to one year after exposure.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
Please watch our video "What's in my bag" for advice on what to pack for this trip: https://youtu.be/clUXbjs6I2E
As you will expect, going on safari is dry and dusty and the temperature likely to be anywhere from 20-32°C. Pack light comfortable clothing e.g. vests/t-shirts, shorts/light trousers for the daytime. Some of the game drives depart early in morning when temperatures are slightly cooler, so please bring a jumper/fleece or jacket. There is no dress code, but in the evenings, it is a good idea to wear long tops and trousers to reduce insect bites. Feel free to include a smart-casual outfit for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code. Comfortable footwear is recommended. As there is not much walking, a pair of sandals with a thick sole should be sufficient. There are pools at the lodges whilst on safari, so make sure you pack your swimwear.
For gorilla trekking you are able to hire waterproofs and hiking gaiters in Rwanda, though you might prefer to bring your own with you. It is essential that you have a good pair of worn-in, comfortable hiking shoes with ankle support and good grip/tread. A small backpack to carry your water, camera etc is also recommended.
Obviously, we can’t give advice on any medication but please ensure you are prepared for any minor ailments that may occur whilst you are away as pharmacies are few and far between. If you need any assistance with storage conditions for medication, do let us know. Don’t forget your suntan lotion.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Kenya and Rwanda Tours – These tours include internal flights in Kenya and to Rwanda. Please check with The Big Journey Company regarding specific luggage allowances for this flight.
Luggage handling is not included in our Rwanda tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services may available in some hotels on the tour.
Rwanda has four official languages – Kinyarwanda, English, French and Swahili. The main language of Rwanda is Kinyarwanda, with English and French serving as second languages for most of the population.
The time zone in Rwanda is GMT+2, 2 hours ahead of London GMT.
Rwanda has a temperate, tropical climate. Temperatures in Rwanda are lower other equatorial countries due to its high elevation. Kigali has a typical daily temperature range between 12-27°C (54-81°F), which does not vary much throughout the year.
In Rwanda, the standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz. You will need a European plug adapter, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer coverage and there are landline phone networks, but expect signal fluctuate and not be reliable. Internet or Wi-Fi and local sim cards are available for purchase at most hotels, but the strength is not reliable. Please check data roaming charges for Rwanda with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan franc (RFr). Credit cards are increasingly accepted at mid-high range establishments, but it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages. They have often run out of money and do not always accept foreign cards.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip.
Banks in Kigali can exchange US dollars or €uros for Rwandan Francs, but it can be time consuming and it is advised to use a bureau de change instead, where rates are often better. However, many establishments will also allow payments in US dollars. Please bring crisp, clean notes, issued after 2008 as older, torn or dirty notes will not be accepted. Travellers cheques are not accepted.
Rwanda is still a relatively inexpensive destination for western travellers to visit. with prices for even day to day items comparably cheap.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Rwanda are usually open 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday, with reduced opening hours on a Saturday.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
The food in Rwanda is very similar to that of its neighbouring African countries. There will be lots of grilled meats, including goat, chicken, beef and fish, as well as some more exotic game meats. Meals in Kigali are often influenced by Rwanda’s colonial history of French rule.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
In Rwanda, never drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (such as with iodine tablets). Do not drink from streams, rivers and lakes and it is best to avoid drinking from pumps and wells – as animal presence can still contaminate supplies. Bottled water can be bought at hotels, supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Rwanda offers lots for visitors to buy. There is a host of handicrafts made by locals - carvings, artwork, jewellery and brightly coloured clothing and linens - on offer to bring home with you from your trips.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 8.30am – 1pm before closing for lunch, and reopening from 2pm-5pm Monday–Friday, and in the mornings on Saturday. Most shops are closed on Sundays, with the exception of certain grocery shops and souvenir shops.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Crime levels in Rwanda are generally low. However, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Most visits to reserves and national parks are trouble-free. However, as you can imagine, with wildlife, there is always an inherent risk associated. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
Smoking is banned in most indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke.
Rwanda is mostly Christianity, with over 40% of the population belonging to the Catholic Church and almost 40% to the Protestant Church.
Rwanda offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
SPECIFIC INFORMATION FOR WALKING TOURS
• Gorilla Trekking in The Parc National De Volcans
In order to see the gorillas in the Parc National de Volcans, you will need to trek through the park to get to them. The day in the park will start with a very early morning transfer to the Park Office for trekking formalities before you begin.
Groups are assigned a gorilla group that they will go and observe. Due to the vast size of the park and the wild nature of the animals who live there, treks vary in duration depending on which gorilla group you are assigned to and where those animals have headed. After locating your assigned gorilla group, you will spend approximately one hour in their company before heading back down the volcano slopes. Please note, the treks may be long and the ground uneven. It is essential that you have a good pair of worn-in, comfortable hiking shoes with ankle support and good grip/tread. A small backpack to carry your water, camera etc is also recommended.
ARRIVAL IN RWANDA
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
Our tours to Rwanda also combine Kenya. Please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on Kenya or any other African countries you may be visiting.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated November 2019