FAQs

Rwanda never fails to thrill visitor, from the rolling plains of the Akagera National, the North most Virunga Mountains with the memorable trek of the rare mountain gorillas, the numerous picturesque lakes and the dense tropical rain forest. Almost all species of African wildlife are seen in Rwanda, while birdlife is prolific and a great number of species can be identified.


Where is Rwanda located in Africa?

Great Lakes region of Central Africa, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. Rwanda is blessed with abundance of natural beauty and breath taking scenery.


How is Security in Rwanda?

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.


How is the Weather and Climate in Rwanda?

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.


When is the best time of year to go on safari in Rwanda?

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.


What clothes should I bring on safari?

Safaris are informal and casual dress in comfortable lightweight cottons is appropriate, mostly of neutral coloring - khakis, browns and greens. Light comfortable shoes such as sneakers are recommended. Be prepared for cool evenings at higher altitudes of Virunga Mountains and Nyungwe, where you may need a sweater and trousers/jeans. Hiking boots are essential for trekking. Kigali also gets quite cold in the evenings during the rainy season, making a sweater a welcome garment. Generally on a safari, you will not be expected to wear a tie. A sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellant are a must.

Laundry

Most hotels and lodges will offer laundry service, but please make sure that the laundry be returned before departure.  Note that express laundry facilities might not be available in all hotels/lodges.


What are the attractions in Rwanda?

Rwanda as a country is a tourist’s paradise endowed with numerous sites, reserves and culture that together form the base for exploration while on a Safari.


Can I request for a custom safari?

Rwanda is basically an FIT destination, and therefore most safaris are tailor made for individual travelers. Booking can be made well in advance especially during the high season period. If the accommodation required is overbooked, we offer suitable alternative accommodation. There is much of a problem with accommodation in the low season and therefore chances are always open and good in securing the offered accommodation.


How far in advance should I book my safari?

It is better to book as far in advance as possible to ensure availability at the time you wish to travel (6-12 months), especially during the peak seasons (July, August, September & October and Christmas/New Years). We given a 48hours turn around to requests.


How big are safari groups?

Our safari groups can be as big as fifteen to twenty. Or can be as small as one person on safari. We cater for any number of clientele that our esteemed clients would prefer to travel in.  Whether a single traveler or twenty, we have safaris for everyone, please get in touch and find out what we have in store for you. Gorilla treks restrict numbers to only 64 per day only and can not all be given to one group.


Can I take my children on safari?

Children accompanying their parents are most welcome on safari as most Hotels and lodges offer discounted accommodation for them. However there are restrictions in trekking, children under 15 years of age are not allowed to trek Mountain gorillas.


What can be expected on a Safari?

A warm and friendly welcome by the local people, comfortable temperatures, a high degree of comfort, a variety of delicious food and exhausting but exhilarating days. During the heat of the day you may wish to relax around the pool. In the evening, everyone gathers to exchange stories of the experiences enjoying beverages. Retire early, as tomorrow will bring…well we just don’t know but we can assure you it will be exciting!


Is there a chance to chance to interact with the local people of Rwanda?

From very point of entry in to the country and to the hotels and the lodges you will be able to Interact with the local people. While the national language of Rwanda is Kinyarwanda, English and French are the official language and are widely spoken and understood across the country.


What accommodation is available?

We offer accommodation in Hotels and lodges. Hotel accommodation is available within cities while accommodation in the parks is in Lodges. Standards and services range from up-market to tourist. Deluxe and first class hotels are found in the main cities and luxurious lodges are set in the parks.


What’s the food like on safari?

Most of the hotels and lodges serve a buffet menu with a desert to complete your meal. Though there are a few lodges and hotels that serve a set menu. Food in all the properties is up to an international standard prepared by qualified chefs.


Can special dietary requirements be accommodated?

Are foods for special dietary needs available? Yes. Special dietary requirements are catered for throughout Africa. Please give us advanced notice so that we can make arrangements with the lodges and camps you are scheduled to stay at. Most restaurants offer selections for vegetarians, depending on their forte. Local specialties can be surprisingly good!


What is transport like and how are the Safari vehicles and roads?

All our vehicles have been adapted for African roads. They all have pop up or opening roofs so that clients may stand up to view and photograph animals in parks. These are only opened in the parks and not on the open roads. Be prepared for some rough roads: keep in mind that you are visiting a developing country and that the roads are generally rough. We request that clients do not stand on the seats in the vehicles. Upon departure from each lodge please check that your entire luggage has been put in the vehicle.  It is best to carry your hand luggage.


Car Rental:

Car rental companies are represented at the major towns and cities, as are taxis. If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Rwanda it is a good idea to carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the road conditions. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the towns along the main routes offer tire mending services at a very reasonable fee.  Be careful not to leave your vehicle open and unattended. You should have no problem sleeping outdoors in remote places along the way, but get into the habit of locking things away before you go to sleep. Driving is done on the right side of the road. Drivers require a valid license that must include a picture of the holder. A valid foreign license may be used for up to 90 days, but only after it has been endorsed by the Road Transport Office in Kigali.


What photography advice can you give?

Rwanda is Photographers 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. 


Are there any Health requirements to travel to Rwanda?

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. Malarial precautions vary for each individual country. It is important to note that vaccination requirements do change from time to time and we recommend you visit your consult your local G.P, health department or embassy in the country of your origin 01 month before travel for the latest health precautions. It important to keep taking your anti-malarials on a regular basis even after your return home (as per your Doctor’s advise). We advise that you buy travel insurance covering accidents, illness or hospitalization for the period of your travel to Rwanda. Temporary membership in East African Flying Doctors' Service (AMREF) is also recommended for safari goers. Members who require emergency medical attention while on safari are flown to Nairobi for medical attention. Emergencies: Police 112 /Ambulance 912 AMREF +254 20 50 12 80


All hotels and lodges situated in mosquito prevalent areas supply mosquito nets over the beds.  Please make use of them. Health facilities are adequate in major cities and towns. If you are not sure where to find medical help, check out with the nearest international hotel. Doctors often request cash payments.
Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever are advised.  The bilharzia parasite is found in some lakes, streams and rivers on the continent. Avoid swimming in them!


Is it OK to drink the water from the taps?

Rwanda: While water in major towns is chlorinated and relatively safe to drink, it is safer to drink sealed bottled water, available from most hotels and lodges, and also sold in the locally supermarkets. Primate Safaris limited also provides water to its clients while on safari with a particular regard to Road safari clients.


Chemists / pharmacies

Travelers 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.


Electricity:

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.


Banks, Money and currency:

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 thy 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 bureu. 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.


VAT (Value Added Tax)

A VAT (tax currently 18% on most items) is levied and visitors cannot claim a refund on goods purchased.


Can you provide tipping guideline?

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.

GUIDES: 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.


Advise on communication and postage:

Rwanda has excellent cell phone coverage and roaming services are available in most places. Local SIM cards and mobile hand sets are readily available in most town centres. The country code is +250 and the Satellite Earth Station - 4 Intel Sat.


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.


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.


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.


Transportation by Air

Kigali International Airport is the main point of entry. Rwandair is the national airline serving numerous international routes with regular service links to Gisenyi and Cyagugu. Kenya Airways / KLM / SN Brussels / Ethiopian Airlines and Air Uganda links Rwanda with regularly scheduled air services.


What do I need to know about Visa?

In view of the bilateral agreements, the Nationals of the following Countries may visit Rwanda without visa for a period up to 90 days: USA, Germany, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong and Burundi.
For all other nationals check your visa requirements on the Rwanda Ministry of Immigration website http://www.migration.gov.rw/Visa.html


What are the time differences?

Throughout the year, Standard Time in Rwanda is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time in the U.S.