Rwanda travel advice
Rwanda is taking tentative steps toward tourism and the infrastructure is still in its developing stages.
There are varying levels of hotels and lodges, and plans are in hand to build new camps within the next few years.
The main reason for visiting Rwanda is to track the famous mountain gorillas, but though this is an undeniably wonderful experience there is a great deal more to the country and it is well worth spending a few extra days to experience it all. A couple of days of gorilla tracking is ideal and can easily be combined with some time in Kigali, relaxing along the shores of Lake Kivu or chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest.
As Rwanda has excellent flight connections to Kenya you can combine gorilla tracking with a more extensive safari or time on the beach.
The national language is Kinyarwanda, but the majority of Rwandans speak at least one international language. People in the tourism industry, will usually be able to speak French and English.
Food and drink
Good western food with a Belgian influence is served in tourist-orientated restaurants and hotels in all centers. Rwandan favorites include goat kebabs, grilled tilapia (a lake fish), ugali (maize porridge), matoke (cooked banana) and potatoes.
Tipping is not compulsory, but always enthusiastically received if you are happy with the service and would like to tip. We recommend that you tip your guide direct at the end of your stay in camp; as a rough guideline you might want to tip from US$5-10 per day. It is also a nice gesture to give general camp staff a tip; we would recommend a tip of around US$5-10 per guest per day. This should be placed in the communal tipping box. Obviously this is very much a rough guide and you are completely free to give whatever you feel is appropriate.
The currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc. The exchange rate against the dollar is around Rfr500 to 1U$. US dollars are a widely accepted in Rwanda. However, US$ in denominations of 100 are not accepted due to counterfeits. Visa Credit cards are usually only accepted at the major hotels in Kigali so ensure you have a good amount of cash to take around the country.
Conservative casual wear is generally acceptable everywhere, but revealing clothes should be avoided. Photographing daily scenes of people is not acceptable unless you have asked permission first and paid a small fee to your intended subject. Please take the normal environmentally friendly steps you should take anywhere in the world, but especially in the third world - use water and electricity supplies carefully, re-use towels in hotels and choose locally produced goods where possible.
Our certified country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the State Department website.
When to go to Rwanda
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Rwanda.
17¼ hours (New York to Kigali)