Rwanda is a landlocked country in Central Africa. Also known as “the land of a thousand hills”, situated on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift, a western arm of the Great Rift Valley, on the watershed between two Africa’s largest river systems : the Nile and Congo. Much of the country’s 26,338 km2is impressively mountainous, the highest peak being Kalisimbi( 4,507 m) in the volcanic Virunga chain protected by the Volcanoes National Park. The largest body of water is Lake Kivu, but numerous other lakes are dotted around the country, notably Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, and Mugesera, some of which have erratic shapes following the contours of the steep mountains that enclose them. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the North, Tanzania to the East, Burundi to the South, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West.
Rwanda has a temperate climate with temperatures of 250-300 C during the day ; 150C at night throughout the year. Nights can be chilly in Nyungwe and Virunga. Most parts of the country receive in excess of 1,000 mm of rainfall.
Rwanda experience two rain seasons , the long rains between February to June and the short rains between mid-September to mid-December. Dry months are January , July and August to mid-September.
Capital City: Kigali
Kinyarwanda, English and French. In most tourist centers English is spoken.
Currency: Rwandan Francs
Time Zone: GMT+2
When to Visit
Rwanda can be visited throughout the year. Gorilla trekking and other forest walks are less demanding during the drier months. The European winter is the best time for birds, as Pala arctic migrants supplement resident species.
Bring binoculars greatly enhance game drives, forest walks and bird watching. Bring a camera and an adequate stock of film. Print film is available but transparency film is not. Toiletries and other essentials can be bought in the cities.
What to Wear
Dress codes are informal. Daytime temperatures are generally warm, so bring lots of light clothing, supplemented by light sweaters for the cool evenings and heavier clothing for the Volcanic and Nyungwe National parks. When tracking gorillas, wear sturdier clothing to protect against stinging nettles, and solid walking shoes. A hat and sunglasses provide protection against the sun, and a waterproof jacket may come in handy in the moist mountains.
Rwanda has an excellent cell phone network covering almost the entire country. International phone calls can be made easily. Appropriate SIM cards for the network are readily available everywhere, even in remote towns. Cell phones can be purchased or rented from major shops in Kigali. Most towns have several Internet cafes and computer centers.
Rwanda has strict environmental laws. The use of plastic bags (polythene papers) has been banned. Beware not to carry such since they will not be allowed into the country at the border checkpoints. Kigali is a clean and green city. You are expected to throw your litter in rubbish cans which are fitted all over. Walk along the provided foot paths. Do not step on the grass.
Safety and Health
A certificate of yellow-fever vaccination is required. Much of Rwanda lies at too high an elevation for malaria to be a major concern, but the disease is present and prophylactic drugs are strongly recommended. It is advisable not to drink tap water. Bottled mineral water can be bought in all towns. Hospitals are located in all major towns.
Passports and Visas
Foreign Nationals wishing to obtain Rwandan Visas, submit their applications to Rwandan Embassies or Diplomatic Missions of their Country of residence for processing.
In the case of those coming from countries where we don’t have an Embassy or Diplomatic Mission, they should request for an entry facility on line which will be used to obtain a visa on any official point of entry in Rwanda. The website is www.migration.gov.rw