RWANDA

Trip Facts & Information

Reading Materials

General Travel Guide
BOOTH, Janice. Rwanda, 4th (Bradt Travel Guide Rwanda). Bradt Travel Guides, 4th edition, 2010, 288 pages. Paperback, $17.81

Animals
KINGDON, Jonathan. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. A & C Black Publishers Ltd, 2003. 496 pages. Paperback, $47.89

STEVENSON, Terry and John FANSHAWE. The Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Princeton University Press, 2006 (2002). 287 color plates featuring 1,388 species. Illustrated by Brian Small, John Gale, and Norman Arlott. Distribution maps and concise species accounts opposite color plates describe appearance, status, range, habits, and voice. Includes information on habitats, protected areas, and conservation issues, with a map of important bird areas. 604 pp. Paperback. $25.04

Natural History
LANJOUW, Annette, Mountain Gorillas: Biology, Conservation, and Coexistence, The Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition, 2008, 320 pages, Hardcover, $26.30

WEBER, Bill and VEDDER, Amy, In the Kingdom of Gorillas: The Quest to Save Rwanda's Mountain Gorillas, Simon & Schuster, 2002, 384 pages, Paperback, $9.60

Memoir
FOSSEY, Diane, Gorillas in the Mist, Mariner Books; Mariner books Ed edition. 2000, 400 pages, Paperback, $9.73

CARR, Rosamunde Halsey and Ann Howard HALSEY, Land of a Thousand Hills, Plume, 2000, 256 pages, Paperback, $11.56

Passports

A passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry to Rwanda is required. A passport is also needed in order to depart the U.S./Canada. If you currently do not have a passport or need to renew your passport, please apply as soon as possible. Typical application processing time is 4-6 weeks in the U.S. with an expedited service option of 2-3 weeks.

For more information on acquiring a U.S. passport, please go to the U.S. State Department website. For information on acquiring a Canadian passport, please visit Passport Canada.

Visas

A visa for Rwanda is not required for visitors holding a passport from the U.S., U.K., Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Australia. For nationalities requiring a Rwanda visa, the fee at Kigali airport is $60 for single entry.

Air Travel & Luggage

Ujuzi African Travel provides comprehensive travel options, including international, regional, and in-country flight reservations. International flights are available into/from Kigali, Rwanda. The primary international carriers that serve U.S., Canadian, and European travelers with the most direct flights are KLM (Delta), Brussels Airlines, and Ethiopian Airlines (United/Continental). International carriers allow 2 bags of 50 lbs each on their flights. However, it is strongly suggested that due to vehicle size and any regional or in-country flights you may take that you carry 1 soft-sided bag, weighing less than 45 lbs.

Regional airline carriers in the area include Rwanda Air, Air Uganda, and Kenya Airways. They serve the surrounding countries with direct and connecting flights. Most of these flights allow 45 lbs for checked luggage.

Currency & Spending Money

The Rwandan Franc (RWF) is used throughout Rwanda. US Dollars are accepted at some lodges, but it is more cost effective to use Francs. It is suggested that you exchange US Dollars for Francs prior to arrival or, if you bring US Dollars with you, please note that you will get a better exchange rate with larger bills at the foreign exchange or banks.

Depending on what you want to buy, it is suggested that you bring $500-1,000 with you ($60 of which will go to your visa, if you need one). The rest can be used for souvenirs, alcohol, and tips.

There are very few places in Rwanda at which a credit card can be used. Please note: Cashing travelers' checks can be very difficult. It is advised to not bring them.

Tipping

Do not feel that 15% is mandatory. For lodge and restaurant staff, $3-5 is sufficient per person per day. In locations where you'll be staying more than one night, leave tips at the end of your stay; it is not necessary to tip more than once. Guides for nature walks, canopy walks, chimpanzee treks, and other natural activities should be tipped $5 per person. Mountain gorilla guides can be tipped $30 per person (for all guides) and a mountain gorilla porter is $15 for hire and a $5 tip is sufficient. Driver/guides should be tipped at the end of your trip; use your discretion in this area, but base it on their performance. The "average" is approximately $5 per day (per person), less for children, is accepted as the benchmark.

Many of the personnel who will serve you during your stay, depend on tips as part of their living, so your tip will have a significant impact on their livelihood.

Security

Rwanda is an acceptably safe travel destination since democratic, local governments came into power. In Rwanda threats will not come from banditry or political instability in general, but rather from malaria, which can be prevented by following the simple steps below. In Rwanda pick-pocketing and muggings can be a problem and tourists are encouraged to be cautious at all times, practice common sense, and not to walk around at dusk or later. However, the numbers of these attacks are small and majority of tourists enjoy Rwanda in peace. Even though political instability Rwanda is rare, Ujuzi African Travel errs on the side of caution and does not book trips to the country shortly before or after presidential elections.

Immunizations

Before visiting Rwanda, you will need to get vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases for which you might be at risk (Note: Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities).

To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine (ask your regular practitioner who this is) at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect, and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it. Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, anti-malaria drugs, and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

Please note that Rwanda requires proof of the yellow fever vaccine. Upon receiving this vaccine your health care practitioner should provide you with a "yellow card" that provides proof of immunization. Please carry this card in your passport.

For more information on immunizations you may need for Rwanda, please visit the Center for Disease Control.

Travel Insurance & Health

Optional insurance coverage is available for baggage, accident, and trip cancellation/interruption through Ujuzi African Travel. Please contact Ujuzi African Travel for a plan description and quote.

Before going abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, REMEMBER to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form. Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States.

Senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.

To facilitate identification in case of an accident, complete the information page on the inside of your passport providing the name, address, and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.

A traveler going abroad with any pre-existing medical problems should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled.

Water and Drinks

Do not drink or use water from a faucet, including brushing your teeth. Bottled water will be provided in rooms and vehicles. Bottled water is available for purchase during meals, unless provided by the lodge. Soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available. Rwandan coffee may seem watery, but it is improving over time! For alcoholic beverages, try BRALIRWA, Primus, Mutzi, Heineken, and Amstel or South African wines.

Food

You can expect to eat close to 90% of your meals at or from lodges or hotels. Days that include game drives early morning or mid-day or transportation to and from destinations may include a packaged breakfast and/or lunch box. You can expect most Rwandan accommodations to serve high-quality Western or Indian food. Vegetarians are often poorly catered to (with the exception of Indian restaurants), so please inform Ujuzi African Travel in advance about your dietary preference so we can make the appropriate accommodations. Be sure to try some local cuisine as well. The starch usually comes from ugali or matoke. Ugali is a stiff maize porridge eaten throughout sub-Saharan African and matoke is a boiled and mashed green banana. Cassava, yams, and sweet potatoes are also eaten.

Weather

Because of its location on the equator and elevation, Rwanda has the gift of vacation-weather year around with minor temperature variations. The altitude on a typical Rwanda safari varies from 3,200 feet to 7,800 feet above sea level. Days are pleasant, 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and nights are moderate, 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At higher altitudes it can be cooler, especially in the Virunga Mountains. The green (rainy) season is usually from April to May and again from late October to November.

Packing

A detailed packing list will be provided to you, based on your destinations, activities, and the time of year of your travel.

Electricity

The voltage used in Rwanda is 230 volts (U.S./Canada uses 110-120 volts), Plugs C or J. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Shopping

Most of the hotels have wonderful gift shops with excellent, locally-made items. If you see something you like and want, buy it. Chances are it is only available there and you won't see it again. Also be aware that large items are hard to carry while out on safari and may get broken. If you feel you have to have it, consider shipping it back to the US. Most stores will do it for a fee. Finally, consider scheduling a visit to a local market into your itinerary, or if there is time, request a stop at one along the way. A visit to a market is an excellent way to learn about the local culture!

Language

Many languages and spoken in Rwanda: with English, French, with Kinyarwanda as the official language. At most tourist destinations (airports, lodges, cultural centers) you will find proficient English being spoken. When visiting tribes, a translator/guide will be used for communication.

Communication with Your Country of Origin

Phone and internet communication is very unreliable in East Africa. Using your personal cell phone is an option, albeit an expensive one. Call your cell company and find out rates and any special plans that you may use, but in general you should plan to use it only for emergencies. Most lodges will have computers and internet to rent for your use.