Updated: Jan 3
Short getaway to explore "the land of one thousand hills"
What's Rwanda famous for?
Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda's stunning scenery and warm, friendly people offer unique experiences in one of the most remarkable countries in the world. It has extraordinary biodiversity, incredible wildlife living throughout its volcanoes, mountain rainforest and sweeping plains.
Here, you can also taste one of the best coffee in the world.
Also, as mentioned in our Uganda article, Rwanda is renowned for mountain gorillas, too. Around 400 of our primate cousins are roaming the rainforests of Volcanoes National Park.
Who didn`t hear about Hotel Rwanda, the movie?
Unfortunately, Rwanda is also famous for the genocide that happened in 1994, which is really heart - braking.
What to expect
Language: Kinyarwanda, French, Swahili, English
Currency: Rwandan Franc
Payments: cash is the key but sometimes credit cards are accepted as well, mostly in big settlements
Plug type: types C and J - plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type J is the plug which has three round pins
Safety: super safe but maybe it`s better to avoid the Congo border areas
Same as in Uganda, Covid vaccination or PCR test and entry visa ( depending on your nationality ). For the entry visa you will need Yellow Fever vaccination. The visa needs to be obtained in advance.
Also, you need 6 months validity on the passport.
The tourist visa can be of 3 types: single entry, multiple entries and East African Visa.
The East African Visa covers: Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
As mentioned in the previous posts, if you wish to travel in at least 2 of these destinations, it is better to get the East African Visa.
IMPORTANT to know: if you apply for the East African Visa, you need to apply for it on the website of the first country you plan to arrive to.
If you are going via Uganda, like we did, you can find all the important information here.
If you are going straight to Rwanda, you need to get the visa on the Rwanda authorities website.
Combining Uganda and Rwanda
Because Rwanda is a relatively small country, most of the people, including ourselves, combine these 2 countries in the same trip.
They are quite similar in terms of culture and you can combine the visas, as mentioned before.
Same as in Uganda, the fastest way to get around here is by car. We rented our 4x4 car from Uganda and we asked the rental company to obtain a border crossing permit for us, which only costed 50$.
You can find out more details about our car rental company on our Uganda article.
The roads in Rwanda are much better than in Uganda, we must say. So driving doesn`t pose too many problems. The only thing to be aware is the fact that you are driving on the right side of the road here.
There are also a lot of speed cameras which are actually working, so please make sure you respect the speed limit.
If you do get a fine, the good thing is that you can pay online. Rwanda is such a developed country, isn`t it? 😁
Also, same as in Uganda, try to avoid driving after getting dark, due to the many obstacles that one could find on the road: unsignaled people, animals, vehicles etc.
When to go
Same as in Uganda, mostly.
High Season: June to September (Lodges might be full and gorilla permits must be booked long in advance) Low Season: March, April, October, November (These are the peaks of the rains) Best Weather: June to August (Least rain) Worst Weather: April (Most rain, forest trails are slippery)
We went over there, however, in September and the weather was generally good.
We only stayed 3 nights: one night in Kivu lake and another 2 nights in Kigali.
In Khivu lake we camped in Gisenyi, in a really nice place which had amazing lounge terrace and many breakfast options, together with really good facilities. The place is called INZU Lodge and we highly reccommend it.
In Kigali, we had a more fancy experience, which we don`t regret - Heaven Boutique Hotel.
This hotel was started as a hospitality training centre and you can tell. The design was really nice, integrated in the lush, African nature. It had various pools, spa and posh dining by the pool. A bit pricey, but is definitey worth the money.
What to do and see
Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park
As mentioned in our previous article, mountain gorilla tracking can only be done in 3 countries in the world: Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda has the highest price and Congo has the lowest price, but the safety over there can be an issue. Therefore, Uganda is way cheaper and most of the people, including ourselves, decide to do the trek over there.
Roughly, the prices per person per day are:
$1500 USD in Rwanda, $400 in Democratic Republic of Congo or $700 in Uganda.
Our gorilla experince in Uganda can be checked here.
All permits in all 3 countries need to be purchased in advance.
Chimpanzee trekking and canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park
We didn`t do any of them due to the lack of time but it should be really cool.
As opposed to gorilla tracking, chimpanzee trekking is cheaper in Rwanda than in Uganda, costing only 90$ per person per day as opposed to 200$ in Uganda.
So, if you have time for that, Rwanda gives a realy nice and cheap opportunity for chimpanzee tracking.
Same as with gorilla permits, chimpanzee permits must be purchased in advance. More details and how to purchase it here.
Despite having one of the best coffees in the world, Rwanda doesn`t have a great coffee culture: most of the coffee they produce gets exported.
However, it is a really enjoyable experience to go to any of these coffee plantations to learn about the process and try their coffee.
More details here.
Safari in Akagera National Park
Although Rwanda is not so well known for safari, if you have some extra time you can give a go.
Akagera National Park lies in eastern Rwanda, hugging the border with Tanzania. It's characterized by woodland, swamps, low mountains and savannah. The varied terrain shelters wildlife including zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions and hundreds of bird species, such as the rare shoebill stork. In the southern part of the park, vast Lake Ihema is home to hippos and crocodiles.
More details and price list here.
We had about 2 days in Kigali and we really enjoyed it. Compared to the rest of Africa, this capital city is really developed and has many interesting restaurants and coffee places to hang out and feel its vibe. For us it felt like a break from Africa, in Africa.
Some city highlights are:
Climbing Mount Kigali
Visiting Kigali Genocide Memorial
Visiting the Hotel des Mille Collines - the actual Hotel Rwanda
Visiting Art Centers, Crafts Shops and art galleries such as Nyamirambo Women’s Centre
Some nice restaurants and coffee places that we enjoyed are:
Our coffee experience
After doing some research, we managed to find a tour close to Gisenyi, which had more local flavour than we imagined.
The place is called Cooprocaki Coffee Experience and the whole tour is about learning how is the coffee processed, from bean to cup. It lasts about 2 hours and at the end of it, you get to taste a cup of fresh grounded coffee, which was really tasty and flavoured.
The nice part is the fact that everything takes place in the garden of some locals and all the neighbours around come and help as well. So it felt like a really proper African experience.
The guy that did our tour can be contacted on Whatsapp: +250 787 577 478. The price is about 25$ per person.
Other facts about the country
We found it slightly less friendly than Uganda
The roads are better
The country is more developed
They say is one of the cleanest nations on Earth
You’ll find some of the best coffee in the world here
Rwanda pioneered equal gender representation in politics
Rwanda will become the first African nation to host the Road World Championships
Next, our photo gallery taken shot with our Sony A7III and Sony 55 mm, 85 mm and 135 mm. Enjoy!