Country InformationRwanda is an equatorial country in Eastern Afrika. The country is rather small (only about half the size of Switzerland), but with about 13 Mio people one of the densiest populated in all Africa. Rwanda is bordered by Burundi to the south, Uganda to the north, Tansania to the east and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. Most of the country lies above 1,000m altitude with temperatures being moderate and fairly stable all year round. The "land of a thousand hills," a direct translation from the French "Pays des Mille Collines," is an apt description for the verdant country of Rwanda.
The center and west of the country is dominated by mountains, the east by rolling savannah (Akagera). The western border is part of the East African Rift with Lake Kivu part of the Albertine Rift. The mountains form a watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins to the west and east. The famous Virunga mountains are located in the north of the country forming the border to Uganda and DRC, with its highest point at 4,507m and home to the last remaining mountain gorillas.
What does a journey in Rwanda cost?The best time to travel and therefore the maximum accommodation prices are charged from June to September. In addition, fees for the gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking and for the national parks, as well as the cost for the private vehicle with guide need to be included when calculating a trip. Rwanda has been pursuing a policy of Low Volume - High Impact for several years now, promoting mainly the construction of very expensive accommodation managed by the best operators in the market, such as Wilderness, Singita and One & Only. At the same time, the cost of gorilla trekking was raised to US$ 1,500 per person. Since almost every visit to Rwanda involves gorilla trekking and the number of permits per day is naturally limited, this approach makes a lot of sense from an economic point of view, but has made travel to Rwanda very expensive.
Climate and best times to visitRwanda lies only 2° south of the equator and one would expect a hot climate, however most of the places of interest lie at an altitude of more than 1,000m and temperatures are fairly constant throughout the year and vary only slightly. The average temperature in the capital Kigali is about 22 °C.
The rainy seasons follow the pattern of the East-African monsoon, with one rainy season from October to November and a second stronger one from March to May, with most rain usually falling in April. A good time to visit Rwanda is in the dry periods from June to September and December to February.
Immigration rules and regulationsBoth Swiss and EU citizens require a passport which is valid at least 6 months beyond the date of your departure from Rwanda, and must contain at least two blank pages. Visas are required and can be purchased online or on arrival. Exact details must be clarified before arriving.
FlightsThere is no direct flight from Switzerland to Rwanda. Good options are KLM via Amsterdam, Qatar via Doha or Brussels Airlines via Brussels to Kigali. Depending on the time of arrival an overnight stay in Kigali is required.
Health and insuranceMalaria prophylaxis is recommended for travel to Rwanda. Please seek advice from your doctor. A yellow fever vaccination is not required for Rwanda alone. However if entering Rwanda from a yellow fever epidemic country such as Uganda or Democratic Republic of Congo, a yellow fever vaccination is required. If entering from Tanzania, no yellow fever vaccination is required.
Please make sure that you are adequately insured, particularly for a medical evacuation from a remote area and repatriation. All necessary medication must be brought from home. Do not rely on getting the required medication in Rwanda. All medication must be kept in your hand luggage.
Currency and methods of paymentThe currency is the Rwanda Franc. Dollar or Euro can be exchanged into the local currency if needed. Major credit cards are accepted, but please make sure that your PIN code works, as transactions via the automated teller machines (ATM) are faster and much more reliable. Most lodges accept credit cards. Tips to guides and camp staff can be given in cash in US Dollars. The local staff can't change any other currency into local currency due to bank restrictions. Please note that your dollar bills should not be older than 2010 as the local banks do not accept older dollar bills.
Dress CodeIt is best to bring casual wear that works well for safaris and gorilla trekking. Remember to bring sweaters and raincoats for the early morning and evening hous and the occasional rainy days. As for footwear, we recommend comfortable, open sandals and a pair of sturdy shoes. Hiking boots are needed for the gorilla trekking. Please remember that you can have your clothes washed in many of our lodges.
CommunicationThe principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans, with French and English serving as official languages. Mobile connection is usually good, unless you are far away from urban centres. However, most camps provide Internet / Wifi access nowadays.
Food and drinkFood at the lodges is of excellent quality. We recommend you to drink only bottled drinking water. Only bottled mineral water and filtered ice are available at the lodges.
ElectricityThe power supply is 220 - 230 volts. Adapters for all countries are present at all good lodges. Computers, cameras and iPods can then be recharged. The power supply is available 24 hrs a day at most lodges. The plugs have three large rectangular prongs (UK style).
LaundryClothes can be washed at almost all lodges. Do not take too many clothes, instead make use of the laundry service wherever possible.
TrafficTraffic in Rwanda drives on the right-hand side.
Time differenceEuropean Winter Time: + 1 hour.
European Summer Time: no time difference.