Practical Information for Travel to Rwanda

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This section will give some of the practical information you may need before departing and while on your trip.

 

Basic Information

Official Name: Republic of Rwanda
Area: 26,338 sq km

Population: 12 million (July 2013 est.)

Capital: Kigali

Largest Cities, with Population
Kigali: 745,000
Butare: 89,000 
Gitarama: 87,000
Ruhengeri: 86,000

Religious Affiliations:
Catholic: 56.5%
Protestant: 37.1%
Muslims: 4.6%

 
 

Climate

Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 27 °C (81 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are generally cooler than the lower-lying east. 

There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February.

Visa Rwanda

Visas are required by everyone except nationals of Germany, South Africa, Sweden, the UK, the USA and other East African countries. All other nationalities must either obtain a visa in their country of residence from a Rwandan embassy or high commission. The cost of the visa is

Alternatively, travellers can obtain a "Visa Acceptance Form" online. The process is a bit confusing, so please follow these steps:

Step 1: Gather the information the encessary information before surfing to the migration website from Rwanda:

- the invitation letter from Matoke Tours.

- the entry point into the country (probably Kigali Airport).

- your passport details

Step 2: Go to website: https://www.migration.gov.rw/home/

Step 3: Choose a Language.

Step 4: click on “Services” and then“Visa”.

Step 5: Click at “Entry visa” and then “Apply online now”.

Step 6: Fill in form (use the information listed on step 1) and send it.

Step 7: Check if form was sent successfully.

Step 8: Receive your visa acceptance by mail 3 to 7 days after sending your form.

Upon arrival at the border, you will be asked to present this letter along with US$ 30 for a single-entry 30-day visa.

 
 

Cash

The official currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (Rwf). The rates below are of October 2018 (xe.com):

1 Euro = 1006 Rwf
1 US$ = 869 Rwf

(For the current rates, please refer to Internet sites such as xe.com)

Many lodge and restaurant prices will be set in US dollars while outside of lodges (souvenirs, snacks, etc.) Francs will be necessary. 

US dollars printed before 2006 are not accepted in the country. When you exchange money, use big notes (50 or 100 US dollar). The exchange rate of smaller notes is much lower. Make sure notes are not cut, or damaged in any way. They will not be accepted.

We advise that you budget your cash needs per person:

US$30 per day on full-board tour packages to cover drinks and other personal expenses.

US$60 per day on bed & breakfast tour packages to cover meals, drinks and personal expenses not included.

Exchange Rates

You can change dollars, pounds and Euros at the border posts and Kigali and at major banks in certain secondary cities. It’s good to have some US dollars with you at all times.

Exchange Rate for October 2018 (xe.com):

Euro - Dollar 1.16
Euro - Rwandan Franc 1006
US Dollar - Euro 0.86
US Dollar - Rwandan Franc 869
Pound Sterling - Dollar 1.32
Pound Sterling - Rwandan Franc 1147

 

(For the current rates, please refer to Internet sites such as xe.com)

Before leaving the country, you may exchange Francs into Euros, dollars or pounds (obviously at a less favorable rate).

 
 

ATM & Credit Cards

ATM: Bank of Kigali and Ecobank both have ATMs that will accept international Visa cards

Credit Card: Credit cards are not yet used much in Rwanda. Only at mayor hotels and upmarket lodges can this be used, but these will sometimes add a surcharge.

Traveler Cheques: Traveler cheques are not accepted in Rwanda.

Tipping

Tipping is common in the cities these days due to the large international tourist presence. In restaurants, we recommend a tip of about 10% of the bill.

For your entire tour group, a common tip of US$10 per day can be expected for your driver / guide. 

 

 
 

Plugs and Voltage

Western European-style plugs (type c) with two pins: 230 V,50 Hz. are used throughout the country. See photo on the side.

Internet

Internet cafes can be found though the connection (especially outside Kigali) is generally very slow. WIFI is sometimes available in lodges and it is possible to buy a 3G mobile internet USB dongle to be used with your laptop. It will cost around US$ 30 and is for sale in Kigali along with various sizes of data packages.

 
 

Charging camera and phone

You can charge your cameras, phones and other electric items in most hotels. If you bring a couple of chargeable items you might consider bringing an adaptor with extra outlets since the amount of outlets is often limited. We'd advise you to bring extra batteries for your camera, since some hotels don’t have power and power cuts might occur.

Luggage

We request you to bring a bag or suitcase made from a soft material. Hard cover suitcases are difficult to place in the car and are likely to break on the bumpy roads. When traveling with 4 persons or more we request you to limit the weight of your bag/suitcase to 15 kg.

 
 

Phone

Mobile telephony has become very big in Rwanda. Throughout the country simcards sell for less than a US dollar which you then can top up with credit and make reasonably priced calls to most international destinations. Most urban areas have reception.

The country code for Rwanda is 00250 or + 250

Gay Travelers

Throughout Africa it is generally safe for gay people to travel. Unlike in neighbouring Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, there is no official prohibition against homosexuality in Rwanda and it is unlikely that gay travellers will experience any particular difficulties.

 
 

Health

Contact your general practitioner at least 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.

Medical facilities in Rwanda are limited, particularly outside major towns. Medical help at the scene of an accident is likely to be equally scarce. In the case of a serious accident or illness, evacuation by air ambulance may be required. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and/or repatriation.

It possible to purchase a short-term insurance policy with AMREF Flying Doctors programme to cover the period of your tour. Contact matoke tours about this insurance. 

Make sure your Yellow Fever vaccination is up to date before arriving in Rwanda as this is often asked for by immigration officials.

Contacting Matoke Tours

Below you can find emergency contacts to reach Matoke Tours. We request you to use the office phone for all regular questions.

Please respect the privacy of our staff and only use the emergency numbers when it's a real emergency. 

Uganda Office

Below you can find emergency contacts to reach Matoke Tours.  We request you to use the office phone for all regular questions.

Please respect the privacy of our staff and only use the emergency numbers when it's a real emergency.

Email: contact@matoketours.com
Office Phone: (+256) (0) 392 202 907
Emergency Number 1: (+256) (0) 783 151 165 (Ilse)
Emergency Number 2: (+256) (0) 773 757 976 (Harriet)
 
 

Safety and Risks

Rwanda is a relatively safe country to travel in and the people are considered to be very polite and welcoming. You should take the usual safety precautions and contact your local embassy for more safety instructions during your tour.

Air Ambulance Scheme

Medical facilities in East Africa are limited. This is especially true for some of the remote places where your safari may take you. In case of a serious medical emergency, getting to the nearest full-service hospital may mean a long ground transfer over poor roads.

Fortunately, Matoke Tours has an agreement with AMREF to provide an inexpensive Tourist Air Evacuation Scheme. For registered clients, AMREF Flying Doctors will respond swiftly and without delay in the event of an incident and coordinate directly with work with the client’s overseas insurance company (though it is not necessary to have such insurance to qualify for the scheme). Click here for information about the insurance and how to sign up.

 

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

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