If you’ve been contemplating travel to Rwanda, you probably have a ton of questions! “Is Rwanda safe to visit?” “What are the travel requirements?” This Rwanda travel guide will answer all your questions!
Rwanda is a relatively small Eastern African country bordered by Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country’s currency is Rwandan Francs, and 1 USD is roughly 1164 RWF.
Despite its seemingly small size on the map, we discovered that Rwanda has a fair amount of land mass! It can take hours to get from Kigali to many of the must-visit spots in other parts of the country, so be prepared to travel if you want to explore this country.
Getting to Rwanda
@afomastravels Weve arrived in Rwanda! 🇷🇼 Cant wait to share more about this scenic country with you. What do you want to know about visiting Rwanda? #visitrwanda #rwanda #lakekivu #kigalitiktok ♬ Sound by ajwavy – John Zimmer
Before you book that flight, here are some tips to keep in mind. Find out about visas, flight selections, and necessary vaccines for Rwanda in this section.
Do you need a visa for Rwanda?
Rwanda provides visas on arrival for citizens of most countries. It is free for people from African Union, La Francophonie, and Commonwealth countries, as well as any countries with which Rwanda has a waiver agreement.
When you arrive at Passport Control, they’ll simply put a stamp on your passport. US citizens are required to pay $50 for a single entry visa and $70 for multiple entry Rwanda visas.
Do you need a yellow fever vaccine for Rwanda?
Yes, yellow fever vaccines (and proof of vaccination) are required for people who live in countries in which the disease is endemic. This does not include the US and most Western countries.
FYI, Border Control and Port Health did not check our yellow fever vaccine cards (although we had them) even though we flew in from Nigeria. Rwanda’s passport control is probably the quickest and most efficient I’ve experienced–ever!
Which airlines fly to Kigali Rwanda?
Rwandair, KLM, and Turkish Airlines all fly to Kigali, Rwanda. We flew Rwandair, and their service was surprisingly good (we had very low expectations). The flights were all on time, and we even arrived several minutes earlier.
Life in Rwanda
What’s life like in Rwanda? If you were wondering, I have some answers for you!
What’s the local food in Rwanda?
This one is tricky because I honestly don’t think they have one.
Rwandans eat a variety of dishes, but some popular ones include Ugali (kind of like maize “fufu”), Mizuzu (fried plantains–we saw this on the menu everywhere we went), fried potatoes, and pumpkin-based dishes.
Is English widely spoken in Rwanda?
Although English is one of the official languages in Rwanda, we found that most Rwandans don’t speak English fluently. Even at the big chain hotel where we stayed, most of the staff weren’t fluent English speakers–and that’s fine.
Rwandans mostly speak Kinyarwanda. However, many Rwandans also speak French fluently. I found that most could understand my French better than my English. A few speak Swahili too, although we rarely encountered any Swahili speakers.
What is the climate in Rwanda?
The weather in Rwanda is mostly cool. We visited in July, which is the warmer dry season. The temperature ranged from 18 C (64 F) at night to around (a very cool) 25 C (77 F) during the day. It tends to be cooler in certain areas of the country, like the northwestern town of Gisenyi.
What to wear in Rwanda
There are no dressing restrictions in Rwanda. If you like cooler weather, you can get away with summer clothing in Rwanda all year round. Just bring a light cardigan and a few pairs of pants for the occasional extra cold day.
Getting around in Rwanda
The most common means of transportation in Rwanda are motorcycles. Both the motorcyclists and their passengers have to wear helmets, so at least it feels a bit safer.
You can also get a taxi, but those are super expensive. Flag down one of the YEGO taxis, or reach out to me for our taxi guy’s number! He worked with this VW rideshare company and was super reliable (with really nice cars), if a bit pricey.
We found it challenging to get around in Rwanda because we didn’t use motorcycles, but I know so many people (tourists included) who used them regularly. So if you’re not averse to motorbikes, you can try them.
Where to Stay in Rwanda
There are a ton of accommodation options in Rwanda, especially Kigali. We considered this AirBnB, actually stayed at this lodge for one night (read my review before you book!), and spent most of our stay at the Park Inn by Radisson and Convention Centre Kigali.
See my full review of our three Kigali stays.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to other common questions about travel to Rwanda.
Can US citizens get a Rwanda visa on arrival?
Yes, but you’ll need to pay for it at the airport in Rwanda. Single-entry visas cost $50 per person and multiple-entry visas cost $70. If you’re planning a trip to Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda, consider getting the East African Tourist visa ($109). Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need to make Kenya your first stop with this visa.
Is Rwanda safe for Westerners?
Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world, in my opinion. We felt incredibly safe the entire time we were there, and it was obvious the residents felt safe too.
Our expatriate friends say they feel 100% safe there, and our Rwandan friend said people walk around the country at all hours.
There’s a heavy (but friendly) police presence throughout the country–even in rural areas. The police are friendly and always willing to help with directions and any questions you may have.
Do I need malaria pills for Rwanda?
You probably don’t. There are mosquitoes in Rwanda, but if you stay at a good hotel or AirBnB, they should have mosquito nets which will keep you safe for the most part. But if you want to be on the safe side, there’s no harm in being extra cautious.
Are Ziploc bags allowed in Rwanda?
You can bring them in (I did!), but don’t leave them in Rwanda. Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda–and have been for the last 20+ years. You could get arrested and fined if you’re caught disposing of plastic bags. I took all three of my Ziploc bags back home with me!
Safe Travels to Rwanda!
Rwanda is aptly known for having a thousand hills. It is a beautiful country with breathtaking scenery and an impressive nature portfolio. There’s no need to worry about safety in Rwanda. Just bring your spirit of adventure and be willing to travel!