Landlocked East African Rwanda has had a troubled recent history. Now however, the scars are thankfully healing and Rwanda is firmly back on the travel map.
Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is a land of great natural beauty and a superb ecotourism destination. Most people come here to see the silverback mountain gorillas made famous by the film Gorillas in the Mist.
When you’re not tracking animals, partying in Kigali, watching Intore dancers in Virunga or trekking to volcanoes, enjoy just hanging out with the warm and friendly Rwandans themselves.
You’ll need a permit to go gorilla tracking in Rwanda. They can sell out months in advance so book as far ahead as you can. Tour operators can do this for you. If you’re travelling independently either ask a reliable local tour operator to help.
The main dry season is between June and September with a shorter, unpredictable one from December to early March. The dry seasons are excellent times to visit the gorillas, as mosquito activity is at a minimum and the volcanic tracks can get quite muddy during the rains. October and November, when fruits ripen, is a good time to look for chimpanzees.
Kigali International Airport (KGL) – 13km from the city
From the central minibus station in Kigali, swarms of minibuses inexpensively ply Rwanda. There is no rail service. There are a handful of internal flights and in Kigali there are several places where you can rent a car. Rwanda is great for mountain-bikers although you’ll need to bring your own bike and spares.
Rwanda has international standard hotels in the major towns. Mid-range hotels and guesthouses are generally available elsewhere. Homestays are on the up and are a great way to meet local people. Campsites are limited.
Thanks to its Belgian colonisers, Rwanda does great chips: Western-influenced restaurants often serve them with simply with chicken, steak or fish.
Local favourites include goat kebabs, bean and meat stews, chapatti, matoke (plantain) and ugali (maize porridge). The drink of choice is sweet, milky tea; popular alcoholic beverages include beer and waragi, a clear, millet-based Ugandan spirit.
Check you are up to date with vaccinations and speak to your GP about malaria prophylaxis. Don't drink the tap water. Rwanda is relatively hassle-free and friendly.
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