Our frequently asked questions about travel to Rwanda. If you have any other questions, please contact your travel designer or concierge.
You are STRONGLY advised to take out your own medical and travel insurance before coming to Rwanda, as medical facilities are basic, and an evacuation may be required for more serious ailments than can be treated in Kigali. In case a medical evacuation is required, an evacuation from Kigali can be arranged. Please note that medical evacuation cover (to Nairobi) is included in the price of your tour.
Domestic flights – weight restrictions
Please note that when packing for your trip to Africa, it is extremely important to note that there are strict weight restrictions enforced by the airlines. This is to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers on board. Light aircraft are designed with a maximum body weight and luggage weight allowance in mind, and are limited to physical space restrictions.
Luggage should be kept to a minimum, and is best restricted to one main soft-sided piece and an overnight bag. Kigali hotels will often provide storage facilities but please check with us in advance so that this service can be arranged. Clients on flying safaris should note that weight restrictions apply, which vary according to the aircraft.
Please inform us in advance if anyone travelling has an individual weight of more than 100kgs (220lbs) as additional weight allowance on the aircraft must be purchased for safety and comfort.
Do I need any vaccinations before I go away to Rwanda?
Please seek professional medical advice and recheck close to the date of travel as the situation may change. A yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers over 1 year old. What is recommended for all is that you ensure you are up to date with hepatitis A and B, typhoid and routine immunisations – specifically tetanus-diphtheria, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, and varicella.
Do I need to take malaria tablets?
Malaria is prevalent in throughout Rwanda so you will need to take the currently effective prophylactic prescribed. We recommend you bring some mosquito spray.
Should I bring travellers cheques?
Cash is more easily exchanged in Rwanda, as many facilities are very reluctant to accept payment by travellers cheque. Please do not sign your travellers cheques in advance, as it is the practice in Rwanda for suppliers to request customers to affix their second signature in their presence. Credit cards are not generally accepted, except at the main hotels in Kigali, and we recommend that you have enough cash to complete any transactions you may wish to carry out. Please note that of all credit cards, Visa would be the one most widely accepted.
Which currency should I bring?
The currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan franc. There are money-changing facilities in Kigali, which we recommend you to use, as it is more difficult to change money while on safari. We recommend that you carry cash for convenience and security, and that you change about US$200-300 of this into Rwanda francs at the start of your tour.
We tend to advise that if they are carrying US Dollar Cash with you, the notes should be no smaller than $100 denomination to ease conversion into local currency at a beneficial rate, and should all have been issued no earlier than 2006 to avoid rejection.
Do I need to get a visa?
To enter Rwanda you need a visa. 30-day tourist visas are available on arrival for between $30 – $60. You can pay in cash (sterling or US dollars) or by Visa/Mastercard. Payment by credit card may not be available at all land border crossings.
This can always change, and you should check with your local embassy before travel.
Please also ensure that you have sufficient blank visa pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport, with at least two consecutive/side by side blank pages. Our recommendation is three pages (or even four if you are travelling through more than one country on your journey). If there is insufficient space in your passport then entry into a country could be denied. It is also important that your passport if valid for at least six months after your intended departure.
It is vital that you take out valid comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical repatriation, cancellation and curtailment for you trip to Africa. This gives you peace of mind that you will not lose money should you be forced to cancel your trip due to illness before you travel or during your vacation.
Please ensure that your insurance covers you for medical evacuation and repatriation both internationally and locally, and we could advise that your policy covers loss and theft of your possessions.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all aspects of your vacation. You must ensure that you will be covered for activities such as walking, rafting, canoeing and horse riding.
Remember to carry your insurance details with you at all times.
Most camps and lodges have laundry facilities, provided you have sufficient time to allow for drying and ironing. Some properties charge a nominal fee for this (some include it). As laundry in lodges is generally done by hand, we suggest that you wash your own underwear.
Electrical plugs in Africa
The electricity supply in Rwanda is 230-240 volts and those from the United States should bring electrical appliance adapters with them. Please note that all electrical wall outlets in Rwanda are two-pin, so ideally you should bring a two-pin to three-pin adapter with you.
In Rwanda there are 10 habituated gorilla groups in Volcanoes National Park, with a maximum of 8 tracking permits per group per day. Permits are not attributed to specific gorilla groups at the time of purchase, but groups are allocated on the day at the Park Headquarters.
You will not be able to track the gorillas if you are unwell, as gorillas are highly susceptible to human illnesses. If you suspect that you have a contagious illness such as a common cold, influenza or diarrhoea, please report to the guide at the park headquarters. There is a good chance that you will be refunded the cost of your gorilla permit. If you do not disclose your illness, and the guide detects it, you will be barred from tracking, and your permit price will definitely not be refunded.
Tracking conditions can vary greatly according to the location of the gorillas. It is entirely possible that you will find the gorillas quite quickly and be back at your hotel for lunch; or you could face a three or four hour hike (sometimes even longer) each way.
It is important to be in good physical condition, as you are likely to find yourself climbing up steep slopes at high altitudes, scrambling through, over, and under dense undergrowth with nettles, barbed vines, and bamboo thickets and crossing slippery and muddy terrain. Correct footwear and clothing are essential!
A general level of basic fitness is normally recommended for Gorilla tracking. It is not recommended to go gorilla tacking if you have any kind of heart or back problem. Travellers who are concerned about their general fitness levels, or have certain medical conditions and/or physical disabilities should advise us of their situation at the time of booking (or at the time such a situation occurs should this be after the reservation is made).
We have a purpose-built ‘off road’ sedan chair that can be used to transport someone to the location of the gorillas if you are found to have a significant disability. So please do let us know your requirements when you enquire and we will do our best to help.
It is not currently compulsory to wear face masks when visiting the gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda.
However, wearing masks can reduce the high risk of infecting gorillas with human diseases – something to which they are highly susceptible.
With this in mind, we kindly ask our travellers to wear a mask when visiting the gorillas.
It is a huge privilege to see these animals in their natural environment, but for this to continue, we must do so responsibly.
Perhaps when you are there, you will inspire other travellers to also wear a mask. If the Ugandan and Rwandan governments can be convinced that it will not negatively affect tourism, they will be more likely to enforce mask-wearing as a rule. It is already compulsory in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park.
‘Wearing masks is not an inconvenience: it is a simple step to safeguard the health of critically endangered mountain gorillas.’ – Dan Bucknell, Executive Director of Tusk.
‘Wearing masks when visiting the critically endangered gorillas ensures the best protection from our human diseases.’ – Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, Founder of Conservation Through Public Health.
‘A simple human sneeze travels seven metres, and gorillas have no immunity to the bugs we routinely pick up on the plane over. Wearing a mask is cool – and looks great on your Facebook profile!’ – Jillian Miller, Executive Director at The Gorilla Organization.