Safari in Rwanda and trek amongst striking volcanoes and the original gorillas in the mist

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With volcanoes, rainforests and rivers, and some of the rarest primates in the world, Rwanda has been blessed with its natural beauty. 'The land of 1000 hills' is set at altitude as lush green adorns its sweeping slopes before disappearing high into misty peaks.

Amongst the steamy summits is Rwanda's biggest draw - gorillas. The bamboo forest of Parc National de Volcans has become a haven for the giant primates with over half of the world's mountain gorillas residing in the park.

It's the experience of a lifetime for wildlife enthusiasts to trek and be among these graceful giants in their natural habitat. It's here that eminent anthropologist, Dian Fossey, chronicled 'Gorillas in the Mist' and it's the best place to see the creatures still thriving today.

Rwanda also boasts one of the best preserved rainforests in Africa. Nyungwe Forest is home to several primates including chimps and endangered golden monkeys, with their orange hue and fur-puffed eyebrows. The rainforest has towering canopies of mahogany and ebony, but for adventurers wishing to get a little closer, the park offers a number of canopy walks, the highest of which is some 50 metres up.

If your head for heights - and adventure - goes even higher, then a trek through the Virunga Volcano range might sate your appetite. Consisting of eight volcanic peaks (two of which remain active), even from base camp this hardy climb will offer fantastic vistas of Rwanda's natural beauty.

Check the exciting regions and itineraries we are able to offer you below.

parcnationaldesvolcans

In the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans, home to the volcanoes, protects the steep slopes of the Virungas, a magnificent mountain range, and is home to the rare mountain gorilla.

chimps_&_gorillas

5 Nights

A five-night itinerary in Rwanda, combining a visit to chimps in the Nyungwe National Park and gorillas in the Parc National de Volcans. Both experiences are amazing and not to be missed.

gorillas_in_the_wild

3 Nights

This safari takes you on a tour of Parc National de Volcans and experience a journey through the beautiful terraced hillside that characterises much of Rwanda's landscape. Climb the base of the awesome Virunga volcanoes.

Map

Despite its proximity to the equator, the climate in Rwanda is cooled by the high altitude. It is warm throughout most of the country but cooler in the mountains. There are two rainy seasons: mid January to April and mid October to mid December. Lightweights are required for most of the year with warmer clothes for cooler upland evenings. Rainwear is advisable.
PassportPassport RequiredVisa RequiredReturn Ticket
Required
Other EU Yes Yes Yes
USA Yes Yes Yes
Canadian Yes Yes Yes
Australian Yes Yes Yes
British Yes Yes Yes

A passport valid for six months from the date of entry is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above to enter Rwanda. Visas for Rwanda are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above. Nationals of Australia, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the USA can purchase a visa on arrival. All other nationals listed in the chart must obtain a visa in advance. All travellers require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travellers who are also visiting Kenya and Uganda may find it more useful to apply for an East Africa cross-border joint visa which allows entry into all three countries on a single visa. Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Rwanda. A single-entry visa on arrival is also available to nationals who do not have a Rwandan embassy or consulate in their country. If this applies to you,visit www.migration.gov.rwto request a visa online. Transit visas are valid for 72 hours. Visa on arrival (if eligible): US$30. Single-entry visa: 23; multiple-entry visa: 40; tourist visa: 40;East African tourist visa: 77. Visa on arrival/single-entry visa: 30 days; multiple-entry/tourist visa: 90 days; East Africa tourist visa: multiple entries within three months. Consulate (or consular section at embassy/high commission) or online viawww.migration.gov.rw. Allow three days for visa processing. All visa applicants must be able to show proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay. If you wish to extend your visa, you must apply to the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration in Kigali before your current visa expires. You are given a period of grace whereby you can leave the country up to five days after your visa expires without penalty. Beyond five days, you risk paying a fine and being refused a further visa.

Health PrecausionSpecial PrecautionCertificate
Yellow Fever Yes
Typhoid Yes
Tetanus Yes
Rabies Sometimes
Malaria Yes
Hepatitis A Yes
Diphtheria Yes
Medical facilities are severely limited and extremely overburdened. Almost all medical facilities in Kigali were destroyed during the civil war, but the situation is now improving and most hospitals function to an acceptable level. However, medical insurance, including cover for emergency repatriation, is essential. Visitors are advised to bring their own personal medication. In emergency dial 912 for an ambulance.
Country Code: . The country code is 250. There are no area codes. As mobile phones become more popular, landlines are becoming disused. If you want to contact home more than a couple of times it is best to get a local SIM - do check that you can use it to make international calls. You sometimes have to activate the message centre in order to send texts, again check when you buy the SIM. Handsets are cheap at about 10 and local SIM cards are widely available from street vendors and shops. The two main mobile providers are MTN and Tigo. To make an international call you need to dial 000 before the country code (instead of the usual 00). Both international texts and calls from local mobiles are much cheaper than the roaming charges. Wireless internet is now available throughout the country, either by using a dongle, which can be purchased in Kigali and other major towns, or by using hotspots. MTN hotspots are widespread and you can access them using your mobile phone credit if you have bought an MTN SIM card. There are also many internet cafes in Kigali and other large towns. Most of the media is state-owned and there is limited press freedom. The main newspaper is the New Times and the regional East African is also widely distributed. International newspapers may be found in upmarket hotels and copies of Time and The Economist are sold by street vendors. Many of Rwanda's broadcasters are government-owned. The first private radio station was launched in 2004. Airmail to Western Europe takes approximately two weeks.

(Kigali) Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1400-1700, Sat 0800-1200. There is a growing number of English-language newspapers such as The New Times, Rwanda Herald and Rwanda Newsline. Umesco is a Kinyarwanda-language publication. Publications in French or Kinyarwanda are fortnightly or quarterly. Radio Rwanda is state owned and operates in English, French, Kinyarwanda and Swahili.
Private radio stations include Radio 10, Flash FM, Contact FM, City Radio, Radio Izuba and Radio Maria.
Hotels generally serve a reasonable choice of European dishes, while there are Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern restaurants. Some restaurants also serve Franco-Belgian cuisine and African dishes. A fairly good selection of beers, spirits and wines is available. Beer is also brewed locally.

Tipping:
10% is normal. There are a few cinemas in Kigali. The Rwanda National Ballet is famous for its traditional dancing and singing and can be seen either at national ceremonies or sometimes on request in the villages. There are now several nightclubs, with African, Congolese and Western music; there are also some live music bars with food and dancing available. The French Cultural Centre runs a variety of activities. Special purchases include woven baskets with pointed lids, native clay statuettes, masks and charms.

Note: Do not buy souvenir gorilla skulls or hands; if they are offered, report the trader to the police.

Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0830-1300 and 1400-1730, Sat 0830-1230.
Rwanda Franc (RWF) = 100 centimes. Notes are in denominations of RWF 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of RWF100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Accepted at only a few hotels in Kigali. MasterCard and Visa are the preferred cards. It may be difficult to change traveller's cheques outside Kigali. The import and export of local currency is limited to RWF5000. The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited, but must be declared upon arrival and exchanged within 8 days. Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1400-1700, Sat 0800-1200.
1.00 GBP = 997.65 RWF
1.00 USD = 820.02 RWF
1.00 EUR = 868.21 RWF
1.00 CAD = 620.1 RWF
Currency conversion rates as of 10 January 2017
The following items may be imported into Rwanda by persons over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty: 250g of tobacco products.
1L or spirits or 2L of wine.
500ml of perfume and eau de toilette, of which up to a quarter may be perfume.
Goods up to US$500 in value. Prohibited goods include counterfeit coins and notes, pornography, matches made with white phosphorus, distilled beverages such as absinthe, soaps and cosmetics containing mercury, used tyres, and counterfeit goods. Restricted goods include animal traps, unwrought precious metals and stones, arms and ammunition, historical artefacts, ivory, rhino horn, tortoise shell, coral, and non-indigenous species of fish. Game trophies can only be exported with special permission of the Game Department.
Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2014-December 2015 period.
2016
1 Jan New Year's Day
1 Feb Heroes' Day
25 Mar Good Friday
7 Apr Genocide Memorial Day
1 May Labour Day
1 Jul Independence Day
4 Jul Liberation Day
15 Aug Assumption
1 Oct Patriotism Day
25 Dec Christmas Day
26 Dec Boxing Day

2017
1 Jan New Year's Day
1 Feb Heroes' Day
7 Apr Genocide Memorial Day
14 Apr Good Friday
1 May Labour Day
1 Jul Independence Day
4 Jul Liberation Day
15 Aug Assumption
1 Oct Patriotism Day
25 Dec Christmas Day
26 Dec Boxing Day
Central Africa. 26,338 sq km (10,169 sq miles). 12,661,733 (2015). 480.7 per sq km. Kigali. Republic. Rwanda is a small mountainous country in central Africa, bordered to the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, to the south by Burundi and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country is divided by great peaks of up to 3,000m (9,842ft), which run across the country from north to south. The Virunga volcanoes, rising steeply from Lake Kivu in the west, slope down first to a hilly central plateau and further eastwards to an area of marshy lakes around the upper reaches of the A'Kagera River, where the A'Kagera National Park is situated. The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French and English. Kiswahili is used for trade and commerce. Roman Catholic 57%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11%, Islam 5%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, none 2% GMT + 2. Unlike other African countries, Rwanda does not tolerate corruption and you are unlikely to encounter it. You will cause offence if you offer a bribe. Begging is strongly discouraged by the government and you are advised not to give money or plastic bottles to children who ask. You will not see street children in Kigali because there is a rehabilitation centre where they are sent to learn vocational skills. You will also not see litter anywhere in the country and dropping litter is frowned upon. Once a month there is a national clean-up day dedicated to the maintenance of shared areas. Eating and smoking in the street is also considered rude. 230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are most commonly used. Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi since 2014. President Paul Kagame since 2000. Domestically, the government faced a formidable task of reconstruction and reconciliation.The government, led by former army chief Paul Kagame, has a fairly impressive record under extremely difficult circumstances. The country relies heavily on western aid to sustain its economy. However, there are signs of an increasingly dictatorial attitude on the part of the government, manifested in the presidential and parliamentary elections held in the summer of 2003: amid numerous allegations of intimidation and ballot rigging, Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front won both polls with a huge majority. Given the Tutsi dominance of the RPF, there is a clear danger of a future repeat of the ethnic violence which has disfigured Rwanda since Independence.

Add to a Kenya or Tanzania safari

Gorillas In The Wild

3 Nights

This safari takes you on a tour of Parc National de Volcans and experience a journey through the beautiful terraced hillside that characterises much of Rwanda's landscape. Climb the base of the awesome Virunga volcanoes.

Read more

Chimps & Gorillas

5 Nights

A five-night itinerary in Rwanda, combining a visit to chimps in the Nyungwe National Park and gorillas in the Parc National de Volcans. Both experiences are amazing and not to be missed.

Read more

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