Rwanda Basics

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The Basics


Time: Local time is GMT +2.

Electricity: Electrical current is 230-240 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are the most commonly used.

Money: The official currency is the Rwanda Franc (RWF), which is divided into 100 centimes. The US Dollar is the hard currency of preference. Credit cards are only accepted at the major hotels and restaurants in Kigali.

Currency Exchange Rates

RWF100.00 = USD 0.11GBP 0.09CAD 0.14AUD 0.16ZAR 1.60EUR 0.10NZD 0.17
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Kinyarwanda, French, and English are the official languages. French is widely spoken, but English is limited to a few people in the tourist centres.

Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa is required and can be aquired upon arrival for a stay of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within 15 days of arrival.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa can be aquired on arrival for up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within 15 days of arrival.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa on arrival can be obtained for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. Visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa within 15 days of arrival.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. Visas can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. A visa can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 30 days for a fee. Visitors can apply to extend their visa.

Passport/Visa Note: Passport and/or passport replacing documents must be valid for at least six months beyond arrival in Rwanda for all nationalities. It is always highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. E-visas can be obtained before departure at www.migration.gov.rw . Passengers must have a printed e-visa confirmation. A valid "East African Tourist Visa" issued by Kenya or Uganda is accepted, if having first entered the country that issued the visa. The visa is valid for 90 days and multiple entries/re-entries. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There is a year-round risk of malaria throughout Rwanda and travellers are advised to take a course of prophylactics. A yellow fever certificate is required by all visitors and inoculation is also recommended. Hepatitis A and Meningococcus vaccinations are also recommended, as well as a polio booster for those who have not had one as an adult. Cholera outbreaks are not uncommon. Bottled drinking water is available in all towns. Medical facilities are limited and medical supplies may be unavailable, although hospitals are located in all major towns. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

Tipping: Tipping is not customary in most places in Rwanda, although it is appreciated. Guides on gorilla treks expect to be well tipped; amounts vary, but 10 percent is common.

Safety Information: Crime levels are relatively low in Rwanda, although tourists should be alert to bag snatching and incidents of petty theft. Travel to the border areas with Burundi and the DRC is not advised. Trips to see the gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park should only be undertaken as part of a guided trek. Rwanda is considered a low threat for terrorism, however there are reports of random grenade attacks as recently as March 2012 and travellers should be vigilant at bus stops and other public areas. The roads in major towns are good, however travel after dark is not advisable; landslides are common during the rainy season (late spring to early autumn).

Local Customs: Photography of government buildings is prohibited in Rwanda. Plastic bags have been banned for environmental reasons and will be confiscated on arrival at the airport. It is considered impolite to ask someone about their ethnic origin.

Business: A handshake is the normal form of greeting. A knowledge of French is useful as English is not widely spoken; interpreters may be required. Culturally, a direct 'no' to a proposal is rare, and negotiations are often lengthy. Lightweight suits are suitable attire for meetings, which need to be arranged in advance.

Communications: The international dialling code for Rwanda is +250. Prepaid local SIM cards can be purchased as a cheaper alternative to using international roaming. Free wifi is available at most upscale hotels and there are some internet cafes in Kigali.

Duty Free: Passengers older than 16 years may bring 250g of tobacco products, one litre of spirits, two litres of wine, and 500ml of perfume into the country without incurring import duties.