FridayÂ newslettersÂ always feature luxury travelÂ contests,Â tips,Â series, orÂ news.
Today (February 15, 2019):Â Travel series: a travel guide to Rwanda.
My travel blog features a section that comprises a selection of destination & travel guides. You can find these travel guides under ‘destinations‘ in the blogâs header menu (indicated by the blue arrow in the screenshot below).
I hope these online travel guides â based on my own travel experiences â may help you to getÂ the mostÂ outÂ of your (luxury) trips. So far, I have published travel guides on the following destinations:
- South Africa
- West Canada & Rockies
- Sri Lanka
Today, I am adding a new travel guide to my blog about Rwanda.Â Situated at the heart of the Albertine Rift, Rwanda is one of Africaâs most biodiverse regions and a haven of rainforest endemism. TheÂ extraordinarily beautiful, small country is home to more than one third of the worldâs remaining mountain gorillas, who live in the high-altitude cloud forestsÂ of the iconic Virunga Massif.Â A densely-populated country with most people living in rural areas, Rwanda has shown great courage inÂ recovering from the memory of the horrible 1994 genocide. Today, Rwanda is a stable, well-run and peacefully united country that ranks among Africa’s safest destiations.Â The optimistic energy of the people has earned their country the moniker âRemarkable Rwandaâ and it regularly features on âmust-visitâ lists.
GetÂ the mostÂ outÂ of your (luxury) trip to Rwanda with my travel guide. Find out more about:
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
- Travel requirements
- Getting around
- Inspiration, highlights, & travel tips
- Suggested itineraries
- Recommended luxury hotels (+ reviews)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
In the heart of Africa, just south of the equator,Â Rwandaâs relatively high altitude provides it with a remarkably pleasant tropical highland climate, albeit also with plenty of rain.Â Although itâs regarded as a year-round activity, there are quite some some differences in the weather patterns throughout the year.
- TheÂ best time to visitÂ RwandaÂ is during the short dry season from mid-December toÂ FebruaryÂ or over the long dry season months ofÂ June to September. These periods offer by far the easiest hiking conditions (for gorilla trekking) and the lowest malaria risk. The dry season does not necessarily means sunny season asÂ there is often a light cloud cover, which helps to moderate the temperatures.
- Rwandaâs long rainy season lasts from aboutÂ March to May, when the rain is heavy and persistent. This is by far the worst period of the year to visit the country as walking trails are extremely muddy. October to mid-DecemberÂ is defined asÂ Rwandaâs short rainy season, and during this time you may encounter occasional light showers, mainly in the afternoon.Â Rwandaâs rainy season has one advantage: itâs the best season for spotting chimpanzees as they are easier to locate (in the dry season, when food is harder to find, the chimpanzees often withdraw far into the jungleâs interior).
HOW TO GET THERE
Most travelers arrive inÂ RwandaÂ via Kigali International Airport, theÂ main gateway for all destinations in the country. More and more airlines now offer direct flights toÂ Kigali, including KLM, Brussels Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines andÂ Rwandaâs national proud, its flagship carrierÂ Rwandair.Â ClickÂ hereÂ for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Kigali.
Itâs also possible to arrive inÂ RwandaÂ overland as part of a multi-country itinerary.Â RwandaÂ is bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west.Â Visiting Congo and Burundi is off limits these days (due toÂ unpredictable security situation and the potential for violent civil unrest), but theÂ land border crossings with Uganda and Tanzania are open and many tourists combine these countries with Rwanda in one single holiday.Â
Before you buy a plane ticket, consider reading myÂ tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket.Â
RequirementsÂ forÂ entryÂ intoÂ RwandaÂ differ from country to country, and are subject to change. Prior to departure, always check with your government and your nearestÂ Rwandan embassy or consulate what documents you need for travel to Rwanda.
- You need a validÂ passport.Â The passport must be validÂ for six months afterÂ entryÂ into the country. You need one blank page on your passport for entry stamps.
- You need a visa to enterÂ Rwanda. 30 day tourist visas are available on arrival for $30 USD. You can pay in cash (sterling, US dollars orÂ Rwandan francs) or by Visa/Mastercard. Payment by credit card may not be available at all land border crossings.Â
Make sure you read myÂ 10 tips to plan a worry-free trip.
It’s pretty easy and straightforward to get around in the small country ofÂ Rwanda, with most places of interest located within a few hours drive from the capital Kigali.Â RwandaÂ has one of the best road systems in Africa, with a well maintained network of paved two-lane roads. The only gravel roads youâll encounter are those in the more remote areas or within the national parks.
- When you book a trip toÂ Rwanda, youâre most likely to do so via a tour operator that will arrange aÂ driverÂ who doubles as an informal guide. Most tourists inÂ RwandaÂ explore the countryâs three National Parks (Akagera, Volcanoes and Nyungwe) with a driver in a four-wheel drive vehicle. For my own travels, I used Uber Luxe Safaris and I was extremely happy with their service (I highly recommend them).
- If you are on a budget, you may consider public transport (e.g. privately run buses andÂ well-maintained, modern minibuses),Â which is more organized than elsewhere in East Africa, with regular, scheduled departures.Â Most towns are small enough to negotiate by foot, but both Kigali and Butare sprawl over several steep hills – youâll need to catch a minibus or a taxi to get around.
- If you have money to burn, private flight and helicopter transfers are also available (and can be arranged via your tour operator or lodge).
INSPIRATION, HIGHLIGHTS & TRAVEL TIPS
There are many reasons whyÂ RwandaÂ should be on your bucket list:
- Track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
- Observe chimpanzees in the wild at Nyungwe National Park
- Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial
- Unwind at Lake Kivu
- Take a tour of a tea or coffee plantation
- Go on safari in Akagera National Park
- Climb a volcano
- Hike to Dian Fossey’s tomb
- Learn aboutÂ Rwandan culture at Butare’s Ethnographic Museum
- Stay at Hotel Des Mille Collines (HotelÂ Rwanda)
The following, comprehensive articles may also inspire you and help you plan your holiday toÂ Rwanda:
- Top 10 best things to do inÂ Rwanda
- Tips & tricks for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel
- Tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket
Rwanda is a small country and it’s easy to explore all of its highlight within a short time frame. I suggest the following one week itinerary inÂ Rwanda:
- Day 1 & 2: arrival & exploration of Kigali (including tour of the Genocide Memorial).
- Recommended hotels: Kigali Serena Hotel, Marriott Hotel, or Radison Blue Hotel
- Day 3 & 4: 3 hour drive to Akagera National Park, and exploration of the park (home to the Big Five) by game drives and boat.
- Recommended lodge: Magashi Camp by Wilderness Safaris
- Day 5 & 6: 5 hour drive to Volcanoes National Park, with gorilla tracking the next day
- Recommended hotels: Bisate Lodge by Wilderness Safaris, One&Only Gorillas Camp, or Singita Kwitonda
- Day 7 & 8: 6 hour drive along Lake Kivu to Nyungwe National Park, with a capony walk in the rainforest and chimps tracking the next day.
- Recommended hotel: One&Only Nyungwe House
If you have more time, I highly recommend to spend some additional nights to unwind in Volcanoes National Park and/or Nyungwe National Park.
RECOMMENDED LUXURY HOTELS (+ REVIEWS)
Below, you find my reviews of hotels in Rwanda (with pros, cons, & tips to save money per hotel).
- Review: Kigali Serena Hotel (Rwanda)
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