Here are a few tips on issues relating to safari travel in Rwanda
Passports and visas
All visitors are required to be carrying a valid passport with at least six months remaining between the date of departure from the country and the date of expiration and sufficient blank pages for stamps and visas.
Travellers holding passports from the following countries do not require a visa ... Burundi, DR Congo, Germany, Hong Kong, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, USA.
All visitors not requiring a visa are supposed to fill in an entry facility application form on the website www.migration.gov.rw and submit it online. Customs officials will usually have a copy of this form on their desk when you arrive, which speeds up the process. Although this is in theory obligatory, guests who have not submitted this form in advance have still been able to enter the country, although sometimes with a slight delay whilst alternative forms are completed.
For those requiring a visa, we strongly recommended that you obtain this in advance as some international airlines will not let you board without it. Applications can be submitted online at the following website and the process should take about a week. Refer to the links below.
You do not need to take additional passport photos with you.
If you are asked on your Visa Application or Entry Certificate for 'local contact details', you can simply put the details of your first lodge and the phone number provided on your confirmation paperwork.
Be sure that you passport is stamped with the correct departure date or you could encounter serious problems.
We cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of this information. Please be sure to check for updates from the relevant authorities ...
London : for UK and Europe ... www.rwandahc.org
Washington : North, Central and South America ... www.rwandaembassy.org
Please note that getting a visa on arrival can involve waiting in line for a period, which can be quite tedious after a long flight. You may therefore consider using a specialist agency to help you get your visa in advance, although there is an additional cost involved. Our customers from the US particularly recommend ... www.travisa.com
The currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc. Approximate exchange rate : $US 1 = RWF 600. This cannot usually be exchanged back into hard currency, so whatever you change you will have to either spend, give away or take home.
It is worth noting that your on-the-ground expenditure in most parts of Africa should not be as high as you might be used on other trips since all of your accommodation is pre-paid, with many of your meals and activities also being included.
We recommend taking a modest amount of cash US$, a small proportion of which you can change into local currency. Then back this up with debit and credit cards.
Virtually all major cash payments can be settled in US$. Note that some US$ banknotes may not be accepted due to the high levels of counterfeit currency in circulation in Africa. We recommend that you only travel with US$ bills dated 2006 or later.
A small amount of RWF can come in handy for small purchases at roadside stalls and stores. Exchanging US$ for RWF is possible in most locations, although exchange rates will vary. Larger, newer and better condition US$ bills generally attract a better exchange rate.
Other hard currencies can be used, notably Euro, although may be subject to more unfavourable rates of exchange.
Credit and debit cards are now accepted at most major stores and lodges and can be used to make payments. Virtually all locations charge a significant premium for using a card, 5% to 10% is common, higher rates in excess of 25% can be encountered.
Travellers checks are no longer widely accepted.
It may be significantly easier and cheaper to carry cash, but this does obviously heighten the risk of loss or theft. Refer to the section on crime for more information.
There are very few cash machines or ATM's, except in the major urban centres, where banks can also be found.
If you ever run out of money, then your safari operator or lodge owner should be able to bail you out, with our assistance where necessary.
When trying to assess exactly how much cash to take, most people seem to settle on somewhere between US$50 and US$200 per person per day. The more you take, the more you are likely to bring back home with you. It is more a case of how much you feel comfortable carrying. Note that your largest expenditure is likely to be tips, which could exceed US$25 per person per day.
Generally speaking Rwanda is a safe place to visit, although travellers should make themselves aware of any issues.
Socket outlets are almost universally the European two round pin variety, although you may also encounter South African three round pin sockets, both 230V/50Hz.
Most good lodges provide universal adaptors, although we always recommend bringing your own.
Safety when travelling in Africa ...
International travellers to Africa who take suitable precautions rarely encounter serious health issues, but you really do need to take care and be aware. There are some very serious issues covered in our health section, most notably the need to have adequate vaccinations and to take prophylaxis pills against malaria.
This issues is specific to trekkers on Kilimanjaro, but is so serious that it features highly in this list. Of the 30,000 who trek Kilimanjaro each year, we estimate that between 5 to 10 people die each year from altitude sickness, which means that the chances of death are around 1 in 4500. Please refer to the Mount Kilimanjaro page for details.
We usually hear of around one fatal road crash every two years. We therefore estimate that the chances of being involved in such an incident are around 1 in 60,000. Read more in our section on road safety.
We usually hear of around one fatal animal attack every two years. We therefore estimate that the chances of being involved in such an incident are around 1 in 70,000. Read more in our section on animal attacks.
We usually hear of around one fatal air crash every two years. We therefore estimate that the chances of being involved in such an incident are around 1 in 20,000. Read more in our section on air safety.
Snakes and insects
We are commonly asked what are the chances of being bitten by a venomous snake in Africa? The answer is extremely low. We usually hear of around one fatal snake bite every three to five years. We therefore estimate that the chances of being involved in such an incident are around 1 in 100,000. Read more in our section on snake bites.
On the other hand, the chances of getting bitten by insects is much higher and, if you do not take suitable precautions, the consequences can be just as serious.
Contrary to commonly held pre-conceptions, crime is no more of a problem in most of Africa than it is in many other parts of the world. But it is something of which you need to be aware and act accordingly. Read more in our crime section.
On the other hand, hustle is something you are likely to be exposed to at regular intervals on your trip, although this tends to be of such an non threatening and even positive and rather charming nature.
This risk is specific to desert areas, notably in Namibia, where self-drive travellers turn off the main routes, get lost or break down and end up dying of thirst. It sounds like a pretty extraordinary way to go, but we hear of such incidents about once every five years, which means that the risk of dying in this way is probably around 1 in 50,000.
The ways to reduce this risk are pretty obvious ... don't wander off the main roads without advising people exactly where you are going and when to expect you, only travel on the most remote routes in convoy and hire a satellite phone for emergency communication.