Rwanda is regarded as a mountainous country bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The capital is Kigali, which is near the Centre of the country. Rwanda is landlocked but has many lakes. Mountains dominate the Centre and west, while the east consists of savanna, plains, and swamps.
Rwanda lies a few degrees south of the Equator and it’s extremely covered by grasslands and small farms extending over rolling hills, with areas of rugged mountains that extend southeast from a chain of volcanoes in the northwest. This is divided between the Congo and Nile drainage systems extending from north to south through western Rwanda at an average elevation of almost 2 750 m. On the western slopes of this ridgeline, the land slopes abruptly toward Lake Kivu, one of the Great Lakes and the Ruzizi River valley, which form the western boundary with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) and constitute part of the Great Rift Valley The eastern slopes are more moderate, with rolling hills extending across central uplands at gradually reducing altitudes, to the plains, swamps and lakes of the eastern border region.
The lowest altitude point in Rwanda is the Ruzizi River, at 950 m, and the highest is Mount Karisimbi, at 4,507 m.
Rwanda experiences a tropical climate this varies in respect to altitude. The hottest months of the year in Rwanda are November, January and March, temperature rise up to 300 Celsius. The rainy months are April, May, September and December with the wettest month being May. As a result of higher altitude Rwanda experiences more cold weather, the best times are December-March and June-September. The daily temperatures in Rwanda varies from between 21°C and 30°C especially in the mountainous areas they can go down to 10°C in some months
The government of Rwanda is elected in a multi-party general election. Rwanda elections are normally held every seven years. The current government of Rwanda is led by President Paul Kagame, who was elected in the recently in Late 2017 General Election.
Rwanda is a country well blessed with its natural biodiversity. Her greatest wildlife lies within her 3 National parks of Parc Volcanoes, Nyungwe National Park and Akagera National Park. Nyungwe, the largest tract of forest, contains 200 species of tree as well as orchids and begonias. Vegetation in the Volcanoes National Park is mostly bamboo and moorland, with small areas of forest. Akagera, by contrast, has a savanna ecosystem in which acacia is the dominant flora. Some plant species are endemic to Akagera.
The greatest diversity of large mammals is found in the three National Parks, which are designated conservation areas. Akagera contains typical savanna animals such as giraffes and elephants, while Volcanoes is home to an estimated one third of the worldwide mountain gorilla population.
Nyungwe Forest boasts thirteen primate species including chimpanzees and Ruwenzori colobus arboreal monkeys, which move in troops of up to 400 individuals. Rwanda brings to record 670 bird species in Rwanda, with variation between the east and the west. Nyungwe Forest, in the west, has 280 recorded species, of which 26 are endemic to the Albertine Rift; endemic species include the Ruwenzori Turaco and Handsome Francolin. Eastern Rwanda, by contrast, features savanna birds such as the Black-headed Gonolek and those associated with swamps and lakes, including storks and Pied Kingfishers. Rwanda boast a diversified range of tourism activities including the most amazing adventure of Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee trekking, Cultural-community visits, Guided nature walks, Dian Fossey visits, genocide tours, Kigali city tour, Game viewing especially in the Nyungwe and Akagera Parks, Bird watching, Mt. Climbing especially Karisimbi and Karisoke among other great safari activities
Rwanda provides among the best hotels and accommodation establishments within the East African region. Rwanda’s hotels and Lodge are classified from budget (1 Star Hotels), mid-range (3 Star) and Luxury Hotels (4 Star & 5 Star). A number of lodges, Resorts, apartments, Guest Houses are well established to enable visitors enjoy their stay. Tourists pay in US Dollars except for the smaller guesthouses where the local people pay Rwandan Franc are acceptable. Not all of the small town hotels are equipped to take travelers cheques or credit cards so it is best you travel with some cash. Some ‘extra’s’ will be added onto your bill, unlike in Kigali most hotels accept credit cards and Traveler’s cheque and upon use of this method a service charge is always charged.
Visitors going to Rwanda are advised always to take and remember viable cautions while on the safari. Most wild animals have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild animals and therefore always to keep a distance away from them as they can charge against them at any moment and cause damage or loss of human life. It is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract their attention, or to agitate and scare an animal, or deviate from designated roads for that closer photograph. Never get out of your vehicle except at designated area for game and wildlife viewing.
Security in Rwanda
Rwanda is ranked the safest region in East Africa but tourist are advise always to be quite awake when walking around carrying anything valuable. As in all countries petty theft, including pickpockets is around in some places especially within the city centers.
Kinyarwanda, French, and English are the official languages. However, since the 1994 genocide, the complications of relations with the current French government, the return of numerous Tutsi refugees who went to Uganda (Anglophone), and also the intervention of the United States, English has been used by more of the population and administration.
Health in Rwanda
Rwanda is doing very well in terms of health as professional doctors and dentists are readily spread and made available throughout various regions of the country, the major hospitals are located in the main towns. Bring any special medication you may need, and carry medical insurance. Most chemists in the major towns are open from 08h30 to 12h30 and 14h00 to 17h00 Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays. There are no emergency chemists open after hours or Sundays. As Rwanda lies in a malaria zone, visitors should also take prophylactics against malaria although the best way to avoid catching malaria is to avoid bites by using mosquito repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net. For your own comfort take a mosquito repellent. Mosquito nets are provided in most hotels, lodges and camps. Precautions should be taken against malaria both when visitors are in the country, and when they return home. It is advisable to drink only boiled or bottled water and avoid swimming in ponds and still water pools.
Visitors from or passing through a yellow fever and cholera zone (most of tropical Africa and South America) may be able to produce a valid International Certificate of Vaccination. Air travelers who only pass through the airports of such a zone are exempt from the requirement. It is also advised that all travelers be vaccinated against Meningitis, Typhoid and Hepatitis.
Tourist are advised to purchased medical covers before you leave your own country and should include emergency air evacuation coverage if you’re spending any time in remote parts of the country. There are some medical rescue organizations available. It is advisable that clients purchase the necessary health insurance for themselves. The company will not be held liable for sickness of a client as a direct or indirect consequence of traveling. Clients must have, and demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour. Such insurance should fully cover death; personal injury; loss; accident; medical expenses; repatriation in the case of accident, illness or death; cancellation or curtailment of the tour by the company or client; and loss of, damage to, or theft of the clients’ personal property. Activities with a greater inherent risk, such as mountaineering, animal tracking, water rafting, swimming in lakes, should be covered.
Money & Banking in Rwanda
Rwanda, especially the great city of Kigali is well serviced with a few international banks, such as Stanbic, and a few modern local ones such as the Bank of Rwanda and the Bank de Kigali. The unit of currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF). Coins in this currency are in the following denominations: 10, 20, 50, 100; and notes in some of the following denominations: 500, 1000, 5000, 10000 in circulation concurrently with British Pounds Sterling, US Dollars, German Marks (rare), Swiss Francs (rare), French Francs, Euro, Japanese Yen (rare), SA Rand notes.
Driving In Rwanda
It is a must for all Visitors intend to take own discoveries in Rwanda to hold an International Drivers License. New residents are required to pass a driving test. It is unlawful for any driver to drive in Rwanda under the influence of alcohol. Rwanda drives on the right-hand side of the road.
Getting to Rwanda
Through the international gateways Kanombe, Rwanda’s international airport is about 5km away from Kigali. Several international and regional carriers, including SN Brussels, Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian airlines operate regular flights to Kanombe. International Carriers SN Brussels flies four times a week from Brussels direct to Entebbe. British Airways flies three times a week from London, Gatwick. International carriers to Kigali (Kanombe, the main airport) include SN Brussels which flies three times a week. From USA, there are flights to Entebbe and Kigali via London or Brussels, or alternatively clients can fly from New York or Atlanta to Johannesburg with South African Airways and then take a connecting flight. Operating airlines connecting Kigali from the rest of the world include:- Ethiopian Airways provides connections from Addis Ababa. Kenya Airways flies daily from Nairobi. South African Airways provides connections with Dar-es- Salaam and Johannesburg. Egypt flies weekly from Cairo, only to Entebbe. East African Air provides connections from Nairobi, and Johannesburg. Air Tanzania and of recent joined by Air Uganda from Uganda providing connection Kampala. Rwanda Air, the National airline operates from Kigali connecting to Johannesburg, Nairobi to the rest of the African countries major cities
Rwanda honors a number of public holidays that hold much significancies on which offices, including banks and diplomatic missions, may not open: New Year’s Day (1st Jan); Good Friday (variable); Easter Monday (variable); Democracy’s Day (28 January); Genocide Commemoration Day (4 April); Labour Day (1st May); Independence Day (1 July); ‘Kamaramkapa’/Abolition of the monarchy Day (25 September); All Saints Day (1 November); Christmas Day (25th December); Boxing Day (26th December); Idd-el-Fitr (variable); Iddi Adhuha (variable).