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Travel guide to Rwanda

Passports
Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your return date and have two blank facing pages. If you do not have this, you will be denied boarding at your departure airport. Soiled, damaged or defaced passports will not be accepted.
 
Visas
A compulsory e-visa should be purchased on-line in advance of travel. It must be printed out and taken with you, to present on arrival ($50 pp). Alternatively you can buy a 72-hour transit visa ($30) or 90-day East African Tourism visa ($100) that allows multiple entry into Rwanda, Kenya & Uganda - but not Tanzania. These visas can also be purchased at the airport on arrival, but this will involve additional queueing.
Health
Malaria tablets are recommended & yellow fever inoculation is mandatory, administered at least 10 days before arrival. Your yellow fever certificate must be carried with you, as it must be presented on entry. As tsetse fly and dengue fever are present, a good insect repellent and anti-histamine are advised. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Tsetse fly is associated with cattle. You should be up to date with your primary courses and boosters. Always check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before travel for any other inoculations recommended (eg Hepatitis A+B, Cholera, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Polio, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies and TB).
Currency
Rwandan Franc (RWF) - tourists can use US dollars in many hotels, but francs will be needed for overland trips and local purchases. Remember to exchange currency at the airport on arrival, but know you will not be able to swap back any surplus currency afterwards. Ask for small denominations, as these are useful for tipping.
Language
French + English + Kinyarwanda
Time Zone
GMT + 3 Hours
Travel Tips
To ensure that you have the best possible holiday experience, we ask you to read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, please discuss them with us before you depart. 
 
Cash – it is essential to take foreign currency in small denominations, and only exchange the amount you are likely to use, as you will not be able to change any surplus back into hard currency. 
 
Hand Luggage – pack essential items for a day or two in your hand luggage, in case your bags go astray and take a few days to catch up with you, especially if you have any tight connecting flights. 
 
Plastic Bags - please be aware that the importation of plastic/polythene bags into Rwanda is strictly prohibited. This includes carry on bags used for duty free. 
 
Baggage – if you are flying on a light aircraft, your luggage must be packed in soft sports bags, usually restricted to 15 kg. Rigid suitcases will not fit into the luggage pods and will be left behind. 
 
Documents – take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, and leave a copy of your passport with a reliable contact at home, in case the originals are lost or stolen. 
 
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security. Any device that does not switch on cannot be checked in and must be surrendered. 
 
Mobile Phones – make sure they are set up for international calls and turn off data roaming to avoid nasty bills. Many hotels offer free Wi-Fi but be aware that some rural regions may not have cell phone coverage. 
 
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad. Credit cards are fairly widely accepted, but always ensure you have cash when travelling in the countryside as some places may not accept them. 
 
Clothing – pack in layers according to the season, including lightweight but long sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect against mosquitos (safari clothing is ideal for this). Neutral colours are best – khaki, green & brown. Avoid white & bright colours, as these increase your visibility to the animals, and black which can get very hot. Take a generous supply of insect repellent to spray on your neck, wrists and ankles and avoid using perfume, as this attracts insects. Take a day pack, T-shirts, shorts, jeans, light fleece, sunhat, swimming costume, sunglasses, sunscreen & flip flops. Sanitising hand cleaner/wet wipes and eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses & a 'shewee' is invaluable for ladies in the bush. Free laundry is offered by many lodges, but you are expected to wash your own underwear. 
 
For gorilla trekking, proper walking shoes with a good tread are essential, as well as a backpack with decent rain gear, including a rain jacket and lightweight waterproof trousers with zip sides. Pack long socks (so you can tuck in your trouser legs & keep out biting ants) and gardening gloves to protect your hands, as you scramble through the rainforest. 
 
Accessories – pack your phone & charger, camera (with spare memory cards and batteries - a 200 mm zoom lens is good for wildlife photography), torch and binoculars (large 8x40 is best). If you are a keen birder we suggest one pair per person, as it can be frustrating to share. 
 
Plugs – type C (European 2-prong) and J. 
 
Books – pack a good travel guide, with information on the wildlife and birds of the region. Also a good supply of English reading material for quiet evenings and when waiting for flights, as these can be hard to come by. 
 
Water – tap water is safe to brush your teeth, but drink only bottled water. 
 
Food – European food is served throughout the country. Vegetarians and food allergies are well catered for. 
 
Taxis – in cities only use regulated taxis, which are best ordered through your hotel. 
 
Self-Drive – driving is on the right (unlike their neighbouring countries of Uganda and Kenya), although we do not recommend self-driving in Rwanda. 
 
Safety – as this is a third-world country, take all sensible precautions. Leave valuable jewellery/watches at home, wear a money belt and be alert when outside your hotel. In particular, avoid taking out large wads of cash in public view and keep your spare cash in your hotel safe. 
 
Wild Animals – attacks by wild animals are rare, but we cannot guarantee that attacks will not occur so observe all sensible precautions. We cannot be held responsible for injuries caused during an incident with a wild animal. 
 
Indemnities - please be aware it is likely you will be required to sign indemnities for safaris and any other potentially hazardous activities. 
 
Drones - it is illegal to use a drone in East Africa. Doing so can lead to criminal charges with heavy fines and/or imprisonment. 
 
Pack for a Purpose - if you have a little space in your suitcase, local schools & communities always appreciate gifts of English reading books, pens & pencils, stationery, deflated footballs etc. Specific requests from communities can be seen on the 'Pack for a Purpose' website. 
 
Tipping – this is voluntary and should depend on the level of service received. We suggest the following USD (or local currency equivalent) per couple/family, but this can be reduced for longer stays: 
- overland driver/guide: $15 per day 
- city guide: $15 per day ($8 for half day) 
- game ranger/tracker: $7/$3 per game drive 
- tipping box for hotel staff: $5 per day 
- waiters: 10% (if not already added to your bill) 
- porters: $1 per bag. 
 
Your Safety - consult the UK Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice www.fco.gov.uk.
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