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Hotel des Mille Collines
Hotel des Mille Collines - dream vacation

Avenue de l\'Armée / Avenue de la RépubliqueKigali

Kigali Serena Hotel
Kigali Serena Hotel - dream vacation

Boulevard De La RevolutionKigali

Galaxy Hotel Kigali
Galaxy Hotel Kigali - dream vacation

Av. Ntaruka, No 6, KiyovuKigali

Rwanda is a relatively stable East African country, and easily accessible from Kenya and Uganda. It is relatively easy, safe and simple to travel around.

Rwanda is not only the land of a thousand hills, but also a country rich in flora and fauna and stunning natural beauty in its scenic rolling and breathtaking green savannah. The country hosts some rare species of animals like the silverback mountain gorillas as well as unique birds and insects in the tropical forest of Nyungwe.


  • Kigali – the capital city
  • 2 Gicumbi (formerly Byumba)
  • 3 Rusizi (formerly Cyangugu)
  • 4 Rubavu
  • 5 Huye
  • 6 Kabuga
  • 7 Kibeho
  • 8 Kibungo
  • 9 Karongi (formerly Kibuye)
  • 10 Muhanga (formerly Gitarama)
  • 11 Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri)
  • 12 Ngororero
  • 13 Nyamata
  • 14 Rwamagana

(Cities were renamed a few years ago when the administrative structure of Rwanda was re-vamped. The former names refer to old provincial capitals. Expect people to use either name listed to refer to these cities.)


Rwanda has come a long way since the civil war and genocide of 1994 devastated this tiny country. Shake off your memories of war and expect a warm and friendly welcome to the beautiful country now that this country is modernizing. It is a fast-growing country in Africa in terms of a lot of categories. It is sometimes called "The Singapore of Africa", due to both countries' similarities in geography, politics and modern history.


Hunter gatherers settled the territory in the stone and iron ages, followed later by Bantu peoples. The population coalesced first into clans and then into kingdoms. The Kingdom of Rwanda dominated from the mid-eighteenth century, with the Tutsi kings conquering others militarily and centralising power. The Tutsi and the Hutu shared a common language, religion and culture, and originally referred to different social classes, though Europeans would later introduce the concept of them being different ethnic groups during the colonial era.

Germany colonized Rwanda in 1884 as part of German East Africa, followed by Belgium, which annexed it in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations ruled through the kings and perpetuated a pro-Tutsi policy. The Hutu population revolted in 1959. They massacred numerous Tutsi and ultimately established an independent, Hutu-dominated state in 1962. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launched a civil war in 1990. Social tensions erupted in the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The RPF ended the genocide with a military victory.

Rwanda has begun to recover from the genocide, and since the accession of Paul Kagame as president in 2000, Rwanda has adopted market-oriented reforms and emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, concerns remain on human rights due to the authoritarian nature of Kagame's rule.


The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are composed of three ethnic groups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.


Although Rwanda is located only two degrees south of the equator, Rwanda's high elevation makes the climate temperate. The average daily temperature near Lake Kivu, at an altitude of 1,463 m (4,800 ft) is 22.8°C (73°F). During the two rainy seasons (Feb–May and Sep–Dec), heavy downpours occur almost daily, alternating with sunny weather. Annual rainfall averages 800 mm (31.5 in) but is generally heavier in the western and northwestern mountains than in the eastern savannahs.


  • 1 January - New Year's Day
  • 1 February - Heroes Day
  • Good Friday - variable
  • 7 April - Genocide Against the Tutsi Memorial Day
  • 1 July - Independence Day
  • 4 July - Liberation Day
  • 15 August - Assumption
  • Eid al Fitr and Eid al-Adha (Islamic holidays that vary with the lunar calendar)
  • 25 December - Christmas
  • 26 December - Boxing Day

Get in

Visa requirements

A passport is required to enter Rwanda though a certificate of vaccination is not required unless coming from a yellow fever endemic country. Citizens of Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda can enter Rwanda visa-free for up to 6 months. Kenyan and Ugandan citizens may use an ID card in lieu of a passport to enter Rwanda. Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Mauritius, Philippines, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore citizens can also enter visa-free for 90 days.

Visitors from all countries who do not receive visa-free entry are now eligible for visa on arrival for $50 USD (as of Mar 2020). Payments for the visa may be made on arrival in both cash as well as credit card. Citizens of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa countries will receive visas valid for 90 days while other visitors will be granted visas valid for 30 days.

Visa applications and payments for both the standard visitor visa as well as the East African Tourist visa may also be made online on the government website. Within a few days you will receive an email with the letter of visa acceptance, which you should print and bring to the border entry point. The East African Tourist visa allows for multiple entry travel between Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda over a 90 day period. Note that exiting any of these three countries will invalidate the visa even if the 90 day period has not yet expired.

By plane

Kigali Airport (KGL IATA). While most flights are inter-regional, there are flights to Istanbul IST, Brussels-Zaventem and Amsterdam Schiphol  

The Rwandan capital is also easily accessible (3 hr by road) from the Goma airstrip in DRC.

By car

By bus

  • In Uganda, many bus companies make the 8-10 hour journey from Kampala in Uganda to Kigali. As 2015, it costs FRw 8,000 from Kigali to Kampala on Horizon. Jaguar charges FRw 6,000-8,000 - early buses are cheaper. The most reliable bus company is Kampala coaches, Jaguar and Ontracom from Rwanda.
  • Tanzania has one open border with Rwanda, but this is a far more difficult way to enter Rwanda due to the remoteness and lack of roads in western Tanzania. A bus runs from Mwanza to Benako (both Tanzania) and from Benako buses run onto Kigali. Another town to consider on this route is Ngara (Tanzania).

Several buses run from Dar es Salaam via Morogoro and Dodoma (they all leave Ubungo bus station around 06:00-07:00) to Kahama daily. You will have to spend the night in Kahama and then get a minibus or shared taxi on to the border. From the Rwandan side of the border, there are minibuses to Kigali.

  • In Burundi, there are two ways to enter from Rwanda, and security in the border areas varies. For the intrepid, there is a daily direct service from Kigali to Bujumbura operated by Yahoo Car, and a "luxury" service operated by Belvedere Lines. If there are security concerns on the Bujumbura - Huye - Kigali route, it is also possible to go along the road bordering (but not entering) DRC. You will probably have to do this in a series of minibuses via Cibitoke, Bugarama (Rwanda) and Cyangugu (Rwanda). With both of these routes, check the security situation with your embassy (the Belgian embassy has the best information).
  • For Democratic Republic of the Congo, much of the country remains off limits to many tourists due to instability, though Goma and Bukavu can be visited easily from Rwanda.

By train

There are no trains in Rwanda.

Get around

Short distances can be travelled either on foot, or by taxi-velo (bicycle taxi). Taxi-velos are widespread, and are relatively inexpensive but not allowed in urban areas. A taxi-velo driver will cycle, and the passenger will sit rather precariously on the back.

Motorcycle taxis (taxi-moto) are also popular, especially in Kigali, a normal journey will cost from USD1-2. If you look like a foreigner and are walking on the main road, drivers will probably come up to you to offer a ride. Most of the drivers speak only very basic English or French, if they speak any.

Taxis are less common, and are best found at taxi stations, by waiting at the taxi sign at bus stops, or by calling them. They are significantly more expensive, even short rides cost FRw2,000, and longer rides can be FRw5,000 or more.

Slightly longer distances, indeed the whole country, can be travelled by Matatu (or Twegerane, literally let get closer). These white minibuses are found throughout East Africa, and are crammed full of adults, children, and bags. Modern Coast has regular coaches.

Car rental is available from various suppliers. Driving standards are reasonable. Roads between all of the main towns are good. Other roads may be dirt, with some requiring a good four wheel drive vehicle. Speed limits are low, usually 40km/h in town and 80km/h on main roads. There are frequent police speed checks and check points where documents/insurance can be checked. The police setup mobile speed cameras in some places. Fixed speed cameras are present in numerous locations around the country and some red light cameras are in Kigali. Slow moving trucks are a problem and there are limited overtaking possibilities as all roads outside towns are single carriageway. Allow extra time for any journey.


Kinyarwanda is an official language and the main spoken language in Rwanda. It is also spoken in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in southern Uganda. Kinyarwanda is a tonal language of the Bantu language family, closely related to Kirundi spoken in the neighboring country Burundi and much more distantly related to other Bantu languages such as Swahili.

In addition to Kinyarwanda, Rwanda's three other official languages are English, French, and Swahili. While French was the former language of administration under Belgian colonial rule, since the civil war the Rwandan government has moved away from the Francophone sphere of influence and officially switched the primary language of education to English in 2008. As a result of this, older people who were educated in Rwanda tend to have some knowledge of French, while the younger generation will have better knowledge of English. Complicating this is the large number of returned refugees who were educated in neighboring countries. Those educated in nearby Anglophone countries (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya) tend to know English while those educated in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Burundi will know French. Swahili was made an additional official language in 2015 and a required subject in the school curriculum as a result of its membership within the East African Community. Swahili is also widely spoken among traders and returned refugees from Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The Ethnographic Museum Rwanda, in Huye, is a good source of information on the cultural history of the country and the region.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali provides good insight into one of the world's greatest tragedies.

The Nyamata Genocide Memorial, in the town of Nyamata, 40 minutes south of Kigali, is a worthwhile complement to the Gisozi Memorial Centre. The memorial is in a church where over 10,000 people were killed during the 1994 genocide.

The Ntarama Genocide Memorial, 20 minutes north of Nyamata memorial, is also worth visiting. Like the Nyamata memorial, this site was a church before the genocide, and was nationalised to serve as a memorial after thousands of people were killed within its walls. Ntarama also has a peaceful memorial garden and wall of names in the back of its compound.

The Nyanza Genocide Memorial, near Kigali, is the site of four tiled-over mass graves holding the remains of thousands of Tutsis who were executed after the regiment of UN guards protecting them were killed.


  • 1 Lake Kivu. A large lake bordering the DRC, it's a nice place to relax for a week or so.  

Rwanda has 3 national parks:

  • 2NOT EXISTING LISTING IMAGE Akagera National Park.  
  • 3 Volcanoes National Park, reservation@rwandatourism.com. Home to the mountain gorillas, this park spreads into Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The setting for Gorillas in the Mist, author Dian Fossey's research. If you can afford it, it's an excellent experience, and even possible as a daytrip from Kigali. USD1500 per person (2017). Besides that, you will have to take an official taxi which costs another USD50.  
  • 4 Nyungwe National Park.  



The currency is the Rwandan franc (French: franc rwandais, Kinyarwanda: Ifaranga ry'u Rwanda), denoted by the symbols "FRw" or "RF" or "R?" (ISO currency code of RWF (sometimes displayed as FRw, and possibly RF or R?). In the Kinyarwanda language, it is also called the amafaranga.

Coins in Rwanda come in denominations of 1-, 5-, 10-, 20-, 50 and 100 Rwandan francs. Banknotes in Rwanda come in denominations of 500-, 1,000-, 2,000 and 5,000 Rwandan francs.

The smallest-value note is a FRw500 note, which is the smallest note in physical size, as well. There are also notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000, with the larger notes becoming slightly larger in physical size. There are no generally-circulated notes over FRw5,000, which can be cumbersome since a FRw5,000 note is roughly equivalent to US$8. Since few places in Rwanda accept credit cards, visitors will need to carry a large amount of cash if travelling outside of Kigali, especially if staying longer than a few days.

Coins valued at FRw100 are commonly used. However, smaller coins (FRw50, 20, 10, 5, and 1) are generally not accepted by street merchants and smaller restaurants and hotels. The only place to obtain smaller coins is through a bank or a large store, such as a supermarket. It's common for most businesses in Rwanda, including currency exchangers and gas stations, to round transactions to the nearest FRw100.

You get a slightly better exchange rates by bringing US$50 bills or higher (year 2006 or newer) to exchange for Rwandan francs.

There are ATMs all over Rwanda. Depending on your bank, this can be a much cheaper way to get francs because the ATMs use a much better exchange rate than the money changers. Mastercard, Visa, Union pay, Amex cards, Diners club, JCB card are accepted at Access bank, Bank of Kigali, Equity bank, I&M bank, Ecobank, Kenya Commercial Bank, GT Bank.


The local "Brochettes" (kebabs) are delicious and are available in most bars and restaurants. Small bars will primarily serve goat brochettes, and goat liver brochettes are often of higher quality to the locals. Zingalo is goat intestine, sometimes also served as a brochette. Some locals prefer this and it could be brought to you without asking at very "local" places. So, if you prefer not to eat zingalo, try to see whether other diners seem to be enjoying the spiral looking treat and specify you do not want it when you order ("OYA zingalo"). Some restaurants also serve beef and fish brochettes, and a few will serve chicken. Brochettes are usually served with french fries ("frites") or fried or grilled ibitoke.

If Rwanda has a staple food, it is ibitoke (sing. igitoke). Ibitoke are starchy, potato-like bananas, which are not sweet like plantains. While plantains are available in Rwanda, they are not seen as particularly Rwandan food. Igitoke/banana are served boiled in sauce, grilled, or even fried. You can also refer to them as matoke, which is usually easier for foreigners to pronounce. The sweet bananas in Rwanda are delicious but considerably smaller than the matoke bananas. If you want this type of banana, ask for small banana or sweet banana. In urban areas a local buffet known as "Melange" is sold at lunchtime. This consists of a buffet of mostly carbohydrates such as potatoes, bananas, rice and cassava accompanied with some vegetables, beans, and a small amount of meat or fish with sauce. Rwandan buffets are not all you can eat. You may fill your plate only once, and with practice you'll be able to stack your plate high like the locals do. Prices range from just over USD1 to USD5 or even USD10 depending on the grade of the restaurant and the variety of food. Most of the upper segment buffets (USD3 and above) also offer a salad buffet. Many of the cheaper Melange places are unmarked.

Kigali has a much better range of restaurants than the rest of the country including Indian, Chinese, Italian, Greek, French and multi-cuisine restaurants. An evening meal is typically around USD10.


In most shops you will find milk, water, juices and soft drinks. In most bars the choice is limited to their offering of about 5 different soft drinks and 4 different beers, Turbo King, Primus, Mützig and Amstel. Primus and Mützig are available in small and large sizes, whereas Amstel is available only in 330 ml bottles. Rwandans are known for their fondness for large beers and when you order Amstel, it is common for a server to bring out 2 bottles at a time. Bralirwa in the west of the Rwanda produces most of the beer and soft drinks available in Rwanda. Inyange produces juices and soft drinks.

There are also local banana beer preparations called Urwagwa, normally brewed at home and available only in plastic containers but now also sold in bottles at some shops and bars.


Accommodation is usually fairly basic and significantly more expensive than neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania. Very basic accommodation will cost US$8-20.

A few nice hotels can be found in Kigali, the most famous of which is the "Hotel des Milles Collines", as featured in the film Hotel Rwanda. Film buffs hoping to stay in the film set will be disappointed though, as the film was produced in South Africa. The hotel was renovated several years ago and maintains a good standard. Most hotels in Kigali cost above are in US$50 per night, although there are a few bargains if you look around.

There is a relatively inexpensive guesthouse and conference centre run by Catholic nuns called Centre Saint Paul which is in the centre of Kigali. It's located behind the church by the same name across from the roundabout. Accomodations are spartan; It has twin beds (with a mosquito net) and a small desk. Some rooms have an en suite bathroom. To make up for it, is a well-manicured garden.

Lake Kivu: Kibuye:

There is a fairly inexpensive hotel called Home Saint Jean (phone number: 0252 568 526) in Kibuye. They have dorms and private rooms.

The Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel in Kigali is a good place for backpackers.

Stay safe

Tourists are usually welcomed warmly in Rwanda, and the country is largely considered safe for visitors. The possible exceptions are certain places along the Congolese and Burundian borders. Rwandan troops have been rumoured to be involved in the civil war that still plagues the northeast of Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainly due to the presence of Interahamwe who fled after the 1994 genocide. Gisenyi and Kibuye are considered safe, but the border situation can change at any time: check travel advisories and local sources for further advice.

Gorilla trekking near to the DRC border is generally considered safe, due to the large and continuous Rwandan army presence.

While travelling in matutus (taxis) in the countryside, don't be surprised if the matutu drives through several police/military check-points. This is done to check IDs, car registration and insurance, so it would be wise to bring at least a photocopy of passport with you everywhere you go in Rwanda.

Stay healthy

Tap water is not drinkable.

The following is an excerpt from the US State Department's Consular Information Sheet on Rwanda updated on 1 Dec 2006:

Medical and dental facilities are limited, and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. Travellers should bring their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. In Kigali, Americans may go to King Faycal Hospital, a private facility that offers limited services. There is also a missionary dental clinic in Kigali staffed by an American dentist. An American-operated missionary hospital with some surgical facilities is in Kibagora, in southwestern Rwanda. Another hospital with American physicians is in Ruhengeri, near the gorilla trekking area, and a Chinese hospital is in southeastern Rwanda in Kibungo. There is also a very good hospital near Lac Muhazi, where even people from Kigali go to. The US Embassy maintains a current list of healthcare providers and facilities in Rwanda. This list is included in the Consular Section’s welcome packets for American citizens. There are periodic outbreaks of meningitis in Rwanda. Yellow fever can cause serious medical problems, but the vaccine, required for entry, is very effective in preventing the disease. HIV/AIDS is high among adults at 9% or 1 in 11. Practice safe sex. Avoid intravenous drug use.


Office Rwandaise du Tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux (ORTPN), Boulevard de la Révolution no 1, Kigali Tel: +250 576 514 or 573 396

Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Canada
53 Gilmour Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 0N8, Canada
Tel: +1 613 569-5420

  • Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in the UK

120-22 Seymour Place, London W1H 1NR, UK
Tel: +44 20 7224 9832

  • Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in the USA

1714 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Tel: (202) 232 2882


Rwanda is a very conservative society, and most people dress modestly, especially women. Wearing shorts or tight skirts and skimpy tops is likely to get you stared at twice as much as normal.

It is unusual for a couple to make public displays of affection, even though many men walk hand in hand with male friends. Also, Rwandans will generally never eat or drink in public, apart from restaurants. Rwandan women are rarely seen smoking in public or out in bars unaccompanied.

Although there is no smoking ban in most public places like bars and restaurants, generally it's not encouraged. Sometimes people may complain of being disturbed with people's smoking.

Rwandans are very private, reserved people and loud public confrontations (shouting matches) or obvious displays of emotion (such as crying) are also frowned upon. If you feel you are being overcharged by a trader, quietly persisting with the negotiation (or your complaint!) is likely to produce results much faster than an angry outburst.

It is also impolite to make eye contact with an elder.

Rwanda is still recovering from a civil war and genocide in which over 800,000 people, perhaps a million, mostly Tutsi, were killed. Many Rwandese lost relatives and friends. Remember to be sensitive to this sad fact when dealing with Rwandese. Most people today are trying to forget the tribal divisions and would rather be referred to as Rwandese than Hutu or Tutsi. It is considered impolite to ask someone about their ethnic origin.

There is not much political discourse in Rwanda, unlike in many neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Kenya where people talk freely about the government and political issues, people in Rwanda will be uncomfortable if asked about their views or even if seated at a table where national politics is discussed.




Emergency numbers

  • All emergencies: 112
  • Traffic accidents: 113
  • Corruption report: 997
  • Police conduct complaint: 3511

All emergency numbers are toll-free


Rwanda has an excellent mobile phone network covering almost the entire country, and international calls can be made easily.

Local SIM cards are readily available everywhere, even in remote towns. The main provider is MTN (coverage map), followed by Tigo which merged with Airtel. Mobile phones can be purchased or rented from major shops in Kigali.

Rwanda is among the top three African countries in terms of internet connectivity, with an ever-growing fiber optic network. There is high speed 4G LTE wireless broadband in major cities.

Most towns have several internet cafes and Wi-Fi is available in higher end hotels.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Be vigilant and avoid large crowds. In recent years, a number of grenade attacks have taken place throughout the country, particularly in Kigali and the Southern Province. The attacks usually occur at nightfall and take place at busy locations such as bus stations and markets. On September 13 and again on September 14, 2013, grenades exploded in a market in a suburb of Kigali, resulting in at least two deaths, and many injuries. Similar incidents took place in July 2013 in Kigali, and in March 2013 in Kimironko.

Regions bordering Burundi and parts of the DRC (see Advisory)

The presence and movement of Rwandan refugees returning from neighbouring countries may cause tensions in rural areas. Although significant progress has been made in promoting national reconciliation, the security situation in these rural areas remains fragile. No violent incidents have been reported recently in the towns of Kibuye, and Cyangugu, near the border with the DRC, or in the town of Butare, near the border with Burundi. The Rwanda-DRC border could be closed without notice.


The level of crime is relatively low in Rwanda. However, petty theft occurs from cars and hotel rooms, and pickpockets are active in crowded places. Incidents of armed robbery have recently increased in Kigali at night. The number of house robberies in Kigali has also been steadily increasing over the past 12 months. Remain alert to your surroundings and ensure that personal belongings and vehicles are secure. Do not show signs of affluence and do not venture out alone or travel outside major cities after dark. Exercise caution and avoid crowded places.


Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Road travel

In general, the main roads in Kigali and linking Kigali to other cities are relatively well maintained; however, dirt roads, particularly the Gisenyi-Kibuye-Cyangugu road, are poor. Excessive speed, careless driving, the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles, the presence of pedestrians, cyclists and livestock on the roads, and the lack of streetlights pose hazards. Some roads may be difficult or impossible to access during the rainy season. Avoid travel after dark, particularly in rural areas. Police checkpoints are frequent.

The use of mobile telephones while driving is illegal, unless fitted with a hands-free device.

Third-party insurance is required to cover damages for those involved in accidents resulting in injuries but found not to have been at fault. Driver's licences of those found to have caused an accident can be confiscated during the investigation. If an accident results in death, you may be subject to a jail sentence. Drunk drivers are subject to a short prison sentence and a fine.

Public transportation

Shared taxis (minivans), the most common form of public transportation, can be dangerous due to overloading and reckless driving. Use licensed auto taxis, which are orange-striped. Confirm the fare before departing. There is no rail network in operation.

Be cautious when using motorbike taxis as they are unsafe, and do not use them at night.

Air transportation

Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Adventure tourism

No recent incidents have been reported at the Parc National des Volcans and the Nyungwe Forest National Park. Park permits must be purchased from Rwanda’s Office of Tourism and National Parks. Within the parks, be accompanied by an official guide and only use established trails.

General safety information

Tourist facilities are adequate in Kigali and other major towns, but are limited in remote areas. In remote areas, access to electricity is not possible and the use of generators is common. During the dry season, there may be water shortages in some areas of the country and in some parts of Kigali.

Emergency services

Although ambulance services exist, they are insufficiently equipped.  The ambulance service can be contacted by calling 912. In other emergencies, such as robberies, help from the police can be obtained by calling 112. Police officers, especially those on the street, do not always speak French or English.

In the event of a traffic accident in Kigali, police assistance can be obtained by calling 113. If you are involved in an accident outside of Kigali, it is recommended that you go directly to the nearest police station.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers from all countries.
  • Vaccination is recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.



  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.


Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are limited and scarce outside of Kigali. Hospitals in Kigali are adequate for routine procedures. Serious medical problems require air evacuation.

Health tip

Trekkers may experience acute mountain sickness (AMS) at high altitudes. AMS can be deadly. Carry travel and health insurance that includes provisions for helicopter rescue, medical evacuation, and treatment for accidental injury and medical emergencies.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Penalties for drug-related offences are severe.

Photography of government buildings is prohibited. You should also avoid taking photographs in border areas.

Non-biodegradable bags are prohibited in Rwanda. If you arrive with such bags at the airport in Kigali, they might be confiscated.

An International Driving Permit is required.


The currency is the Rwandan franc (RWF). Only the larger hotels accept credit cards, mostly to settle hotel bills. Check with the establishment beforehand. Expect to handle other expenses in cash. Only commercial banks cash traveller’s cheques.

 Automated banking machines (ABMs) are limited to Kigali, and often do not accept Canadian ABM cards. Credit card cash withdrawals are available through a few banks in Kigali only.



Seismic activity is unpredictable and infrequent, but the possibility of earthquakes exists.


Volcanic eruptions have occurred in Goma (DRC) and may pose a hazard in Gisenyi in northern Rwanda.

Rainy season

During the two rainy seasons (February to May and September to December), intense thunderstorms are frequent. Roads may become impassable to all but four-wheel-drive vehicles. Landslides and floods are common during these seasons. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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