Name: The Republic of Rwanda
Time Zone: GMT + 4 Hours
Capital City: Kigali
Independence gained on: July 1, 1962 from Belgium
Official Language: Kinyarwanda, French, English. In 2008 the Rwandan government announced that English will become the co-official language of the nation, alongside Kinyarwanda and replacing French.
Currency: Rwandan franc (RWF)
Land Area: Rwanda's land area is 26,338 km2 / 10,169 sq miles. Rwanda is smaller than the US state of Massachusetts or half the size of Scotland
Drives on the: Right
Country Code: 250
Rwanda is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of east-central Africa, surrounded by Uganda in the north, Tanzania in the east, Burundi in the south, and Zaire to its west and northwest.
• Most of Rwanda is 3,000 ft above sea level, with much of the central plateau being higher than 4,700 ft.
Population & People:
Home to around 11 million people, Rwanda supports the densest population in continental Africa, most of whom engage in subsistence agriculture.
Vegetation & Special Natural Features:
• Rwanda lies on the East African plateau, with the divide between the water systems of the Nile and Zaire rivers passing in a north-south direction through the western part of the country.
• To the west of the divide, the land drops sharply to Lake Kivu in the Great African Rift Valley; to the east, the land falls gradually across the central plateau - its grassy highlands are the core areas of settlement of Rwanda's population - to the swamps and lakes on the country's eastern border.
• Warm days and cool evenings.
• Rwanda can be visited throughout the year.
• Gorilla tracking and other forest walks are less demanding during drier months.
• The European winter is the best time for birds, as Palaearctic migrants supplement resident species.
• The unit of currency is the Rwanda franc.
• The US dollar is the hard currency of reference. It may be impossible to exchange travellers' cheques at a good rate (or at all) away from the capital.
Passport / Visa:
• Visitors require a visa to enter Rwanda, which they can obtain at the Rwandan Embassies or Diplomatic Missions in your Country of residence for processing. Their website is www.migration.gov.rw
• In view of the bilateral agreements, the Nationals of the following Countries may visit Rwanda without visa for a period up to 90 days: USA, Germany, Canada, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Sweden, Hong Kong and Burundi.
• There is no national welfare scheme and visitors to Uganda are responsible for their own medical expenses. We insist on our clients being covered by the Flying Doctors' Service.
• A certificate of yellow-fever vaccination is required.
• Much of Rwanda lies at too high an elevation for malaria to be a concern, but the disease is present and prophylactic drugs are strongly recommended.
• It is advisable not to drink tap water. Bottled mineral water can be bought in all towns.
• 230/240 volts at 50Hz.
• Please bring sufficient batteries for photographic equipment; many lodges have limited power supply, but all are generally capable of recharging your electrical goods for you.
• The use of fixed telephone landlines is not widespread in the country.
• Internet cafes exist, and generally provide cheap but slow connections.
• The postal system is mostly reliable.
• Please respect the local people with regards to photography and only use cameras if they have permission by "the models" to do so.
• Never try to "steal" a photo against the will of the person concerned. Let your guide help negotiate terms before you start shooting!
Food & Water:
• Although tap water can be reasonably safe, whenever possible, we recommend you drink bottled water; this is available in all lodges and camps.
• Please advise us of any allergies, likes or dislikes before you embark on your holiday.
• Please ensure that baggage is packed in soft bags and should weigh no more than 15 kg per person.
• It is possible to store luggage not required during the safari with us at The SAFARI Company or at your hotel if you are returning there after your trip. Please see our recommended packing list.
When on Safari
Rwanda offers a treasure-trove of experiences, ecosystems, wildlife and cultures. The SAFARI Company encourages our guests to support our guides by learning and honouring their policies which helps preserve our precious environment. In order to promote responsible tourism, we ask that you join us in observing the following tips.
Whilst on a game drive:
• Please do not interfere with animal behaviour.
• No more than 5 vehicles around an animal at one time (please accept the decision of your guide to leave an animal if he feels it is becoming overcrowded).
• Please do not get too close to the animals as this may distress them.
• Please do not get out of the vehicle without consulting your guide.
• Please try to be as quiet as possible when viewing wildlife close up. Your guide will turn off the vehicle's engine whenever possible.
• Please minimize off-road driving.
• No speeding! The speed limit in the parks is 40kph.
Protect the Environment:
• Please do not litter, especially cigarette butts.
• Please do not collect bones, feathers, stones or plants etc; they are all mini ecosystems.
• Please do not buy bones, stones, feather displays or plants etc.
• Please do not take photographs of the local people without asking their permission first.
• Please do not encourage trade or give personal items away to the local people (if we support begging we promote begging).
• If you have brought gifts to give to the local people, please give them to your guide for proper distribution.
• Beware of anyone asking you for gifts or money and do not feel obliged to donate anything.
• Please report back to us if you are harassed.
Television & Music:
• Most places do not have either and some safari vehicles do not have radios.
• The sounds of the bush are so special, unique and memorable that we advise against either, but if you are a 'music addict', we suggest you bring an iPod and sufficient power supply.
• The first thing most visitors notice is that Rwandese as a whole are friendly, helpful people. Much of Rwanda's population is extremely poor though so take good care of your valuables, especially money and travelers cheques. Please do not leave money and travelers cheques in your room or unattended in a safari vehicle.
• If you are walking around, please do not wear flashy jewellery or have expensive electronic equipment on display, and hold on tight to your bags.
• We cannot accept responsibility for theft and all hotels and lodges have a security box for valuables and lock-up rooms for excess luggage storage.
Guide to Tipping:
• Although tipping is a safari tradition, it is never compulsory and should only be done if you feel you have received good service.
• Staff very much appreciate receiving gratuities from you, our guests, because it is one way of assuring them they are doing a good job.
• Most lodges have a staff tip box located at reception, or in a central location. We recommend $5 per client per day in the tip box. These tips will be divided among all lodge staff.
• If you are particularly satisfied with assistance received from someone in particular, a personal tip is also acceptable.
• In most lodges the driver/guide is tipped individually.