Travel to Kigali

Kigali

Located at Rwanda’s geographical heart, the rapidly growing city of Kigali is not only the national capital, but also the country’s most important business center and main point of entry. Serviced by an efficient international airport and connected to neighboring Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi by surfaced roads, Kigali City boasts a range of hotels catering to all tastes and budgets, and an assortment of fine restaurants whose menus reflect a variety of both traditional and international cuisines.

Despite such concessions to modernity, Kigali City retains the feel of a garden city, with a satisfyingly organic shape dictated by the verdant slopes over which it sprawls. The compact, low-rise city center surrounds a busy, colorful commercial district within which various shops and souvenir stalls displaying a wide range of lovingly executed local crafts can be found.

Among the safest and friendliest of African capitals, Kigali City is blessed with a moderate high altitude climate that belies its tropical location, and is conveniently located within three hours’ drive of the main tourist sites. The Rwandan capital provides both a comfortable and welcoming introduction to this land of a thousand hills and an ideal springboard from which to explore this magical country.

Overview

A tiny, landlocked republic in Equatorial Africa, Rwanda lies on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift and the watershed between Africa’s two largest river systems: the Nile and the Congo. Often called the “land of a thousand hills”, Rwanda is a mountainous country with a moist, temperate year-round climate.

People

The earliest known inhabitants of Rwanda were pygmoid hunter-gatherers, ancestral to the modern Twa people who today comprise only 0.25% of the national population. Some 2,000 years ago, agricultural and pastoralist migrants from the west settled in the area. Oral traditions recall that prior to the 15th century a ruler named Gihanga forged a centralised Rwandan state with similar roots to the Buganda and Bunyoro Empires in neighbouring Uganda. Comprised of a cattle-owning nobility and agriculturist serfdom majority - the precursors respectively of the modern-day Tutsi and Hutu - this powerful state was able to repel all early attempts at European penetration.

Language

English and Kinyarwanda are the most widely spoken languages.

History

Originally the domain of hunter-gatherers, Rwanda emerged into a centralized state with a feudal monarchy in the fifteenth century. It became a German colony in 1890 and was mandated to the Belgians after the First World War. In 1962, under Prime Minister Gregoire Kayibanda, Rwanda gained independence. Ten years later Major General Juvenal Habyarimana came to power. His death in a plane crash in April 1994 unleashed the genocide in which about one million Rwandans are thought to have been killed and nearly twice as many fled into exile. In recent years, as peace and stability have returned under President Kagame, many Rwandans have come back. Local elections were held for the first time in 35 years in 2001 and are an encouraging sign of the steady return of stability to the country.

Travel Guide

Currency

The Rwandan Franc (Frw/Rwf) is the legal currency in Rwanda. American Dollars and Euros are accepted in some hotels and restaurants however expect to receive your change in Rwandan Francs.

Weather

Rwanda is near the Equator.  As a result the climate does not change much. The rainy seasons tend to be from March to April and October to November, but this varies in different areas and it can rain any time of year, especially in the gorilla parks areas. Travel can be slower in the rainy season but the views are often better. Gorilla tracking can be muddier but remains open. In the mountainous areas it is much colder than on the plains and the rainfall is greater. The temperatures on the plains tend to be between 69°F and 86°F and in the mountainous areas they can go down to 50°F in certain months.

Health Requirements

Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellent are essential. Seek advice on vaccination inoculations that may be required. A Yellow Fever Certificate is required.

Visa Requirements

Visas are not required for U.S. citizens entering Rwanda for less than 90 days.

Credit Cards

Visa and MasterCard is accepted at most lodges/hotels.

Electrical Appliances

230/240 volts at 50 Hz. 2-pin (round) sockets

Water

Drink bottled water only.

Destinations

Explore the rest of our Rwanda destinations:

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Kigali

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