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Get the Inside scoop on Rwanda Before You Go!

Get the Inside scoop on Rwanda Before You Go!

Rwanda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa and people are always thinking about traveling there but aren’t sure what to expect or how much it will cost. Rwanda has some of the most stunning views on earth, with Mount Nyiragongo which erupts every so often (and could actually be seen while we were there) and Lake Kivu with the lovely volcanic islands of Ruhondeza and Bugarama. Now, before you start freaking out at that last sentence, let me just say that I almost missed this trip entirely because I did not know what to expect either!

English is the Official Language
In larger cities, you shouldn’t have any trouble mingling with the populace. Since 1994, English has been the nation’s official language. However, keep in mind that national Kinyarwanda or French are still widely spoken in various areas of the nation. Local words and phrases will also be used to offer greetings and expressions.
There is a big Difference Between Hutu and Tutsi: Most Rwandans are Hutus but there is a significant minority (14%) who are Tutsis. The Hutus settled in the south-western region of Africa while the Tutsis settled in North East Africa around Lake Victoria.

Visitors Receive a Visa on Arrival
All international travellers must get visas in order to enter Rwanda. The good news is that the visa is given upon arrival at the land borders and Kigali International Airport. A 30-day, $50 single-entry tourist visa is available. Visitors should be aware that due to the small size of Rwanda’s tourism industry, there are a few travel restrictions:
1) Visitors are not permitted to visit more than two of the 11 provinces; 2) Visitors can stay for up to three months within a six month period; 3) There is no guarantee for a visa extension if you want more time.

Rwanda is a Cash-Based Economy
The bulk of services and commodities are still paid for in Rwanda with cash. Particularly outside of the capital Kigali, ATMs are difficult to find, and many shops and restaurants only accept cash. Although the US dollar is commonly recognised, the Rwandan franc is the official unit of money. If you do have to use an ATM, it will likely be located in the most urbanised areas such as Kigali or Gisenyi. Visa cards can be used at designated points of sale but there may be a fee charged by your bank for international transactions.

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Safety Won’t Be an Issue
Rwanda has a terrible and brutal past, but it is currently a peaceful nation. Given the low amount of crime in the nation, safety is not a concern. However, use basic caution because little theft is still a possibility. Be aware that you will be stared at and many people will want to take pictures with you or ask for your picture as well. Finally, always keep your passport handy because foreigners are required to show their passport when asked by any official or police officer.

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