Situated as it is along the Western, or Albertine Rift, Rwanda is one of Africa’s most biodiverse regions. Its undulating mountainous terrain – not for nothing is it known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills” – is a haven of rainforest endemism. The legendary Virunga Mountains – part of the Virunga Massif that covers 8 000 square kilometres across Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda – are home to volcanoes, swathes of rainforest and half the world’s total population of Critically Endangered mountain gorillas.
The country’s forests are also home to another of Africa’s great apes, the chimpanzee, as well as a multitude of primates such as the striking golden monkey, a little-known but magnificent inhabitant of the bamboo forest.
Visa requirements may be subject to change at any time – check before you travel! From 1st January 2018, Nationals of all countries can receive a visa on arrival at Kigali International Airport
and all land borders. A return ticket must be shown and your passport must have a validity of at least 6 months on the day of entry in Rwanda. You are also advised to have at least three blank pages available in your passport on arrival.
It is also possible to obtain a visa ahead of time through Rwanda’s online e-visa system: https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=13
A single entry tourist visa costs US $30 (exclusions apply for select countries) and is valid for 30 days. The East African Tourist Visa (EATV) which covers Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda, costs US $100 and is valid for 90 days.
Please note that East African visas, are not valid for travel to Tanzania. If you visit Tanzania between two other participating East African countries (e.g Kenya & Rwanda) your East African Visa will become null and void and you will need to obtain a new East African Visa.
Rwanda is a safe and secure destination; however, it is a good idea to take a few precautions.
If you are planning to travel to Rwanda along with other countries in East Africa, you should consult your GP before travel. Whilst visiting your doctor, you should take the opportunity to review your current state of health, the medication that you are taking and any allergies that you may have.
Although Rwanda does not require Yellow fever vaccinations for visitors coming from non-endemic countries, they are required for travellers coming from endemic countries and before travelling to most East African countries. If you are traveling to any other African country before
or after Rwanda, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a Yellow Fever vaccine to ensure you meet requirements. Please make sure you check the latest requirements before you travel.
Much of East Africa is at altitude and the sun is hot. Particularly if you are fair skinned, you may burn easily. It is therefore necessary to take precautions by applying high factor sunscreen and to stay out of the direct sunlight. We would advise you to wear a hat whilst you are out in the mid day sun. Please also remember to drink plenty of ﬂuids to stay hydrated.
Your safety is of utmost importance to us. Whilst you travel with us you can rest assured that you are in good hands. Our camps and lodges in both Rwanda and Kenya, all employ a team of day and night guards who are always on call and will escort you to and from your rooms to keep you safe throughout your stay.
All of our camps and lodges have systems of reverse osmosis ﬁltration installed and it is from these systems that all of your drinking water is derived. We would strongly encourage you to pack your
own reuseable water bottle which can be reﬁlled as often as you like. Alternatively, you will be provided with a Governors’ Camp Collection branded metal bottle at the ﬁrst of our camps/lodges that you arrive at.
Tipping is customary in Rwanda though not mandatory. Please speak to the lodge manager if you would like advice on tipping guidelines for the staff or for your guide, porters or trackers on your gorilla trek.
We understand that you will want to take as many pictures of your holiday as possible, but before you begin to take pictures of houses or people, ask for their permission. In some cases, you may be required to offer a tip for those pictures. Your driver or guide is the best person to ask for advice.
Never approach or attempt to feed a wild animal, even if they appear harmless. You may hear sounds outside your room during the night – do not be alarmed! Please do not step outside your tent or room at any stage to investigate, during the night.
Many visitors to Africa feel a strong urge to help the less fortunate whom they may encounter during their travel, or when visiting a local village or school. It is best to seek an appropriate opportunity to buy gifts or supplies while you are traveling, rather than carrying them along from home.
Some of our partner camps and lodges in Rwanda are actively involved in working with their local
communities to sustain schools, clinics and other projects. Ask about this when you are there and visit the school, clinic or project if you can.
A donation to something you have seen on the ground will bring you more satisfaction (and directly help the neediest).
Resist the temptation to offer ‘hand outs’ to kids on the side of the road. This only encourages dependency on such generosity and teaches these children that begging brings reward.
A rather fun idea is to gift a football (soccer ball). Africans love soccer yet not all the children have
a ball with which to play.
Rwanda is 220 – 240 volts. Please note, the lodge is connected to the Electricity Grid in Rwanda. Power appliances can be run/charged 24 hours a day.
The Rwandan Franc is the currency of Rwanda but US Dollars are widely accepted at many hotels, lodges and camps. Most properties (including Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge) will accept payments from major credit cards – Visa and Mastercard. We suggest that you carry a combination of cash (preferably US$ and local) as a ‘just in case’. Small notes are helpful for purchasing goods in local markets or tipping porters etc.
The dialling code for Rwanda is + 250. Rwanda has quite a widespread mobile network with an extensive range of 4G and 3G. Our lodge has WiFi in the main areas and in the rooms.
If your East African journey includes a safari in Kenya, you will most likely ﬁnd yourself on a light aircraft at some point. Due to strict weight and space restrictions on small aircraft in some destinations, we strongly suggest that you adhere to the below packing guidelines: Baggage allowance on regional ﬂights in Kenya is strictly 15 Kgs (34lbs) per passenger, inclusive of hand luggage in soft bags. Excess baggage will be charged at prevailing rates of the airline, and only carried subject to space availability.
If you arrive with oversized/overweight baggage for these ﬂights, you will be asked to repack into suitable bags which comply with internal airline regulations. Please bear this in mind when you are packing for your trip with us as failure to do so may result in a delayed departure or even a missed ﬂight.
Areas in Volcanoes National Park are at 8,250 feet above sea level and can get quite cold at times!
The below is an outline of what we suggest you bring. Depending upon how long you are travelling for you may wish to adjust quantities and items to suit your needs.
1 x pair lightweight trousers (khaki or similar muted colors). Good for daytime.
1 x pair waterproof (Gortex) trousers which help against stinging nettles as well as the rain. It’s worth packing these waterproofs in your backpack and then putting them on over your trekking pants if and when you encounter stinging nettles or rain.
1 x pair of jeans or ‘smart casual’ evening attire trousers for dinner etc.
3 x t-shirts. It‘s a good idea to make use of ‘layers’ which you can put on or take off as the day heats up or cools down.
1 x long sleeved t-shirt or turtleneck is ideal for the trek itself.
1 x ﬂeece for the evenings and early mornings (you can leave this behind in your transfer car at the start of the trailhead once the day has warmed up a bit).
1x wind breaker/light waterproof jacket incase you get some rain.
1x pair of comfortable, waterproof, sturdy walking boots for the trek.
1x pair of comfortable closed-in shoes (trainers or similar), ﬂip ﬂops (optional).
Underwear and socks for 3 – 5 days.
Bring socks that are long enough to tuck your trousers into, as an extra precaution to stop the safari ants from getting in underneath your clothing.
Sleep wear (light weight sweats double up nicely as undergarments for a trek).
Sunglasses and sunhat.
A good book to read, a deck of cards or other travel friendly sized games, your own reusable water bottle (please help us minimise plastic!) or we will provide you with one on arrival!