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This page covers all the essential travel information you will need to know for your journey to Rwanda.
The content is divided into the four phases of travel: PHASE 1: Planning Your Trip. PHASE 2: Booking Your Trip. PHASE 3: Preparing to Travel. PHASE 4: Travelling. There is additional good to know information at the end.

The most essential information

The most essential things you need to prepare, which are your responsibility:

1. Your passport validity & available blank pages

2. Relevant visas for the countries you are visiting

3. Health requirements – vaccinations & malaria consultation

4. Travel insurance

5. Luggage requirements

PHASE 1: Planning your trip
Rwanda travel seasons


  • The dry seasons, from June to September and December to February, are generally considered the best times for gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
  • During these months, the weather is more favourable, and trekking conditions are usually better.
  • While it is possible to trek and visit Rwanda to see mountain gorillas outside of the optimal times of the year, it’s important to consider that the trekking experience may be more challenging due to rainfall and the presence of steep, muddy hiking paths.
  • Passports are required by all foreign visitors.
  • Passports MUST be valid for at least six months from your return home date.
  • There must be between two and three blank pages in a passport at all times (not endorsement pages). This is over and above what you will need for cross-border stamps during your travels. You may be denied boarding if you do not have sufficient pages in your passport. If you are travelling to multiple countries, please discuss the amount of blank pages you will require with your Travel Manager.
Rwandan Visas
  • As soon as you have confirmed your trip, it is imperative to check visa requirements with foreign embassies/consulates of the countries that you intend to visit as it may vary according to your nationality.
  • Citizens of all countries are allowed to get a visa upon arrival without prior application in Rwanda
  • The visa fee is USD50 for a single entry visa or USD70 for multiple entry.
  • If you want to arrive with a visa, you can Apply Online for Visa here. Please note the translate button on the top right of this link.
  • Some countries have vaccination requirements, and some safari regions have malaria risk. If you have any concerns, please let your travel manager know.
  • Please advise your Travel Manager as early as possible if you require special medical attention (such as a gluten-free menu for someone with coeliac disease), need special facilities (such as a wheelchair-friendly environment) or if you are travelling with a CPAP machine.
  • Gorilla trekking involves moderate to strenuous physical activity, including hiking through dense vegetation and uneven terrain. It is recommended to be in reasonably good physical condition to fully enjoy the experience. Visitors with specific health concerns or conditions should consult a healthcare professional before embarking on the trek. Visitors with conditions that preclude taxing physical activity are advised to consult a doctor or physician prior to trekking and are required to provide a certificate of health.
  • The treks take place at an altitude of 2 500 to 3 000 meters above sea level which may have an effect on you, even if you are fit. If you are concerned about altitude sickness, please discuss it with your local health provider before travelling.
Gorilla trekking
  • The Rwandan Development Board charges USD 1 500 per gorilla trek permit, per person. This permit will give you one guaranteed hour with a gorilla family (this is non-refundable). Only 96 permits are issued each day, and for this reason, it’s a good idea to acquire yours ahead of time, to make sure this part of your trip is secured. Read our article about where your Gorilla Trekking Permit Funds go towards »
  • Gorilla sightings are reliable, but weather affects viewing. Trekking occurs regardless of the weather.
  • The minimum trekking age is 15. This is to ensure health and infection prevention for the gorillas.
  • To fully enjoy the experience without rushing, we advise against planning a trek on your departure day due to the unpredictable timing involved.
  • The gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park takes place at elevations of 2 500 to 3 000 meters above sea level, not high enough for altitude sickness to be a major concern but sufficient to have an effect – no matter how fit – on people who have just flown in from a low altitude.
PHASE 2: Booking your trip

1. Check your passport is valid and has enough pages

2. Check your visa requirements Apply Online for Visa here »

  • It is imperative and strongly recommended that guests take out comprehensive travel insurance. Covering for personal effects, personal accidents, medical & emergency travel expenses, cancellation & curtailment.
  • Dependent on your insurance company, “cancellation for any reason” insurance must be taken within a specific time frame of the first payment as set by your insurer.
  • Most insurance offered by credit cards does not provide sufficient coverage.
  • Please check you are fully covered before traveling.
  • Read our article: The Importance of Having Travel Insurance »
Malaria & Yellow Fever requirements

Precautions against malaria: Please consult your physician or local travel clinic before you travel to Rwanda.
Read our article: Considering Malaria when Travelling to Africa »
Read our article: Considering Yellow Fever when Travelling to Africa »

Precautions against Yellow Fever: Please consult with your GP or local travel clinic for details.

  • The information we offer for Yellow Fever requirements is based on advice from The World Health Organisation (WHO). They advise which countries have a risk of yellow fever transmission and which countries require yellow fever vaccination as well as the procedures implemented in each country.
  • For entry into all Southern African countries, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya:
    A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is only required for travellers 1 year of age and older if they are coming from, or who are in airport transit for more than 12 hours within, a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission (countries designated Yellow Fever).
  • Your country of origin and other African countries like South Africa will also deny re-entry without vaccination, after having visited a country with Yellow Fever.
  • Existing and new yellow fever vaccination certificates are now valid for life.
  • You must have the vaccination at least 10 days before you plan on entering a yellow fever area.
  • Please consult your physician for exemption on medical grounds.
PHASE 3: Preparing to travel

1. Check your passport is valid and has enough pages

2. Check your visa requirements Apply Online for Visa here »

3. Have you consulted your GP or local travel clinic regarding inoculations and required malaria medication?


Download our Rwanda & Primate Trekking Packing List here »


  • The suggested dress code is ‘informal yet respectful’.
  • Daytime temperatures are generally warm, so pack lightweight clothing and sun protection.
  • The evenings tend to be cooler and a sweater, wrap or jacket will be useful.
  • Avoid wearing dark blue and black in Akagera National Park as these colours attract tsetse flies.
  • Take sensible precautions against mosquitos and other bites.
  • In case of an issue with international airline luggage management, please pack you essentials items and a change of clothes in your carry on bag.

Download the full guide here »

  • In Rwanda, you may need trekking clothes, sightseeing clothes and safari clothes depending on where you are going.
  • Most lodges have a daily complimentary laundry.
  • It is not always necessary to buy special clothes for safari, you can adapt clothes you would normally wear.
  • Dress in lightweight layers & choose neutral colours (not brights, patterns, or camouflage prints).
  • One trek outfit is fine as most lodges will wash your clothes and clean your shoes as soon as you return from the trek.
Holly's trekking outfit

Holly in her gorilla trekking outfit

What shoes to wear when trekking

Light waterproof hiking or all-terrain shoes


If you’re planning on going gorilla or chimpanzee trekking, one of the most important things to consider is your footwear. Wearing the right kind of trekking shoes can make all the difference in ensuring a successful and enjoyable experience. The last thing you want is to attempt a trek in footwear that will not provide the necessary support and traction needed for the terrain. Read our article: What shoes to wear on your gorilla trek »

  • Rwanda’s currency is the Rwandese Franc (RWF). USD is widely accepted.
  • It is recommended to travel with US dollars as most banks and Forex Bureaus do not accept travellers cheques in exchange for cash.
  • ATM machines are limited to major cities.
  • Credit cards are usually accepted at major hotels, lodges, and shopping areas in Rwanda (except local markets).
  • VISA and Mastercard are mainly accepted.

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, followed by Tigo. 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 wifi is available in higher-end hotels.
  • Should there be an urgent message for a guest while they are on safari, your agent will pass it to your driver guide.

Tipping is entirely at your discretion. It is suggested, but not compulsory.
On request, your Travel Manager will create a bespoke tipping guide for your personal holiday.
Read our article: Timeless gratuity philosophy »

When planning your gratuities, please consider that Rwanda has brought back gorillas from the brink of extinction and in the process given so many people & communities jobs and an income. The tourism and conservation industries work hand in hand and without one, you couldn’t have the other.

Gratuity guidelines for primate treks:

  • Gorilla/Chimp ranger (the ranger is with you from headquarters and stays with you for the entire trekking experience): USD 20+ per guest, per trek
  • Gorilla/Chimp tracker (the trackers are in the national park tracking the gorillas’ movements and you will meet up with them on your trek): USD 10-20 per guest, per trek
  • Trekking Porters (porters will assist you personally while you are on your trek): USD 10-20 per guest
  • We suggest bringing more cash with you in case you are moved by the whole professionalism and warmth of the experience, that you would like to tip more than you planned.

Gratuity guidelines for cities & hotels/lodges:

  • Specialist driver-guide (who will accompany and drive you throughout your stay and usually do your airport transfers): USD 20 per guest daily
  • Airport transfers (if a different person to your specialist driver-guide): USD 5-10 per guest
  • Airport porters: At your discretion
  • Waiters (for meals & drinks): 10% of consumption
  • We recommend asking the hotels and lodges if you can leave a gratuity for the general staff on check out.

** Remember this is only a guideline and it entirely depends on the level of service and your desires.

PHASE 4: Travelling
Gorilla & Chimp Trekking
  • Gorilla sightings are reliable, but weather affects viewing. Trekking occurs regardless of weather.
  • To minimize impact on gorilla families, the maximum visitors per group is eight, with an hour-long viewing limit.
  • The minimum trekking age is 15. This is to ensure health and infection prevention for the gorillas.
  • Unwell guests are not allowed on gorilla treks.
  • The wearing of face masks on the gorillas treks is mandatory, even for photographs.
  • No smoking or spitting in the national park.
Gorilla Trek Guide Highlights:

Read our full gorilla trekking guide »
This guide gives you a full description of the trek

  • A lot of the trekking gear you will need is provided by the hotels and lodges
  • If you have any mobility issues, or injuries or are worried about the physical aspect of the trekking, please let your guide know in advance
  • We highly recommend hiring a porter
  • Once you first see the gorillas, you will have one hour to spend with them.
  • You will need to wear a mask at all times while you are with the gorillas, even in photos.
  • Remember your hat and sunblock.

Trekkers in Rwanda looking at chimps in the trees

Chimp Trek Guide Highlights:

Read our full chimp trekking guide »
This guide gives you a full description of the trek

  • A lot of the trekking gear you will need is provided by the hotels and lodges
  • This trek can be long, brisk and tough depending on how far into the forest the chimps are, therefore moderate fitness is required.
  • We highly recommend hiring a porter
  • Bring your own pair of binoculars, a hat and sunblock
  • Enjoy the beauty of the forest, the chimps are a small part of the experience.
  • Don’t plan anything in the afternoon after your trek other than a well-deserved massage!

In tourism, it is most important to conserve our wildlife and its habitat. Without the income generated from tourists, conservation would not be possible.

Timeless Tips:

  • Do not feed any wildlife of any description.
  • Do not dispose of any litter, keep it in our vehicles until you find a suitable bin.
  • Do not collect any natural objects as souvenirs. Collecting trophies is illegal.
  • While watching and photographing game it is not permitted to approach too close.

Note: Harassment of wildlife in any form is strictly illegal. Please do not ask your driver to break the rules, he could be arrested and his vehicle impounded.

Safety & Security

Rwanda and its capital city Kigali is a safe country to travel in.

Timeless Tips:

  • As with any destination, do take care of personal belongings.
  • Make use of recommended taxis rather than walking around at night.
  • Make use of the safety deposit facility provided by hotels and lodges.
  • Never leave money and/or valuables in the vehicles or rooms unattended, keep them in a safe place.
Safari vehicles & Roads
  • The main roads are paved and in good condition.
  • Upon departure from each lodge please check that your entire luggage has been put in the vehicle.
  • It is best to carry your hand luggage.

Timeless Tip: always be on time to avoid driving in a rush.


Read our tips for taking photos of wildlife »

Rwanda is a “photographer’s paradise”, featuring great scenery and magnificent landscapes.

  • Keep the lenses of your cameras shut as dust might affect them.
  • Please be respectful about photographing the local people.
  • If you want to photograph people ask your driver for advice on how to proceed.

Note: It is illegal to photograph any government officials in line of their duties. The same goes for military bases, equipment, embassies, and airports, etc.

Drinking water & Food
  • The water in Rwanda at lodges and hotels is safe to drink, however, we do advise that you stick to bottled drinking water (mineral water). Bottled water is readily available at your hotel and lodge and restaurants. The guide will supply water in the vehicle complimentary for use on the safari and trekking. Ice in the lodges is made from filtered water and is safe for consumption.
  • Food in Rwanda’s hotels, lodges and restaurants is safe and hygienic and is prepared to internationally acceptable standards.
Meeting people & communication

When meeting someone for the first time it is usual to shake the right hands and exchange a greeting in one of the most spoken languages i.e. Kinyarwanda, French, or English. On parting again shake right hands. Try and use one or two Kinyarwanda greetings. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated.

  • Thank you: Urakoze
  • Excuse me: Mbabarira
  • See you soon. Ni aho mu kanya

While visiting the different areas in Rwanda your driver guides can recommend curio shops, where traditional souvenirs are on sale, or a visit to the market on your city tour. Ask your Travel Manager about what to buy while in Kigali. Make sure to bring cash with you – estimate USD 100 – USD 200 depending on what kind of shopper you are.

You can have traditional Rwandan clothes made for you out of local fabric. This can be arranged at the local markets or at the lodges.

Good to know:
  • The Rwandan power supply is – 240 volts / 50 cycles – AC.
  • Most plugs are French Type 2-pin round, and most lodges supply adaptors at reception for 3-pin equipment. This may require a small deposit.

Rwanda’s relatively high altitude provides it with a remarkably pleasant tropical highland climate, albeit also with plenty of rain.

  • Rwanda’s long rainy season lasts from March to May when the rain is heavy and persistent.
  • June to mid-September is the long dry season
  • October to November is a shorter rainy season
  • December to February is a short dry season

Temperatures vary considerably between locations depending on their altitude, but very little from month to month in the same place. In the capital, Kigali, the average daily temperature is about 21°C.

Virunga’s high altitude occasionally brings light rain showers even in the dry season. There are lots of water masses (Lakes & Rivers) and therefore high humidity in generally the whole country.

Rwandan Public Holidays
  • 1 January: New Year’s Day
  • 1 February: Heroes Day
  • 7 April: Genocide Memorial Day. Followed by a Memorial week
  • Good Friday: no specific day and date
  • 1 May: Labour Day
  • 1 July: Independence Day
  • 4 July: Liberation Day
  • 15 August: Assumption Day
  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • Eid El-Fitr: no specific day and date

Other public holidays may be announced by the cabinet of ministers or the Ministry of Public Service and Labour

Flights and Transfers

Check-in is at least one hour prior to departure for domestic flights and at least two and a half hours prior for international flights. Some scheduled regional flights may involve multiple stops before reaching the final destination. Please note that weather conditions may prevent direct flight by private charter. Checked-in and hand luggage should always be locked. Wear or keep any valuables on your person.

Hotel Check-In Times

In accordance with international practice, hotel and lodge check-in/ out times are generally as follows:

  • Check-in: 14h00
  • Check-out: 11h00
The above information was created with the sole purpose of sharing information and Timeless Africa Safaris assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors, changes or omissions in the content of this site. 

In this article
  • Most Essential Information
  • PHASE 1: Planning Your Trip
  • PHASE 2: Booking Your Trip
  • PHASE 3: Preparing to Travel
  • PHASE 4: Travelling
  • Good to know

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