Rwanda: Visiting Rwanda? Here Are Ten Things You Should Know

In East Africa, Rwanda is undoubtedly one of the most visited destinations, thanks to the various tourist attractions that add up to the security existing in the country.

Famous for beautiful mountain gorillas, lush national parks, unique wildlife and clean cities, it is a destination worthy of anyone's travel list.

More recently, however, the country has recorded a low turn up in the number of tourists due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number is expected to grow as various travel restrictions are lifted. The government has also put efforts in activities such as vaccination, to curb the spread of the virus, especially with the current upsurge in daily confirmed cases.

If you are one of the visitors heading to Rwanda, here are 10 things you should know.

1.Covid-19 protocols

Arriving and departing passengers at Kigali International Airport must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure, and should also comply with existing preventive measures such as wearing a facemask in public.

Currently, the government has restricted travellers from India, Uganda and DR Congo over a surge in Covid-19 cases.

2.Language

Kinyarwanda - the official language of Rwanda- is the commonly used language in the country. However, English, French, and Kiswahili are also official languages, which implies that a high percentage of the population understand any of the additional three languages.

One of the most used words in Kinyarwanda is 'Murakoze' which means 'Thank you', 'Mwaramutse' to mean 'Good morning', and 'Mwiriwe' a salutation commonly used past mid-day.

3.Weather

The warmest annual average temperatures in the country ranges between 20 and 24°C, while the coolest is between less than 17°C and 19°C. Temperatures vary little throughout the year.

4. Places to visit

Besides gorillas at the Virunga National Park that has set tongues wagging, Rwanda has other fascinating sites to visit such as Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest, Lake Kivu, and King's Palace Museum among many others.

The recently launched Kigali Cultural Village also offers a memorable experience to people who love entertainment.

5.Transportation

There are plenty of public buses, motorbikes, and cabs available country-wide. One can call a cab or motorbike to pick them from wherever they are or simply use apps to contact them. One of the latter is Volkswagen's Move application.

If the person opts for public buses, having a tap &go smart card is mandatory. Though the transport fee varies depending on the distance, the minimum fee for public buses is Rwf200, while for motorbikes it is Rwf300.

6. Means of payment

Rwanda had started introducing campaigns to promote cashless payments some time back. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 was a stepping stone to making the idea relevant. Currently, cashless payments are prioritized in transportation, shops, and markets, not to mention hotels and restaurants among others.

7. Currency

The currency often used in Rwanda is Rwandan Francs (Rwf). Fortunately, the availability of forex bureaus in every part of the country makes it easier for someone with other currencies to exchange them for Rwandan Francs. Nonetheless, businesses like high-end hotels and restaurants accept payment with other currencies.

8. Connectivity

With two telecommunication companies in the country, SIM cards of any of the two can be found almost everywhere in the country at a minimum price of Rwf500. Besides internet bundles, there are WiFi in public buses and most public places.

9. Dishes to try-out

Some of the dishes that speak volumes about Rwanda's culture and tradition include cassava mixed with beans, sweet potatoes, isombe (pounded cassava leaves), and Igisafuria - a mixture of different dishes cooked together - to mention but a few.

10. Souvenir

While going out to shop things that will always remind you of your visit to Rwanda, look out for 'Imigongo' which are unique and geometric art pieces and wall hangings. Other things may include jewelry, baskets, and made in Rwanda clothes.

A golden monkey in Gishwati-Mukura National Park located in the north-western part of the country in the districts of Rutsiro and Ngororero. Photo: File.

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