The Safety Travel Tips to Rwanda-Africa, ensures a traveller gets a Safe Stay while Visiting Rwanda and we usher to you about the top facts you need to consider before You go or Visit Rwanda. Rwanda is one of the Magnificent African Great Lakes Countries with a steep Mountainous landscape on the western side and then covered by the undulating Savannah landscapes to the East. The geographical Scope of Rwanda is a hide out to intense Rwanda Tourist attractions that offer the best Things to Do in Rwanda, this has left out hundreds of travellers rushing to visit Rwanda on their Rwanda holiday Safaris
Regardless of Rwanda’s historical Natural beauty one has to consider the Safety travel tips to Rwanda, we highlight the top facts you need to know before you go.
Rwanda banned the use of plastic bags and this is notably evidenced by the Kigali’s main capital city’s appearance; there is no use of non-biodegradable polythene bags. This was was put in place in 2008 by the H.E Paul Kagame- the president of Rwanda. You will encounter with various sign posts all the way from the Airport warning visitors, Luggage searches can be conducted at anytime. If found with these bags, you may be fined about 50,000 Rwanda Francs equivalent to USD 61 or even jailed depending on the seriousness of the offence.
2. Travel Insurance
By Rwandan law, anyone travelling in the country must have health insurance. If you arrive into the country without it, you have 30 days to sort it out. Rwanda’s medical facilities and services are basic so it’s vital that any traveller to Rwanda takes out a travel insurance policy with adequate medical coverage including air medical evacuation.
3. Crime in Rwanda
Rwanda is one of the safest destinations in Africa, particularly for solo travellers. Crime is relatively low, with visitors sometimes experiencing petty crime, and locals are welcoming, friendly and hospitable. Pickpockets are active in crowded places, such as markets, and hire cars may be broken into for valuables. Violent crimes against travellers are rare.
Women travellers are advised to dress modestly out of respect for the local culture.
4. Getting Around
Rwanda has a well-established and reliable bus network between major cities, towns and neighbouring countries. Make sure you buy your tickets from the bus company counters as scammers and touts hang around the transport terminals waiting for unsuspecting travellers. Mini-busses are a common form of public transport around the capital, Kigali and to other major towns. They are cheaper however, the downside is that the bus won’t leave unless it’s full and there is no structured timetable. Plus they can be packed, rather uncomfortable for long trips and often end up in road vehicle incidents.
Licensed taxis can be found at Kigali International Airport, and around the capital and are easily identified by their white colour, orange stripe and roof sign. While not as cheap as public transport, they are the safest mode of private transport however, you will need to either pick one up at a designated rank or get your hotel/restaurant to call for one. The taxi should have a meter; if it doesn’t negotiate the fare before hopping in.
You can hire a car to explore Rwanda but driving at night is not advised, largely due to the poor road conditions and unlit roads in rural locations. Landslides and flooding can also present danger to drivers during the rainy seasons in autumn and late spring.
5. Borders: Rwanda – Uganda
For the past two years, a political dispute between the two countries has continued to deepen, with the Rwandan government closing its border to Uganda and advising its citizens not to travel to Uganda. Travellers should check with government authorities before attempting to cross.
Rwanda – Burundi
Government travel advisories warn travellers to reconsider their need to travel within 6mi (10km) of the border due to crime and the ongoing conflict between the government and rebel groups. This area also includes the Nyungwe Forest National Park and Volcanoes National Park.
Relations between the two countries are strained, with Burundi banning public transport from Rwanda, and Rwanda implementing trade restrictions on food entering the country from Burundi. Border crossings can close at any time. Burundi is considered a do not travel destination due to the high-security risk. The country is experiencing high levels of violent crime, conflict and terrorism.
Rwanda – The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Government travel advisories indicate that the border crossings between Rwanda and the DRC can close without notice, so travellers are advised not to rely on them. There is also a heightened security risk near the border due to local conflicts between government forces and militia groups in North and South Kivu provinces. Kidnapping, robbery and sexual assaults have occurred.
The Rwandan Ministry of Health has a quarantine measure in place for anyone who arrives into Rwanda from an Ebola affected province in the DRC.
6. Local Laws
Drug possession, use and trafficking is illegal in Rwanda, with offenders receiving heavy fines and potential jail time
Photography of military, government buildings and border crossing points is prohibited
Drink driving is illegal and punishable by a fine and jail time. Using a cell phone while driving is also illegal
Inappropriate and divisive talk about the Rwandan genocide can result in financial penalties and imprisonment.
7. Gorilla Trek Safety
The mountain gorillas are one of Rwanda’s main tourism draw cards and the government has taken measures to protect these animals and ensure that tourism is sustainable and safe. Travellers must book a guided tour to see the gorillas for safety reasons such as bandits, civil unrest, potential injury and for the safety of the animals themselves. Controlled tourism prevents any potential health risk to the gorillas as they are susceptible to diseases plus reduces the risk of human-gorilla interactions where people may be injured or killed.
8. LGBTQ Safety
Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Rwanda but it’s not widely accepted and still considered a taboo. The country is still conservative, with local LGBTQ people experiencing prejudice however there are other African countries which are considered more homophobic. Kigali does have a few gay-friendly spots but it’s best for safety reasons that LGBTQ travellers remain discreet at all times.
Malaria is present all across Rwanda and the government has taken significant steps to try and eradicate this disease with various community initiatives such as mosquito nets, house spraying and rapid medical assessment and treatment. To learn more about how you can protect yourself and stay healthy while travelling, check out our travel health article for Rwanda.
10. Rwandan Genocide
In 1994, the Rwandan government instigated the genocide during the civil war, which saw hundreds of thousands of Tutsi, moderate Hutus and Twa people murdered. Over 2 million Rwandans were displaced, with many people missing and families torn apart. With changes in government since the genocide, there has been considerable work done to move beyond this horrible and tragic event in order to create a more positive and safe future for all Rwandans.
Laws around the genocide are strictly enforced and the promotion of racist or divisive behaviour is illegal and punishable by fines and jail time. Travellers are advised to keep any talk about the genocide respectful and it’s advised to avoid talking about it. Many locals have been affected by the atrocity and still experience trauma. Travellers should also avoid referring to locals by their ethnicity. To learn more, visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial.