Preparing for your trip

(almost) Everything
you need to know
in advance...

Suggested travel dates: 

If possible, we recommend spending at least 10 days in the region. There's a lot to see and do! But at minimum, we advise:

• Latest Recommended Arrival date : July 7th
• Earliest Recommended Departure date : July 12th

If you are planning alternative travel dates, note that the wedding venue location (Rubavu, Rwanda) is at least a 3-hour drive from the international airport in Kigali. Because of the winding roads (and beautiful panoramic views of the Rwanda hills!), this drive is best done during the daylight (the sun sets by 6pm).

Searching online for flights: 

Kigali is served by a number of international airlines, including KLM, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenyan Airways. Rwandair also has direct flights to London Gatwick, Brussels and a large number of African capitals. Most of these airlines fly to Kigali maximum once per day so make sure your connection is long enough, otherwise you could be faced with unpleasant delays.

A round trip economy ticket from Europe can cost anywhere between €500-1,000 depending on where you’re flying from and how far in advance you book. We recommend trying to book at least 5 months in advance to get the best flight options.

We usually find the cheapest flight options using the following search engines. These are especially useful for multi-destination trips: 
Skyscanner
Momondo
Google Flights




Budgeting


Here's a chart with a rough idea on how much you can expect to pay for various costs.

This doesn't include extras like safaris, hikes and other activities, as those will very much depend on whether you decide to travel independently (very do-able!) or use the services of  a travel agency (less hassle, more money!). 

For a better idea of how much transport, accommodation & activities will cost, there are suggestions & examples in the 'Things to do in and around Rwanda' section. 

Health & Safety

Safety:
The risk rating for Rwanda and the city of Kigali is very low. Rwanda is among the safest places in Africa. There is a very high police and military presence and crime is rare. However, pick-pocketing in crowded public places does occur, as does petty theft from cars and hotel rooms. It's a good idea to take normal precautions as you would travelling anywhere else to ensure that your valuables are secure. 

Food & Water:
Tap water in Rwanda, while treated, is not safe to drink. We recommend drinking only filtered and bottled water during your visit. Ice is usually made with bottled water so it's generally safe to drink. Kigali has hundreds of international-standard restaurants with great cuisine and generally hygienically prepared food. If you're not used to travelling in developing countries, however, you may wish to be cautious yourself when it comes to salads etc.

Vaccinations & Travel Medicine:
Before traveling, it might be a good idea to visit your GP or travel clinic to make sure that your vaccines are up-to-date, and that you have appropriate medications to bring with you for your trip. The CDC travel advisory for Rwanda is usually the best source of health information to know which vaccines and precautions to take before travelling.

Coronavirus
The government of Rwanda are doing an impressive job of keeping the Covid-19 situation under control. The country re-opened for limited tourism and small gatherings in Jun 2020 and we're confident the context will permit for our wedding in Jul 2021.

Risk of Malaria:
Malaria is a low risk, but it is present throughout Rwanda. Many doctors recommend short-term visitors to take prophylaxis. However, malaria is also easily diagnosed and treated in the region. Consult your travel doctor to discuss whether you want to take prophylaxis, as well as their potential side-effects and counter-indications.

Risk of Bilharzia: 
Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is transmitted through water, and should be considered as a low risk if you are planning to swim in Lake Kivu, or any other fresh water during your visit. If you do swim in a lake during your visit, it's a good idea to pick up some praziquantel and take it  at least 6-8 weeks after your last exposure. Praziquantel can be found at a reasonable price at local pharmacies in Rwanda without prescription. If you are interested, you can learn more about Bilharzia here.

Ebola Virus:
Rwanda has never had a recorded case of Ebola, during the recent DRC outbreak or at any other period. The epicentre of the recent outbreak in the DRC was over 400km from the Rwandan border. As of Jun 2020 the epidemic is very much on the way out.

Yellow Fever Vaccine 
While not required for entry into Rwanda, many neighbouring countries ask for a Yellow Fever Certificate on arrival, including Uganda, Tanzania and DRC.

Embassies
There is no Irish Embassy in Rwanda. The Irish Embassy in Uganda covers consular assistance for Irish citizens visiting Rwanda and can be contacted in an emergency on +256-417-713000.

Many other countries are represented diplomatically in Rwanda, including USA, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Korea, Ethiopia and Egypt. If you are a citizen of one of these countries, it may be worth taking note of the relevant contacts in the event of emergency. 

Arriving at Kigali International Airport

Kigali airport is a small, well-organised airport and is usually a straightforward experience. There’s free wifi you can connect to once you land. Upon arrival, you''ll need to purchase a visa - see more on visas in the section below. Also, keep any plastic bags well stowed in your luggage. Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda and any visible plastic will be confiscated from you. 


To prepare you for the questions you may be asked at the immigration desk, it's a good idea to have your travel dates and accommodation address handy, at least for where you are staying the first night. You may also be asked the reason for your visit and/or contact point in Rwanda, in which case it may be useful to have the following to hand: 
• Contacts in Rwanda: Elly Friel & Patrick Karangwa (Rwandan Residents);
Phone: +250788203302; Address: KG 5 Ave #72 , Kacyiru, Kigali


There are official taxis right at the end of the arrivals ramp. A taxi to most parts of town should cost 10-15,000 RWF (10-15€). This is the easiest way to get to your accommodation.
There is also an ATM in the airport car park. It’s worth withdrawing some money there and then!

Visas

A 30-day Single Entry Tourist Visa to Rwanda is available for all nationalities on arrival at the airport without prior application. For citizens of Commonwealth, Francophonie & African Union member states, this is free of charge (i.e. Belgium, Canada, France, UK, etc.) For all other nationalities,  this costs USD50 (i.e. Ireland, USA, etc.) . It is best to have USD cash available to pay for this at the airport. Credit cards are accepted but the machines are not always working. 

For those interested in visiting Uganda or Kenya, there is an East Africa Tourist Visa available (100 USD). The application for this visa must be done online here ahead of time (processing time is 3 business days, although it’s better to leave 5-7 business days, just in case). Payment can be made online or at the airport. Specific requirements for application vary depending on nationality. Tanzania requires a separate visa, which can usually be obtained on arrival for USD50 for most nationalities.

Money!


• The local currency is the Rwandan Franc (RWF), with a rough exchange rate of €1 = 1,000 RWF. 
• Euros, US Dollars and other major currencies can be exchanged at Forex bureaus and banks across Kigali.
• Credit Cards and ATMs: There are ATMs all over Kigali, and several in Rubavu. Most accept Visa and Mastercard (look out for the symbols). Outside the major towns they are harder to find. Credit cards are accepted at some hotels, restaurants and shops in Rwanda, but not all. It's best to always keep some cash on you. 

Climate

Rwanda is just south of the Equator, and the climate is pleasantly warm all year round. At the same time, the whole country lies at high altitude, so it rarely gets too hot. You will be coming in July which is the dry season. Typically, there should be little to no rain during your visit. During the days, you can expect the temperature to be approximately 25°C (high: 30°C; low: 22°C) and during the nights you can expect it to be approximately 17°C (high: 22°C; low 14°C). Outside of the city it can often feel cool in the evening, so make sure to bring appropriate clothing.

Packing!

Some things that may be useful to remember...

  1. Sun cream - this can be hard to find and expensive to buy in Rwanda
  2. Mosquito repellent/bug spray - especially useful in the evenings
  3. Credit card/ATM card for withdrawing money locally - it can also be useful to warn your bank that you are travelling so they don’t restrict your access)
  4. Power adapter - in Rwanda the “European” two-prong socket is usually used
  5. Unlocked phone - this is useful in order to be able to use a local sim card while in Rwanda
  6. Documentation - passport valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date in Rwanda, with a minimum of 2 blank pages remaining; Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate (if travelling in the region); Contact details of Elly & Patrick in Kigali and hotel bookings.