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Landlocked East African Rwanda has had a troubled recent history. Now however, the scars are thankfully healing and Rwanda is firmly back on the travel map.

Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is a land of great natural beauty and a superb ecotourism destination. Most people come here to see the silverback mountain gorillas made famous by the film Gorillas in the Mist.

When you’re not tracking animals, partying in Kigali, watching Intore dancers in Virunga or trekking to volcanoes, enjoy just hanging out with the warm and friendly Rwandans themselves.

You can’t miss

Our featured blogger, Stuart Forster, gets up close and personal with a moody mountain gorilla – and lives to tell the tale
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Kinyarwanda (official) Kiswahili, French and English
9 million
Int. dial code
Time zone
230 V 50 Hz
Rwanda Franc (RWF). US dollars are easy to exchange. Most ATMs only accept local bank cards and credit cards are rarely accepted. If you get unstuck there are Western Union offices in most main towns.
Rwanda travel advice
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Wanderlust recommends

Trek into the Virungas to go gorilla watching

Visit the Genocide Memorial

Have lunch at Nyamirambo Women’s Centre in Kigali – a full-on cultural experience

Spot hippos, elephants and buffalo in Akagera National Park

Go trekking in the Nyungwe Forest – epic mountain scenery and fern-fringed waterfalls

Wanderlust tips

You’ll need a permit to go gorilla tracking in Rwanda. They can sell out months in advance so book as far ahead as you can. Tour operators can do this for you. If you’re travelling independently either ask a reliable local tour operator to help.

When to go

The main dry season is between June and September with a shorter, unpredictable one from December to early March. The dry seasons are excellent times to visit the gorillas, as mosquito activity is at a minimum and the volcanic tracks can get quite muddy during the rains. October and November, when fruits ripen, is a good time to look for chimpanzees.

International airports

Kigali International Airport (KGL) – 13km from the city

Getting around

From the central minibus station in Kigali, swarms of minibuses inexpensively ply Rwanda. There is no rail service. There are a handful of internal flights and in Kigali there are several places where you can rent a car. Rwanda is great for mountain-bikers although you’ll need to bring your own bike and spares.


Rwanda has international standard hotels in the major towns. Mid-range hotels and guesthouses are generally available elsewhere. Homestays are on the up and are a great way to meet local people. Campsites are limited.

Food & drink

Thanks to its Belgian colonisers, Rwanda does great chips: Western-influenced restaurants often serve them with simply with chicken, steak or fish.

Local favourites include goat kebabs, bean and meat stews, chapatti, matoke (plantain) and ugali (maize porridge). The drink of choice is sweet, milky tea; popular alcoholic beverages include beer and waragi, a clear, millet-based Ugandan spirit.

Health & safety

Check you are up to date with vaccinations and speak to your GP about malaria prophylaxis. Don’t drink the tap water. Rwanda is relatively hassle-free and friendly.