CLASSIC KENYA AND RWANDA EXPEDITION

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Kenya

Resting in the magnificent Great Rift Valley and presided over by the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya is characterised by hauntingly beautiful natural landscapes of forested hills, patchwork farms, wooded savanna and vast forests brimming with an extraordinary abundance of wildlife. The nation’s diverse range of traditional African cultures is influenced by over 70 unique ethnic groups from the Maasai, Samburu, Kikuyu, and Turkana tribes to the Arabs and Indians that settled on the coast. Add to this: an exquisite tropical coastline fringed with breathtaking golden sand beaches; gorgeous coral gardens providing excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities; and a slew of lively beach resorts, and it is easy to see why so many visitors flock here from around the world to experience a truly unique African adventure in one of the world’s most pristine safari destinations.


Entry Requirements

KENYA: VISA REQUIREMENTS

A visa is required for entry into Kenya for most people (see below for exceptions). An ordinary visa (also known as a tourist visa) is used by tourists. This visa is issued at any Kenyan embassy, or can be issued on arrival at an entry point to citizens of any country listed in Category 2 in the Visas section of the Immigration website (link below). It grants tourists / visitors the authorization to enter the country through designated entry points on the border, through airports, and harbour stations.

Please note that the possession of a Kenyan visa is not the final authority to enter Kenya. The immigration officer at the port of entry may deny entry if the visitor is unable to fulfil the immigration requirements and if the entry and presence of such a person in Kenya would be contrary to the national interests of Kenya, even if such a person is in possession of a valid visa for Kenya.

Visa Descriptions:

1. Single Entry - Allows you to enter into Kenya once (see also note below)

2. Transit - Allows a short stop over (up to 3 days) in Kenya (see also note below).

3. Multiple Entry - Allows entry multiple times into Kenya.

Note: No visa is required for direct transit (not leaving the secure area of the airport, aka staying 'airside', within the airport terminal) between two flights. If you are in transit but leave the secure area of the airport, for example for an overnight stay between flights, for a period of less than 24 hours then a transit visa is required.

Note: A single entry visa will allow re-entry to Kenya from any of the following East African countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda.

Visa Requirements

Obtained in advance: By E-Visa or through a Kenyan Foreign Embassy.

1. A complete visa application form. A copy of the form is available on the web -http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html or at any Kenyan embassy.

2. Valid passport (at least 6 months before expiration). There must be at least two facing blank visa pages available, one for the Kenya visa sticker and one facing for the stamps.

3. 1 passport size photograph recently taken.

4. Travel Itinerary

5. Hotel booking

6. A return ticket

7. Visa fee (see below).

Obtained on Arrival:

1. A complete visa application form. A copy of the form is available on the web, at any Kenyan embassy, or at any entry point into Kenya.

2. Valid passport (at least 6 months before expiration). There must be at least two facing blank visa pages available, one for the Kenya visa sticker and one facing for the stamps.

3. Travel Itinerary

4. Hotel booking

5. A return ticket

6. Visa fee (see below).

Note: No photographs are required for a visa on arrival as you are photographed and finger printed at the Immigration desk.

Visa Fees:

1. Single entry visa - US$50.00 or £30 or €40

2. Multiple entry visa - US$110.00 or £60

3. Transit visa - US$20.00 or £10

Note: See below under 'additional information' for information about the cost of a 'referency fee', if required.


Non-tourists:

If you are not a tourist, for example a business traveler, contact any Kenyan embassy for additional information.


Additional Information:

No visa is required for nationals of the following countries:

Barbados, Maldives, St. Lucia, Belize, Malta, Swaziland, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles, Brunei Darussalam, Namibia, The Gambia, Burundi, Nauru, Tanzania, Cyprus, Papua New Guinea, The Bahamas, Dominica, Rwanda, Tonga, Fiji Island, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Samoa, Tuvalu, Grenada, St. Kitts and Navis, Uganda, Jamaica, Sierra Leona, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Singapore, Zambia, Lesotho, Solomon Islands, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa (for less than 30 days stay), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Malaysia (for less than 30 days stay), Ethiopia, Eritrea, San Marino

Holders of U.S Refugee Travel Documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security (Greencard Holders/Permanent Residents) and nationals (passport holders) of the countries listed below shall have their visa applications referred to the Director of Immigration Services, Nairobi for approval. The processing varies from case to case. In addition, when a visa application is referred to the Director of Immigration Services Nairobi, a non-refundable reference fee of US $5 shall be collected at the time of application. This fee will be in addition to any other visa fee and will not be refunded if a visa is issued or is not issued.

Afghanistan, Senegal, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Eritrea, Somalia, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Cameroon, Mali, Palestine, Iraq, Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, Tajikistan


For more information on the visa application process and visa categories based on nationalities, please visit www.immigration.go.ke or http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html


Banking and Currency

MONEY:

The currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES; symbol KSh). 1 Kenyan Shilling = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KSh1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KSh20, 10, 5 and 1.

The local currency is the Kenyan shilling, and the Tanzanian shilling respectively.

1 US dollar = 100 Kenyan shillings; (this changes based on the currency flactuation)

Please respect the local currency and note that it is a criminal offence in both countries to damage or tear the local currency.

Money may be changed easily at airports, hotels, banks and forex bureau. Please avoid changing money in the street with money vendors, as they are operating illegally.

It is unnecessary to carry excessive amounts of money (on safari, all meals are included, except for the drinks) and credit cards are widely accepted for payment of meals outside the meal plan, hotel extras, shopping etc

The equivalent of USD 100 per person is a guideline for exchange, as you may use your credit cards such as VISA or MASTERCARD for any additional costs, in most of the places you will visit.

Traveller´s Cheques are also a safe and simple method of payment; however you may have some problems with regard to their acceptance whilst on safari.

If at the end of the safari, you have any left over local currency, this may be changed back into dollars, at the airport.

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding US$5,000 or equivalent must be declared.

Banking

Banking hours: Monday-Friday 09h00-16h00, Saturday 09h00-12h00. Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas typically open and close half an hour earlier.

Credits Cards are widely accepted in all major hotels and more upmarket establishments, with the most recognized being Master Card and Visa. American Express and Diners Club cards are occasionally accepted. However, you will need some cash handy because smaller shops will only accept cash.

Almost every bank now has an ATM, and they are increasingly being installed at, malls, shopping centres and petrol stations in cities and large towns.

Travellers cheques are no longer accepted in Kenya.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Nairobi has two airports for domestic and international flights: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport (www.kaa.go.ke).

Mombasa has one airport for both domestic and international flights - Mombasa International Airport

Kenya has over 150 domestic airports and airstrips and there are daily flights to the most popular destinations. In addition to the scheduled airlines, several private charter companies operate out of Wilson Airport.

Kenya Airways (www.kenya-airways.com), Air Kenya (www.airkenya.com), Fly 540 (www.fly540.com), Mombasa Air Safari (www.mombasaairsafari.com) and Safarilink (www.flysafarilink.com) serve the most popular safari destinations, plus many others such as Lake Victoria.

On smaller, domestic planes the baggage allowance is restricted to maximum 15 kg (22-33 lbs). Arrangements can be made to leave excess luggage with your Kenya tour operator, hotels or airlines

Main roads between the major cities and towns are generally in good condition, and easily navigatable in a normal saloon car. Most highways are paved.Vehicles are driven on the left side of the road.

While major roads are generally in a good condition, most minor gravel roads deteriorate in the rainy season. Dirt roads, including those in the parks and reserves, are rough, and some are only passable with a 4-wheel drive.

You can hire chauffeur-driven cars from your travel agents and international hire companies. Self-drive although highly discouraged for new drivers in Kenya is an option. Drivers must be at least 23 years of age. Car hire can be expensive and rates vary significantly.
A driving licence from a home country (and a translation if this is not in English) or an International Driving Permit is required. Third-party insurance is mandatory when hiring a car and it’s recommended to take out the additional collision damage waiver. A valid credit card is also needed.

Matatus (shared minibus taxis) hop from town to town, starting and finishing at bus stations. Fares are paid to the conductor. Private taxis can also be hired for long-distance journeys.

It is not possible to rent motorbikes or mopeds but some of the beach resorts hire out bicycles.

Numerous private bus companies operate in Kenya. Most vehicles tend to depart when full, which means there are no set timetables. Petty theft on the vehicles and at bus stations can be a problem. Nevertheless, buses are cheap and link all long-distance destinations. Plus, seatbelts are now mandatory, so buses are relatively safe.

Nairobi and Mombasa have efficient local bus systems and there are also frequent matatus, but reckless driving and petty theft makes them a dodgy option for tourists. Three-wheeled auto rickshaws are popular in the coastal towns and carry up to three passengers.

Online taxis service Uber is now in Kenya, available both in Nairobi and Mombasa and other online taxis options are coming up in Nairobi, these service are reliable and have meters. The older yellow taxis do not have meters, so fares should be agreed in advance. Cabs cannot be hailed in the street, but can be found parked in taxi ranks.


Health and Medical Information

HEALTH:

A certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required. Malaria is endemic to Kenya and Tanzania, so please remember to take anti-malaria tablets. In case of any medical emergency, your hotel will have a doctor on call, or will have the medicine you may require, including the parks on safari.

All the same, please take the following precautions:

Dress in warm clothing in the evenings and at night; use repellants against mosquitoes and use insecticide sprays in rooms before sleeping (or before going for dinner). This area is right at the Equator, and the hot sun can cause sunburn very quickly- including on cloudy days.

Sun creams, lip balm, hats and sunglasses are recommended.

Although tap water in the big towns is potable, we advise you to drink mineral water always. In the hotels/ lodges during the safaris, there is always a jar/bottle/thermos of filtered water in the rooms, which is convenient for using for cleaning your teeth.

The mineral water in the hotels/ lodges has quite an elevated price. You may buy some bottled water at the local supermarkets at a more reasonable price.


Safety Notices

As it is the case in most regions of the world, security is a topic that should be kept in mind. Nairobi and Mombasa are generally safe during the day, as long as narrow alleys or isolated streets are avoided. We advise you not to walk in the streets in the dark. If you wish to travel by night, always call for a taxi.

Don’t carry a lot of money with you when you go out; only the amount you think you will spend. While walking in the streets, don’t wear jewellery or valuables that bring attention to you.

Please leave all valuables (jewellery, travel documents, cameras etc) in the safes or safety deposit boxes of the hotel you are staying at.

Please don’t leave anything of value lying around your hotel room.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

FOOD:

During the safari, all your meals will be taken in the hotels.

In Nairobi and Arusha, generally only breakfast is included with lunch and dinner billed separately.

The food is of an excellent quality and you may eat all the types of fruits and vegetables without worry. The meal plan is usually as follows:

Full breakfast, between 0700 hrs and 0930 hrs;

Buffet lunch, served from about 1230 hrs;

Tea and coffee, served from 1600 hrs to 1800 hrs;

Dinner served from 1930hrs to 2130hrs, at the table. Generally, we choose the second course and dessert. Most of the hotels have both local and imported beers and wines, liquors, fruit juices and refreshments available. Drinks are not included (unless otherwise stated).

If you require a special diet or are vegetarian, please make sure you communicate this to the reception at the time of your arrival at the hotel.

Nairobi has some of the finest eating establishments in Africa. Many different cuisines and types of restaurants are available, from fast food to fancy. Many five-star hotels have excellent restaurants. Restaurants are many in Nairobi. The local cuisine is also worth trying out, particullarly Pilau-a chicken and rice dish, cabbage and rice; and the staple food in Kenya-Ugali, made from maze flour.

Many restaurants can be found downtown and in most areas of the urban centres however if you're looking for a real authentic experience away from most tourists, places like Ayani, Olympic, Kibera, and other places have the more authentic food. Among the many cuisines available are Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, German and French restaurants. Fast food restaurants are common in malls which are in every area of Nairobi .


Climate and Weather

Kenya lies on the equator and has a pleasant tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations influenced by several factors, including altitude. Temperatures drop by about 6°C for every 1000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 1000ft). Kenya’s daytime temperatures average between 20°C/68°F and 28°C/82°F, but it is warmer on the coast. The coast is hot and humid all year round, but the heat is pleasant and tempered by the monsoon winds. Kenya is too close to the equator to experience a real winter and summer. There is, however, both a dry and wet season. The wet seasons are from March to June and from October to Mid December. The rest of the time it is dry although significantly cold (atleast for the Kenyan person) during the months of July and August.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Comfortable, casual clothing that is lightweight is the best bet while on safari. It can be quite cool in the early mornings, so you'll want to dress warmly in layers, until the sun has a chance to warm up the air. "Kenya Convertibles", khaki pants with zip-off legs, are perfect for cool early morning game drives that turn warm before you're back in camp. Walking shorts, long pants, cotton shirts and tees are just right. A cotton bush jacket or wind-breaker will be useful along with a warm sweater or fleece jacket for the cool nights, long-sleeves and trousers for the nights for protection against insects, and a light raincoat in case it rains. And, a hat that ties on is a must. There is not a good deal of long walking or hiking on most safaris, so a comfortable pair of walking shoes or tennis shoes and a pair of sandals should be adequate. You will need thorn-proof soles.

In Kenya's major cities the dress code is conservative but not overly formal – jeans and decent tops for women are fine. Swimsuits are acceptable on the beach but you’ll need to cover up in public places.


Electricity and Plug Standards

ELECTRICITY:

Most hotels use generators which function only in the morning, and at night. We use 240 volts and plugs with three spokes (UK). An adapter is all that you will need and are mostly available at the hotel receptions if you forget to carry one. A small deposit is required as security when you borrow the transformer, which is refundable.


General Guidance

IT IS CONVENIENT TO TRAVEL LIGHT:

The safari vehicles do not have a lot of luggage capacity and for this reason, we recommend soft, light luggage. In any hotel with a stay of 2 days or more, laundry service is available.

WE RECOMMEND YOU CARRY:

Binoculars (INDISPENSABLE).

Many more rolls of film than what you thought enough! up to 100 Photos per day during the safari. (It

doesn’t weigh much, and could be slightly more expensive here).

A torch.

Insect repellant.

Lip balms and sun creams.

Coloured biro pens, pencils, pictures, small books, balloons, etc. to give out as presents in case you visit a local village (they are more appropriate than sweets, and are more appreciated).

Disposable lighters, caps, scarves, T-shirts, etc. as “barter material” in souvenir shops (although in actuality, no “barter” without some money changing hands, exists!).

Waist pouches for carrying money, passports and small valuables are very practical.

DON’T CARRY:

Your gold Communion medal, diamonds, Grandmother’s pearls, gold watches, $200 sunglasses, etc.

In other words, carry things that will not be sorely missed in case of loss.

TIPPING:

Most people, when visiting a foreign country, like to be given some guideline regarding tipping. Yet, this is truly voluntary and extremely personal matter. A tip is an indication of appreciation on the part of the guest for the services given and IS ONLY GIVEN WHEN THE SERVICE WAS UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS, and is paid after all the services have been completed, and is NEVER OBLIGATORY. A guideline for each traveler follows below:-

Restaurants: These guidelines are for lunches and dinners you may enjoy on your own, which are not included in your itinerary. If the menu says 10% service charge included, you do not need to tip. Otherwise, between 5 and 10 % of the total bill is considered usual and customary.

Hotels’ Camps’ & Lodges’ staff: 2 – 5 dollars per person per day.

Safari driver and Guide: Ever since the early days of safari-ing, driver-guide and naturalist/tour guide in Africa have had their expert bush skills acknowledged in form of tips. We recommend 5 – 10 dollars per person per day, but this is entirely at your own discretion.

Arrival Transfer: 5 dollars per person per day.

COMMUNICATIONS:

Communication is as sophisticated here as it is in Europe or the States, but it is however more expensive. It is possible to make international calls from most of the hotels, but the price is between USD 7- 10 per minute, for a minimum of 3 minutes. It is mostly automatically billed.

The Nairobi hotels, mainly, will also offer email services.

However in the era of smart phones and what's app, as long you can internet - which is now available in most camps and lodges, communication is cheap and easy.

Mobile Phones: The mobile network coverage in Kenya is no longer limited. Right now there is network almost in all the safari circuit areas. Just incase your cell phone provider has roaming contract with some of the few providers in Kenya (Which is mostly the case); most of the places have network coverage including in the parks and all the cities.

SHOPPING:

Numerous shops and stalls selling a variety of souvenirs can be found in the towns and en route during the safaris. You can buy both traditional and modern jewellery, wood carvings, sculptures, soapstone figures, baskets and bags, safari attire, articles made from banana fibre, khangas and kikois

(khangas are the colourful wraps worn by women especially at the coast and in the countryside, while kikois are the wraps worn by men at the coast), precious stones like Tanzanite (violet/blue), semi precious stones such as green Tsavorite, Tiger Eye and Malachite etc

It is important to bargain in most of the shops for a better price.

We also have some small “markets” such as the Maasai Market in Nairobi, where you can not only enjoy the hectic atmosphere but also find all types of arts and cratfs for sale. This market is open air, operating at shopping malls on each day of the week (please ask your guide for a recommendation while in Nairobi).

Most hotels also have gift shops that sell souvenirs, T-shirts etc

In case you happen to purchase items of African craft while on safari and you decide you want the purchased items to be send to your home country, please make sure you clarify and confirm that the entire shipping costs are included in your invoice just to avoid any inconveniences upon delivery. Mostly, the shipping charges are normally done at the destination airport so as to be able to go through customs inspections and formalities. Kindly note that we take our clients to shopping areas that are highly recommendable for shopping, however Classic Safaris will not be held responsible for any damages caused during the shipping period of the said items. At the same time, the company shall not be held responsible for the non-sending of the purchased items to the agreed destination and will not accept any responsibility for shipment or customs charges.

SHOPPING HOURS:

Shopping hours are from 0830hrs to 1230hrs and 1400hrs to 1700hrs. Mondays to Fridays and from 0830hrs to 1300hrs on Saturdays. The bigger supermarkets do not shut over lunchtime, and stay open until 2000hrs during the week and 1800hrs on weekends. There some supermarkets in Nairobi those are now open 24 hours.

WILDLIFE, NATIONAL PARKS:

Please refrain from disturbing or feeding the animals in the parks. It is dangerous to try to touch them- they ARE wild. Please stay in the vehicle during game drives in the park.

It is prohibited to sit on top of the vehicles, even while they are stationary.

REGISTRATION AND HOTEL CHECK OUTS:

On arrival, you will fill in a registration card at the reception in order to obtain the room key. Room occupancy is only guaranteed after 1100hrs, and on check out must be done by 1000hrs or 1800hrs, if you have contracted a day room.

Extras bills will be paid at the reception. When this is cleared and the room key has been handed in, you will receive a luggage ticket which allows your luggage to leave the hotel, as it indicates all bills and outstanding matters have been cleared.


Rwanda

The first thing that springs to most people’s minds when thinking of Rwanda is its turbulent political history. But today’s Rwanda is a far cry from the nation it was in the mid-90s: the country has emerged from the shadows and has much to offer visitors, most notably the tracking of endangered mountain gorillas in the lush Virunga National Park, which extends across the peaks and jungle-covered slopes of the volcanic Virunga Mountains. Other major tourist attractions include expansive Lake Kivu, ancient Nyungwe Forest with its rich population of primate species, and the game-rich savannah lands of Akagera National Park.


Entry Requirements

PASSPORT AND VISAS

A valid passport is mandatory. Visas are required by some nationalities, but they can be issued on the

Spot at most ports of entry. Before you travel be sure to contact the nearest Rwandan embassy or

Consulate to obtain the latest information on visa Requirements or apply online at

www.migration.gov.rw


Banking and Currency

Currency

Rwanda Franc (RWF) = 100 centimes. Notes are in denominations of RWF 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of RWF100, 50, 20, 10 and 5.

The import and export of local currency is limited to RWF5000. The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited, but must be declared upon arrival and exchanged within 8 days.

Banking

Banking hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1400-1700, Sat 0800-1200.

Credit cards are only accepted at a few hotels in Kigali. MasterCard and Visa are the preferred cards.

International Visa cards are accepted at the ATMs at Ecobank head office in Kigali and at Kigali airport. They can also be used at the ATMs at Access Bank head office in Kigali. However, these ATMs are often affected by power cuts. It is best to travel with US dollars, some banks won’t accept pound sterling.

It may be difficult to change traveller's cheques outside Kigali.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Akagera Aviation (+250 788 308 382 / +250 252 580 234) provides helicopter flights all over the country. Rwandair flies internally to the southeastern town of Cyangugu.

There is a lot of work being done to improve the roads, and in some places you will find smooth tarmac, while in others you will be going along pot-holed dirt paths.A 4-wheel drive vehicle is needed for some local roads. There can be landslides on some of the major roads during annual rainfall in spring and autumn.Extra care should be taken at night, as headlight use is erratic. During rainy season some roads can become impassable.

There are no international car hire companies operating in Rwanda, but there are several local companies. You will find these listed in the Eye magazine given away at the airport and in hotels (www.theeye.co.rw)

Taxis can be found in large towns and cities. Look for the official orange stripe. Fares are reasonable, but should be agreed in advance (ask a local if you think you are being overcharged). Tipping is not expected.

Bicycle and scooter taxis are the quickest and cheapest way to get around in the towns, however they are risky.

Minibus taxis provide links to and from all towns and some villages. Although it is not common for foreigners to travel this way, they are quite safe and efficient. However you will have to wait until they are full before departure if you get on at the start of the route. The Virunga Express (www.virungatravel.com) and Onatracom Express provide more direct intercity links.

Rwandans drive on the right. It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless with a hands-free set. Seat belts must be worn in the front. It is advised not to drive after drinking, breathalisers are in use and if found to have more than 0.8 mg of alcohol per 1 litre of blood, you are likely to face imprisonment. Speed limits are 40km/per hour in the city and 60km outside the city. If the car in front is using the left indicator it often means it is not safe to overtake, the right indicator tells you the road ahead is clear.

An International Driving Permit is required. An entry permit is needed if you have travelled from outside the country, insurance document and driving licence.

You can hire a boat to take you from Gisenyi to Kibuye if you ask at one of the lakeside hotels.


Health and Medical Information

HEALTH

A certificate of yellow-fever vaccination is required. Much of Rwanda lies at too high, an elevation for Malaria to be a major concern, but the disease is Present and prophylactic drugs are strongly recommended. It is advisable to drink bottled Mineral water, which can be bought in all towns. Hospitals are located in all major towns. There are medical facilities of Western standards in Kigali; elsewhere facilities are rudimentary. It is generally wise to you are be up-to-date on vaccinations for typhoid, tetanus, polio and diphtheria. Many travellers also have the Havrix vaccine to guard against infection by hepatitis A. Malaria is widespread throughout lowland Rwanda, so malaria precautions are generally essential. That said, it's vital that you always check the latest recommendations with your own doctor or travel clinic before you travel.


Safety Notices

SECURITY

As it is the case in most regions of the world, security is a topic that should be kept in mind. In Kigali city Hub it’s generally safe during the day, as long as narrow alleys or isolated streets are avoided. We advise you not to walk in the streets in the dark. If you wish to travel by night, always call for a taxi. Don’t carry a lot of money with you when you go out; only the amount you think you will spend. While walking in the streets, don’t wear jewellery or valuables that bring attention to you.

Please leave all valuables (jewellery, travel documents, cameras etc.) in the safes or safety deposit

Boxes of the hotel you are staying at. Please don’t leave anything of value lying around your hotel room.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Food is generally safe to eat if well-cooked and hot. If in doubt, veer towards larger restaurants in cities and those aimed at tourists, which will have undergone government safety checks. Avoid buying food from the side of the road and don’t drink tap water. Use bottled water or otherwise boil or sterilise. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Avoid dairy products that are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

The majority of the population in Rwanda live off subsistence farming and so their meals rely heavily on starchy crops such as potato, maize and cassava. This is generally served with kidney beans and cabbage and where meat can be afforded it is most often goat. However, the restaurants of Kigali and other towns will generally serve grilled meat with french fries and sometimes rice with spicy stews.

Hotels generally serve a reasonable choice of European dishes, and there are Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern restaurants. Some restaurants also serve Franco-Belgian cuisine and African dishes. A fairly good selection of beers, spirits and wines is available. Beer is also brewed locally.

You will see brochettes on most menus, these are basically a skewer of your chosen meat or fish served with rice or chips. Other local specialities include: tilapia, a white fish found in Lake Kivu and also farmed locally and appears often on menus; Matoke, cooked plantain, which may be served when you are expecting potatoes (and usually tastes a lot like potatoes!)

Primus is the local beer of choice. Mutzig is very similar but more expensive and often comes in large 700ml bottles. The local banana wine is for the brave, it is called urwangwa and you should be able to pick up a bottle in a supermarket to try in the privacy of your room.

There is no clear principle on tipping in Rwanda, but most staff in the bigger hotels have come to expect it, as have guides and trackers. A general rule is to tip 10% in restaurants if you feel inclined and give $5 - $10 to guides, trackers and porters.


Climate and Weather

Despite its proximity to the equator, due to the high altitude of most of the country, Rwanda has a temperate climate with temperatures seldom climbing above 25C. The long dry season is from June to September and there are two annual rainy seasons, the first from mid-March until the beginning of June and small rains from mid-September to December. The best time for gorilla and monkey tracking is the dry season - if only to spare you getting drenched (you can still see them in the rain, they just get a bit grumpy). The dry season is also good if you want to see game in Akagera National Park because thirst will draw the animals to the watering holes. You will also find at this time the roads are less dangerous and the risk of malaria is lower. The rainy season is the best time to see chimpanzees and is also the time when the place is at its most lush and green.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

CLOTHING

Dress codes are informal. Daytime temperatures are generally warm, so bring lots of light clothing, supplemented by light sweaters for the cool evenings and heavier clothing for the Volcanic and Nyungwe National parks. When tracking gorillas, wear sturdier clothing to protect against stinging nettles, and solid walking shoes. A hat and sunglasses provide protection against the sun, and a waterproof jacket may come in handy in the moist mountains.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets (outlets) in Rwanda are one of the two European standard electrical socket types: The "Type C" Europlug and the "Type E" and "Type F" Schuko. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for both types.

Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Republic of Rwanda (République du Rwanda) usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.

But travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. North American sockets supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts, far lower than in most of the rest of the world. Consequently, North American appliances are generally built for 110-120 volts.


General Guidance

GEOGRAPHY

Rwanda is a landlocked republic in Equatorial Africa, Situated on the Eastern rim of the Albertan Rift, a Western arm of the Great Rift Valley, on the Watershed between Africa’s two largest river systems:

The Nile and the Congo. Much of the country’s 26,338km2 is dramatically mountainous, the highest Peak being Karisimbi (4,507m) in the volcanic Virunga Chain protected by the Volcanoes National Park. The Largest body of water is Lake Kivu, but numerous other lakes are dotted around the country, notably Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi and Mugasera, all of which have erratic shapes following the contours of the Steep Mountains that enclose them.

ENVIROMENT

Rwanda has strict environmental laws. The use of plastic bags (polythene papers) has been banned. Beware not to carry such since they will not be allowed into the country at the border checkpoints. Kigali is a clean and green city. You are expected to throw your litter in rubbish cans which are fitted all over. Walk along the provided foot paths. Do not step on the grass.

WE RECOMMEND YOU CARRY

. Binoculars (INDISPENSABLE).

Many more rolls of film than what you thought enough! Up to 100 Photos per day. (It

· Doesn’t weigh much, and could be slightly more expensive here).

· A torch

· Insect repellent.

· Lip balms and sun creams.

· Coloured biro pens, pencils, pictures, small books, balloons, etc. to give out as presents in case you visit a local village (they are more appropriate than sweets, and are more appreciated).

· Disposable lighters, caps, scarves, T-shirts, etc. as “barter material” in souvenir shops (although in reality, no “barter” without some money changing hands, exists!).

· Waist pouches for carrying money, passports and small valuables are very practical.

LANGUAGE

Rwanda’s official languages are Kinyarwanda, English and French. Kiswahili, spoken throughout East Africa, Is also widely spoken throughout the country.

WHEN TO VISIT

Rwanda can be visited throughout the year. Gorilla Tracking and other forest walks are less demanding during the drier months. The European winter is the Best time for birds, as Palearctic migrants Supplement resident species.

GETTING THERE & AROUND

Rwanda is well served regionally and internationally by several airlines, including Rwandair, Kenya Airways, Brussels Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines. All International flights arrive at Kigali International Airport; 10km from central Kigali. Rwanda has possibly the best roads in East Africa. Most visitors who have booked through a tour Company will be provided with good private vehicles, Usually 4 wheel drive. All of the major centers are connected with local and luxury bus services. Air Charter and helicopter services are available anywhere in the country and are well advertised.

GORILLA TREKKING SAFARIS & PERMITS

Gorilla permits are most easily arranged by a travel Operator or they can be purchased directly through Rwanda Tourism at their information office in central Kigali. Gorilla trekking safaris can be done throughout the year. The hiking itself can be more arduous in the rainy seasons from April – May and in November, but at an altitude of 2000m and more, it can of course rain here at any time of the year. For more detail, see Rwanda’s climate. The most popular times for gorilla tracking are during the drier months, between December and February, and from about June to mid-September.

PERMITS FOR GORILLA TREKKING

Inevitably, securing permits for trekking gorillas over these popular periods can be difficult at short notice, so you should plan well ahead. We will make all the arrangements for buying your permits.

A maximum of 80 gorilla tracking permits are available each day. Permits cost US$ 1,500 per person per visit, which may seem a lot but don't begrudge it; this money provides Rwanda with a compelling economic reason to conserve the park and, amongst other things, pays for a 24-hour guard for each gorilla group. There is some talk of reducing the cost of gorilla permits in the future during the low, rainy season so contact us for further information on this if you’re thinking of taking a gorilla trekking safari in April, May and November.

PHOTOGTRAPY ON A GORILLA TREKKING SAFARI

If you’re a keen photographer, taking your own pictures of mountain gorillas is one of the most magical photo sessions you’ll ever experience. Do bear in mind that the light can be poor in the rainforest and that use of flash is not permitted. You might also need to protect your camera against heavy rain. However don’t take photos of The President and/ or his entourage, Military installations, ministers, official and military buildings, airports, border posts. Permission must be obtained from any person you wish to photo, and some sort of payment for this is generally required.

IT IS CONVENIENT TO TRAVEL LIGHT:

The safari vehicles do not have a lot of luggage capacity and for this reason, we recommend soft, light luggage. In any hotel with a stay of 2 days or more, laundry service is available.

DON’T CARRY:

Your gold Communion medal, diamonds, Grandmother’s pearls, gold watches, $200 sunglasses, etc.

In other words, carry things that will not be sorely missed in case of loss.


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