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Rwanda Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


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Rwanda, formally the Republic of Rwanda, is a sovereign state in central and east Africa and one of the continent’s smallest republics. Rwanda is surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is located a few degrees south of the Equator. Rwanda is located in the African Great Lakes area and is extremely elevated, with mountains to the west and savanna to the east, as well as several lakes across the nation. Each year, the climate ranges from moderate to subtropical, with two wet seasons and two dry seasons.

The population is youthful and largely rural, having one of Africa’s highest population densities. Rwandans are descended from a single cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, which is divided into three subgroups: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people who are descendants of Rwanda’s first occupants. Scholars dispute on the origins and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some say the differences stem from past social classes within a single people, while others believe the Hutu and Tutsi arrived in the country separately and from distinct areas.

The country’s main religion is Christianity; the primary language is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by the majority of Rwandans, with English and French acting as official languages. Rwanda is governed under a presidential system. Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was elected president in 2000. In comparison to neighboring nations, Rwanda has minimal corruption today, however human rights organizations allege persecution of opposition parties, intimidation, and limits on freedom of expression. Since pre-colonial times, the country has been administered by an organized administrative hierarchy; there are five provinces demarcated by borders set in 2006. Rwanda is one of just two nations in the world with a female majority in the national legislature.

Hunter-gatherers colonized the area throughout the stone and iron eras, and were subsequently followed by Bantu peoples. The people was organized first into clans, later into kingdoms. From the mid-eighteenth century, the Kingdom of Rwanda prevailed, with Tutsi monarchs conquering others militarily, consolidating control, and subsequently adopting anti-Hutu policies. Rwanda was colonized by Germany in 1884 as part of German East Africa, and was later attacked by Belgium during World War I. Both European countries controlled via their kings and maintained a pro-Tutsi attitude. In 1959, the Hutu people revolted. They slaughtered many Tutsi before establishing a separate, Hutu-dominated state in 1962. In 1990, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front declared civil war. The 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists slaughtered an estimated 500,000 to 1.3 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu, heightened social tensions. With a military triumph, the RPF brought the genocide to a stop.

Rwanda’s economy suffered greatly during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, although it has since recovered. The economy is mostly dependent on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the most important export revenue crops. Tourism is a rapidly expanding industry that is currently the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner. Rwanda is one of just two nations where people may safely see mountain gorillas, and visitors must pay for gorilla tracking licenses. Rwandan culture is rich in music and dance, notably drumming and the highly choreographed intore dance. Throughout the land, traditional arts and crafts are created.

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Rwanda - Info Card




Rwandan franc (RWF)

Time zone



26,338 km2 (10,169 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language

Kinyarwanda, French, English, Swahili

Rwanda - Introduction


Rwanda’s population was estimated to be 11,262,564 in 2015 by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda. The population was 10,515,973 according to the 2012 census. The population is young: according to the 2012 census, 43.3 percent of the population was under the age of 15, and 53.4 percent were between the ages of 16 and 64. According to the CIA World Factbook, the annual birth rate in 2015 was projected to be 40.2 births per 1,000 people, with a death rate of 14.9. Life expectancy in the country is 59.67 years (61.27 years for females and 58.11 years for males), ranking 26th out of 224 nations and territories. The country’s sex ratio is reasonably equal.

Rwanda’s population density is among the highest in Africa, with 445 people per square kilometer (1,150/sq mi). Historians such as Gérard Prunier think that population density had a role in the 1994 massacre. The population is mostly rural, with a few major cities scattered across the nation; homes are equally distributed throughout the country. The country’s only sparsely inhabited areas are savanna land in the former province of Umutara and Akagera National Park in the east. Kigali is the biggest city, with a population of about one million people. Its fast growing population puts a strain on its infrastructure development. Gisenyi, which is close to Lake Kivu and the Congolese city of Goma, has a population of 126,000 people, according to the 2012 census. Other significant towns with populations under 100,000 people include Ruhengeri, Butare, and Gitarama. The urban population increased from 6% of the total population in 1990 to 16.6% in 2006; however, by 2011, the percentage had fallen somewhat to 14.8 percent.

Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, and the population is made up of only one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda; this is in contrast to most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and do not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms. The Banyarwanda people are divided into three groups: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. According to the CIA World Factbook, the Hutu made up 84 percent of the population in 2009, the Tutsi 15 percent, and the Twa 1 percent. The Twa are a pygmy group descended from Rwanda’s first occupants, although academics disagree on the origins and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi. According to anthropologist Jean Hiernaux, the Tutsi are a distinct race with “long and narrow heads, faces, and noses”; others, such as Villia Jefremovas, think there is no apparent physical difference and that the classifications were not historically strict. The Tutsi were the governing elite in precolonial Rwanda, descended from whom the monarchs and majority of chiefs were from, whereas the Hutu were agriculturalists. The present administration opposes the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa division and has eliminated it from identification cards. The 2002 census was the first since 1933 that did not divide Rwandans into three categories.


The most common religion in Rwanda is Roman Catholicism, although there have been major changes in the country’s religious demography after the genocide, with numerous converts to Evangelical Christian religions and, to a lesser extent, Islam. According to the 2012 census, Roman Catholics made up 43.7 percent of the population, Protestants (excluding Seventh-day Adventists) 36.7 percent, Seventh-day Adventists 11.8%, and Muslims 2.0 percent; 0.2 percent claimed no religious views, and 1.3 percent did not declare a religion. Traditional religion, although being practiced by barely 0.1 percent of the population, continues to have an impact. Many Rwandans associate the Christian God with the indigenous Rwandan God Imana.


Rwanda is the 149th-largest nation in the world, with a land area of 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles), and the fourth-smallest on the African continent after Gambia, Swaziland, and Djibouti. Its size is similar to that of Burundi, Haiti, and Albania. The Rusizi River, at 950 metres (3,117 feet) above sea level, is the lowest point in the nation. Rwanda is situated in Central/Eastern Africa, bordering to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, and to the south by Burundi. It is landlocked and located a few degrees south of the equator. Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is situated near the country’s center.

The watershed between the main Congo and Nile drainage basins runs across Rwanda from north to south, with about 80% of the country’s land flowing into the Nile and 20% into the Congo through the Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika. The longest river in the nation is the Nyabarongo, which originates in the south-west and travels north, east, and southeast until joining the Ruvubu to create the Kagera; the Kagera then runs straight north along Tanzania’s eastern border. The Nyabarongo-Kagera ultimately flows into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a candidate for the Nile’s total source, which is still unknown. Rwanda contains many lakes, the biggest of which being Lake Kivu. With a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft), this lake occupies the Albertine Rift bottom along much of Rwanda’s western border and is one of the world’s twenty deepest lakes. Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru, and Ihema are other major lakes in Akagera National Park, with the last being the largest in a series of lakes on the park’s eastern lowlands.

Rwanda’s center and western regions are dominated by mountains. They are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains, which flank the East African Rift’s Albertine branch, which runs from north to south along Rwanda’s western border. The tallest peaks are located in the northwest Virungavolcano range, which includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest point at 4,507 meters (14,787 ft). The Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion encompasses the western part of the nation. It is located at a height of 1,500 to 2,500 meters (4,921 to 8,202 ft). The country’s center is mostly made up of rolling hills, while the eastern border area is made up of savanna, plains, and swamps.

Because of its high elevation, Rwanda has a moderate tropical highland climate with lower temperatures than usual for equatorial nations. Kigali, in the country’s center, has a normal daily temperature range of 12 to 27 degrees Celsius (54 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit), with minimal fluctuation throughout the year. Temperatures vary throughout the nation; the hilly west and north are typically colder than the low-lying east. The year is divided into two rainy seasons: the first from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: one long and severe one from June to September, when there is frequently no rain at all, and one shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies regionally, with the west and northwest getting more precipitation than the east and southeast. The pattern of the rainy seasons has shifted as a result of global warming. According to a study by the Strategic Foresight Group, climate change has decreased the number of wet days observed in a year while increasing the frequency of heavy rainfall. Farmers’ production has been reduced as a result of these developments. Strategic Foresight also describes Rwanda as a rapidly warming nation, with an increase in average temperature of 0.7 °C to 0.9 °C during the last fifty years.


Kinyarwanda is Rwanda’s official language and the most widely spoken language. It is also spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s east and in southern Uganda. Kinyarwanda is a Bantu tonal language that is closely linked to Kirundi spoken in neighboring Burundi but considerably more distantly related to other Bantu languages like as Swahili.

Rwanda’s other two official languages, in addition to Kinyarwanda, are French and English. While French was the previous administrative language under Belgian colonial authority, the Rwandan government has moved away from the Francophone sphere of influence after the civil war, most notably by converting the main language of instruction to English in 2008. As a consequence, individuals educated in Rwanda before likely to have some understanding of French, while a large number of returning refugees educated in nearby Anglophone nations tend to know English.

Furthermore, as a consequence of its participation in the East African Community, Rwanda has lately made Swahili a compulsory subject in the school curriculum. Swahili is also commonly spoken by merchants and refugees returning from Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Entry Requirements For Rwanda

Visa & Passport

A passport is needed to enter Rwanda, and a proof of yellow fever vaccination is usually required to return to the country of origin. Citizens of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hong Kong, Kenya, the Philippines, Mauritius, Singapore, Uganda, and Tanzania do not need visas.

If coming by plane, residents of many countries may get a 30-day single-entry visa for USD30, which can be extended by the immigration office in Kigali, but the procedure can be time-consuming. In general, Rwandan embassies and consulates may grant one-month tourist visas for approximately the same amount. For additional information, contact your closest embassy or consulate.

It is no longer feasible to acquire a visa at the border if you are traveling overland. However, visa applications may be simply submitted online. You will get an entrance visa approval email within a few days. The visa will be granted at the border if you provide this acceptance letter. The visa cost of USD30 is paid at the border.

Genuine visitors may also wish to explore the East Africa Tourist Visa, introduced in January 2014 and initially granted in March 2014, which permits for multiple visits in a 90-day period between Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda for USD100 and without “restrictions on place of origin.” Rwanda has taken the wise decision to set up an online platform to issue these, which means that many visitors may choose to fly into Kigali, Rwanda’s main airport, rather than Entebbe or Nairobi, since this visa must be granted by the nation you want to visit first (similar principle to Schengen visas in the EU).

How To Travel To Rwanda

Get In - By plane

International flights into Kigali are available from Brussels, Istanbul, and Amsterdam. Since the end of August 2011, RwandAir has been operating flights to Dubai (via Mombasa) and Jo-Burg utilizing its new Boeing 737-800. There are also regular flights from Uganda’s Entebbe airport, Johannesburg, and Addis Abeba. There are also three daily flights from Nairobi and many flights per week to Bujumbura. It should be noted that the Rwandan capital is also readily accessible (3 hours by car) from the Goma airfield in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Get In - By bus

  • Many bus companies in Uganda operate the 8-10 hour trip from Kampala to Kigali. Horizon costs RWF8,000 to travel from Kigali to Kampala in 2015. Jaguar costs RWF6,000-8,000; earlier buses are less expensive. Rwanda’s most dependable bus companies are Kampala Coaches, Jaguar, and Ontracom.
  • Tanzania has one open border with Rwanda, however owing to the remoteness and lack of roads in western Tanzania, this is a much more difficult route to access Rwanda. Buses operate from Mwanza to Benako (both in Tanzania), and from Benako to Kigali. Ngara is another place to consider along this route (Tanzania).

Every day, many buses travel from Dar es Salaam to Kahama through Morogoro and Dodoma (they all depart Ubungo bus station about 06:00-07:00). You must spend the night in Kahama before taking a minibus or shared cab to the border. There are minibuses to Kigali from the Rwandan side of the border.

  • There are two routes to enter Burundi from Rwanda, and border security varies. For the brave, Yahoo Car operates a daily direct service from Kigali to Bujumbura, while Belvedere Lines has run a new “luxury” route since 2007. If there are security issues along the Bujumbura-Huye-Kigali route, it is also feasible to travel via the bordering (but not entering) DRC road. This will most likely need a succession of minibuses through Cibitoke, Bugarama (Rwanda), and Cyangugu (Rwanda). Check the security status with your embassy for each of these options (the Belgian embassy has the best information). There are several new ones, such as the Volcano Express.
  • Much of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is still off-limits to visitors owing to insecurity, but Goma and Bukavu are readily accessible from Rwanda.

How To Travel Around Rwanda

Short distances may be covered on foot or by taxi-velo (bicycle taxi). Taxi-velos are common and very cheap, although they are not permitted in metropolitan areas. The driver of the taxi-velo will bike, while the passenger will sit somewhat dangerously on the back.

Motorcycle taxis (taxi-moto) are also common, particularly in Kigali, with a typical trip costing between USD1-2. If you seem to be a foreigner and are strolling on the major road, cars will most likely approach you and offer you a ride. Most of the drivers, if they speak at all, speak just very rudimentary English or French.

Taxis are less frequent and may be located at taxi stations, by waiting at bus stops for the taxi sign, or by phoning them. They are considerably more costly; even short trips cost RWF2,000, or almost USD4, while longer rides may cost RWF5,000 or more (almost USD10).

Matatu can travel somewhat greater distances, and even the whole nation (or Twegerane, literally let get closer). These white minibuses may be seen all across East Africa, packed with people, children, and anything else you can think of (bags, chickens).

Destinations in Rwanda

Regions in Rwanda

  • Kigali district
  • Northern Rwanda
  • Western Rwanda
  • Eastern Rwanda
  • Southern Rwanda

Cities in Rwanda

  • Kigali
  • Byumba
  • Rubavu, formerly Gisenyi
  • Muhanga, formerly Gitarama
  • Huye, formerly Butare
  • Kibungo
  • Karongi, formerly Kibuye
  • Musanze, formerly Ruhengeri

Other destinations in Rwanda

  • Akagera National Park
  • Volcanoes National Park – home to the mountain gorillas, this park spreads into Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Nyungwe National Park

Accommodation & Hotels in Rwanda

Accommodation is often modest and considerably more costly than in neighboring Uganda and Tanzania. The most basic lodging will cost between USD8 and USD20.

Kigali has a few excellent hotels, the most renowned of which being the “Hotel des Mille Collines,” which was featured in the film Hotel Rwanda. Moviegoers wanting to spend time on the set may be disappointed, since the picture was made in South Africa. Following significant renovations, the hotel is again open for business. Most hotels in Kigali cost $50 or more per night, but there are a few deals to be found if you search around.

In the heart of town, there is a reasonably priced hotel operated by Catholic sisters named St Paul. It’s directly behind the same-named church, across from the roundabout. contains two twin beds (without self-contained bathroom).

Things To See in Rwanda

  • National Museum of Butare,  0252 553131. 09:00-17:00. In Huye – National Museum of Rwanda RWF3,000 for foreigners; RWF2,000 for foreign residents. Extra charge for photography.
  • The Genocide Memorial in Kigali – excellent insight into one of history’s biggest tragedies Walking around is free, however audio tours cost USD10. Small groups may employ tour guides.(
  • The Nyamata Genocide Memorial is an important addition to Kigali’s Gisozi Memorial Centre. The monument is at a church in the hamlet of Nyamata, 40 minutes south of Kigali on a freshly resurfaced road. Over 10,000 people were murdered during the 1994 genocide. Visitors take a brief tour and witness the survivors’ clothes heaped on benches, the ceiling pockmarked with bullet holes, and the open crypts behind the church that contain the remains of nearly 40,000 individuals from the region. A moving look at one of the locations where the genocide was carried out. NOTE: If you want to photograph the site, you must first get a permission in Kigali before traveling to Nyamata. It is open seven days a week and admission is free. Donations are welcomed since the government provides minimal assistance.
  • Lake Kivu in Western Rwanda – a huge lake bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it’s a great location to unwind for a week or two.
  • Parc National des Volcans, is the home of mountain gorillas and the location for author Dian Fossey’s study Gorillas in the Mist. If you can afford it, it’s a fantastic experience that can even be done as a day trip from Kigali. For further information, contact the Rwandan Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), Boulevard de la Révolution n° 1, Kigali, +(250) 576514 or 573396, [email protected]. Each individual pays USD750 (1 Jun 2012). Aside from that, you’ll need to use an approved cab, which would cost you an additional USD50. Rates are continuously increasing, and you should really evaluate whether you want them to continue charging these exorbitant prices as long as there are people willing to pay them.

Food & Drinks in Rwanda

Food in Rwanda

Local “Brochettes” (kebabs) are delectable and can be found at most taverns and restaurants. Small taverns will mainly offer goat brochettes, and goat liver brochettes are generally considered to be of better quality by locals. Zingalo is goat intestine, which is occasionally served as a brochette. Some locals like this, and it may be served without your asking in particularly “local” establishments, so observe if other diners seem to be enjoying the spiral-shaped delicacy and express you do not want it when you order (“OYA zingalo!”). Some restaurants also offer beef and seafood brochettes, as well as chicken. Brochettes are often served with fries or fried or grilled ibitoke.

If Rwanda has a national dish, it is ibitoke (sing. igitoke). Ibitoke are starchy, potato-like bananas that lack the sweetness of plantains. Plantains are accessible in Rwanda, although they are not considered a uniquely Rwandan cuisine. Igitoke/banana is often served boiled in sauce, grilled, or fried. You may also call them matoke, which is generally simpler for foreigners to say. Rwandan sweet bananas are tasty, but much smaller than matoke bananas. If you want this kind of banana, ask for a tiny banana or a sweet banana, and you should be able to obtain it.

At noon, a local buffet known as “Melange” is served in metropolitan areas. This is a buffet of mainly carbs such potatoes, bananas, rice, and cassava, with some vegetables, beans, and a little quantity of meat or fish with sauce. It is important to note that Rwandan buffets are not all-you-can-eat! You may only load your plate once, but with practice, you will be able to stack it high like the natives. Prices vary from little more than USD1 to USD5 or even USD10, depending on the quality of the establishment and the variety of cuisine offered. Most upper-tier buffets (USD3 and above) also include a salad bar. It’s worth noting that many of the less expensive Melange spots are unlabeled.

Kigali offers a considerably wider selection of eateries than the rest of the nation. There are many Indian and Chinese restaurants, as well as Italian, Greek, French, and multi-cuisine restaurants, all of which charge about USD10 for supper.

Drinks in Rwanda

Most stores sell milk, water, juices, and soft beverages. Most pubs have a restricted selection of approximately 5 different sodas and 4 distinct beers, Turbo King, Primus, Mützig, and Amstel. Primus and Mützig come in small and large quantities, while Amstel is only available in 330mL bottles. It’s worth noting that Rwandans are renowned for their love of big beers, and when you order Amstel, it’s typical for a waiter to bring out two bottles at once. Bralirwa, in Rwanda’s west, produces the majority of the country’s beer and soft beverages. Inyange manufactures juices and soft drinks.

There are also native banana beer preparations known as Urwagwa, which are typically made at home and sold solely in plastic containers but are now now accessible in bottles at certain stores and pubs.

Money & Shopping in Rwanda

The Rwandan franc (French: franc rwandais, Kinyarwanda: Ifaranga ry’u Rwanda) is the country’s currency, with the ISO 4217 currency code RWF (often represented as FRw, and sometimes RF or R).

As of December 2015, one US dollar equaled RWF 750. One British pound equals RWF 1120. One Euro equals RWF 800.

The smallest note in terms of value is a RWF500 note, which is also the lowest in terms of physical size. There are also 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 note denominations, with the bigger notes being somewhat larger in physical size. There are no notes in circulation worth more than RWF5,000, which is inconvenient given that a RWF5,000 note is approximately equal to USD8. Because few establishments in Rwanda take credit cards, visitors should plan on carrying a significant amount of cash with them if they are traveling outside of Kigali, particularly if they are staying for more than a few days.

Coins of RWF100 are frequently used. Smaller coins (50, 20, 10, 5, and RWF1), on the other hand, are usually not accepted by street vendors, small eateries, and motels. Smaller coins may only be obtained from a bank or a big shop, such as a supermarket. Most Rwandan businesses, including currency exchanges and petrol stations, round transactions to the closest RWF100.

Bring USD50 notes or higher (2006 or newer) to exchange for Rwandan Francs for significantly better exchange rates.

ATMs may be found across Rwanda. Depending on your bank, this may be a more cheaper method to get francs since ATMs provide a better exchange rate than money changers. Bank of Kigali, Equity Bank, Ecobank, and Kenya Commercial Bank accept Master card, Visa card, Union pay, Amex cards, Diners Club, and JCB cards. GT Bank is an acronym for Global Trust Bank.

Traditions & Customs in Rwanda

Rwanda is a highly conservative culture; most individuals, particularly women, dress modestly. Wearing shorts, tight skirts, and tiny tops will earn you twice as many stares as usual.

Even while many guys stroll hand in hand with male pals, it is uncommon for a pair to make public shows of love. Aside from restaurants, Rwandans hardly never eat or drink in public. Rwandan women are seldom seen smoking in public or drinking alone in clubs.

Although smoking is not prohibited in most public areas such as pubs and restaurants, it is usually discouraged. People may complain about being bothered by your smoking from time to time.

Rwandans are a highly quiet, reticent people, and public conflicts (such as screaming bouts) or apparent shows of emotion (such as weeping) are also frowned upon. If you believe you are being overcharged by a merchant, calmly continuing with the negotiation (or your complaint!) is far more likely to generate results than a furious outburst!

Making eye contact with an elder is also considered rude.

Please keep in mind that Rwanda is still rebuilding from a civil war and genocide that killed over 800,000 people, perhaps a million. Many Rwandese people were killed, including family and acquaintances. When working with Rwandese, keep this unfortunate truth in mind. Most people now want to be referred to be Rwandese rather than Hutu or Tutsi, attempting to forget the ethnic divides. It is considered rude to inquire about someone’s ethnic background.

Unlike in many neighboring countries such as Uganda and Kenya, where people openly debate the government and political problems, individuals in Rwanda will feel uncomfortable if questioned about their opinions or simply sitting at a table where national politics is discussed.

Culture Of Rwanda

Rwandan rituals, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling all include music and dance. The most renowned traditional dance is a highly choreographed routine consisting of three components: the umushagiriro, or cow dance, performed by women; the intore, or hero’s dance, performed by men; and drumming, also historically done by males, on ingoma drums. The National Ballet is the most well-known dancing company. President Habyarimana founded it in 1974, and it now performs both domestically and internationally. Music has traditionally been passed down orally, with genres differing across social groups. Drums are very important; royal drummers had prominent positions in the King’s court (Mwami). Drummers perform in ensembles of various sizes, often ranging from seven to nine players. The country’s popular music industry is expanding, inspired by African Great Lakes, Congolese, and American music. Hip hop, which combines rap, ragga, R&B, and dance-pop, is the most popular genre.

Traditional arts and crafts are created across the nation, but the majority of them began as utilitarian rather than decorative products. Woven baskets and bowls are particularly popular. Imigongo, a one-of-a-kind cow dung art, is made in the southeast of Rwanda, where it has been practiced since the area was part of the autonomous Gisakakingdom. The excrement is combined with different colored natural soils and painted into patterned ridges to create geometric patterns. Pottery and wood carving are two more skills. Traditional house designs make use of locally accessible resources; the most prevalent are circular or rectangular mud homes with grass-thatched roofs (known as nyakatsi). The government has begun a campaign to replace them with more contemporary materials like corrugated iron.

Rwanda may not have a lengthy history of written literature, but it does have a rich oral culture that includes anything from poetry to folk tales. Many of the country’s moral ideals and historical facts have been handed down through generations. Alexis Kagame (1912–1981) was Rwanda’s most renowned literary personality, conducting and publishing studies into oral traditions as well as composing his own poems. The Rwandan Genocide spawned a literature of witness testimonies, essays, and fiction written by a new generation of authors such as Benjamin Sehene. Several films have been made on the Rwandan Genocide, including the Golden Globe-nominated Hotel Rwanda, Shake Hands with the Devil, Sometimes in April, and Shooting Dogs, the latter two of which were shot in Rwanda and included survivors as cast members.

Throughout the year, fourteen scheduled national holidays are celebrated, with additional added on occasion by the government. The week after Genocide Memorial Day on April 7 has been recognized as an official week of sorrow. On July 4, the RPF’s triumph against Hutu extremists is commemorated as Liberation Day. Every month on the last Saturday, there is umuganda, a national morning of obligatory community work from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., during which all able-bodied individuals between the ages of 18 and 65 are obliged to do communal chores like as cleaning streets or constructing houses for needy people. During umuganda, most regular services are closed, and public transit is restricted.


Rwandan cuisine is centered on local basic foods grown for subsistence, such as bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke), lentils, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). Many Rwandans consume meat just a few times each month. Tilapia is popular among people who live near lakes and have access to fish. The potato, which is believed to have been brought to Rwanda by German and Belgian colonialists, is very popular. Ubugari (or umutsima) is a porridge-like substance prepared from cassava or maize and water that is consumed across the African Great Lakes. Isombe is a dish composed of mashed cassava leaves that is eaten with dried fish. Lunch is often a buffet known as mélange, which includes the aforementioned basics as well as meat on occasion. Brochettes are the most common evening meal, often prepared from goat but sometimes tripe, beef, or fish.

Many taverns in rural regions have a brochette vendor who is in charge of caring for and killing the goats, skewering and grilling the meat, and selling it with grilled bananas. Milk, especially in the fermented yoghurt form known as ikivuguto, is a popular beverage across the nation. Other beverages include urwagwa, a traditional brew produced from sorghum or bananas that is used in traditional rites and celebrations. Bralirwa, Rwanda’s largest beverage producer, was founded in the 1950s and is currently listed on the Rwandan Stock Exchange. Bralirwa produces Coca-Cola, Fanta, and Sprite soft drinks under license from The Coca-Cola Company, as well as Primus, Mützig, Amstel, and Turbo King beers. Brasseries des Mille Collines (BMC) started in 2009, producing Skol beer as well as a local variant known as Skol Gatanu; BMC is currently owned by Belgian firm Unibra. East African Breweries operate in the nation as well, importing Guinness, Tusker, and Bell beers, as well as whiskey and spirits.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Rwanda

Stay Safe in Rwanda

Tourists are often greeted cordially in Rwanda, and the nation is widely regarded as safe for tourists. Certain areas near the Congolese and Burundian borders may be exceptions. Rwandan soldiers are said to be engaged in the civil conflict that still rages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s northeast, owing to the presence of Interhamwe refugees who fled following the 1994 genocide. Gisenyi and Kibuye are deemed safe, although the border situation may change at any time: for more information, see Foreign Office information and local sources.

Because of the massive and constant Rwandan army presence near the DRC border, gorilla trekking is usually regarded as secure.

If you’re traveling in the countryside in a matutu (taxi), don’t be shocked if the matutu passes through numerous police/military checkpoints. This is done to verify IDs, vehicle registration, and insurance, therefore carry a photocopy of your passport with you everywhere you go in Rwanda.

Stay Healthy in Rwanda

The following is an extract from the United States State Department’s Consular Information Sheet on Rwanda, which was revised on December 1, 2006:

Medical and dental services are few, and certain medications are either out of stock or unavailable. Travelers should carry their own prescription and preventative medical supplies. Americans in Kigali may seek treatment at King Faycal Hospital, a private hospital with limited services. In Kigali, there is also a missionary dentistry clinic operated by an American dentist. Kibagora, in southern Rwanda, has an American-run missionary hospital with some surgical capabilities. Another hospital with American doctors is in Ruhengeri, in the gorilla trekking region, and a Chinese hospital is at Kibungo, in southern Rwanda. There is also an excellent hospital near Lac Muhazi that people from Kigali visit.

The US Embassy in Rwanda maintains an up-to-date list of healthcare providers and facilities. This list is included in the welcome packages for American citizens provided by the Consular Section. Meningitis epidemics occur on a regular basis in Rwanda. Yellow fever may cause severe medical issues, but the necessary vaccination is very successful in avoiding the illness. Adults are at a high risk of HIV/AIDS, with 9 percent, or one in every eleven, infected. Sex should be done in a safe manner. Use of intravenous drugs should be avoided.



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