'Land of a Thousand Hills' ( Pays de Mille Collines) as it is popularly known, Rwanda is a small, verdant country in central Africa, the beautiful rolling landscape dotted with tea plantations, rugged mountains and towering volcanoes, with the shimmering Lake Kivu in the west.
Today Rwanda focuses mainly on ecotourism, being a nature lover's paradise and home to the world's largest population of mountain gorillas within the Volcanoes National Park. Gorilla tracking is the number one tourist attraction in the country, the critical nature of the plight of these endangered animals having been brought to international attention by the film Gorillas in the Mist, shot on location in the Virungas. Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to a large number of smaller primates, as well as more than 275 bird species, while Akagera National Park is big game country where herds of elephants and buffalo, lions, hippos and plains animals inhabit the archetypal African savannah landscape set among a web of swamps and lakes. The waters of Lake Kivu are enclosed by green terraced hills that give way to beaches, inlets and the resort towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu.
Rwanda's past does not paint as an attractive picture, however, the legacy of almost 60 years of sporadic fighting having taken its toll on most of the population. The horrific genocide of about 800,000 Rwandans in the space of just over three months shocked the international media in 1994, sparked by a long-standing ethnic tension between the minority Tutsis and the Hutus. Since then, Rwanda has had to work hard to raise awareness of itself as an unspoilt, scenically stunning destination that is rich in culture and wildlife, boasting fine food and one of the friendliest welcomes in Africa, and is showing rapid signs of development and worldwide interest of a positive nature.
The rapidly growing city of Kigali, situated at Rwanda's geographical heart, is not only the capital but also the country's most important business centre and the main point of entry.
The official currency is the Rwanda franc (RWF), which is
divided into 100 centimes. The US dollar is the hard currency of
preference; travellers cheques are difficult to exchange, even in
the capital. Credit cards are only accepted at the major hotels in
|RWF 1 =||US$ 0.16||Â£ 0.11||C$ 0.17||A$ 0.16||R 1.37||EUR 0.13||NZ$ 0.20|
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.
There is a year-round risk of malaria throughout Rwanda and travellers are advised to take a course of prophylactics. A yellow fever certificate is required by all visitors and inoculation is also recommended. Hepatitis A and Meningococcus vaccinations are also recommended, as well as a polio booster for those who have not had one as an adult. Cholera outbreaks are not uncommon. Bottled drinking water is available in all towns. Medical facilities are limited and medical supplies may be unavailable, although hospitals are located in all major towns. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.
Passport and/or passport replacing documents must be valid on arrival. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Rwanda Tourism and Conservation Department, Kigali: +250 252 573 396 or www.rwandatourism.com
Foreign Embassies in Rwanda
Tourism in Rwanda isn't focused on its cities, but more and more travellers are taking the time to visit Kigali, Rwanda's bustling capital. Though Kigali is small and not especially scenic, it is the administrative and financial heart of Rwanda, and home to several interesting attractions like the sobering Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which documents the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and the Hotel Milles Collines (made famous in the film Hotel Rwanda).
There are a reasonable number of hotels and a small variety of restaurants in Kigali, and a busy market offering crafts and other souvenirs. There isn't much in the way of nightlife in Kigali; however there are a few bars and nightclubs.
Kigali's location makes it aconvenient stop on multinational treks, with good road links to cities in Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. Kigali also makes a good base for arranging excursions to Parc National des Volcans, home of Dian Fossey's research station and grave.
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