Ultimate Guide Around Rwanda

Ultimate Guide Around Rwanda

I was lucky enough to have experience living in Kigali, Rwanda for about a month. During this time, I learned a great deal about the country. I will provide some basic tips to maneuver around the country. While most travelers will go from point A to point B, the itinerary shared at the bottom of this guide will consist of trips from Kigali that I experienced. I also provided an alternate itinerary that I would follow should I ever find myself in Rwanda again for a week. Let’s get started.


Must Know Before You Go

When to Visit: Dry season (June to September, December to February) is the best time to visit Rwanda. 

Visas: Visas upon arrival are required for all US citizens and most foreign travelers.

  • For those traveling on holiday, you will need to request a V1- Holiday purpose visa. As of Oct 2023, it is $50 USD for a single visit and $70 USD for multiple entries. 
  • There is also an East Africa Tourist Visa for those who wish to extend their travels across East African territories. It is $100 USD and allows multiple entries within a 90 day period to all East Africa countries including Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.
  • Visa can be issued upon arrival at the border, at immigration and emigration offices, or online here. For more information about Rwanda Visas, you can visit the Rwanda Migration website here.

Language: Kinyarwanda. Locals may also speak Swahili, English, and/or French. Before the 1994 genocide, most people were taught French in school but after, English was the language taught (this was what I was told by locals.). 

Currency: Rwandan Francs (RwF). Exchange Rate as of October 2023. 

  • $1USD=$1,220.70 RwF
  • $1CAN=$892.90 RwF
  • $1AUS=$ 767.63 RwF
  • €1=$1,282.75 RwF
  • £1=$1,480.09 RwF

Credit Card vs. Cash: Cash is widely used so make sure that you take out enough cash for your trip. USD is accepted by larger and touristy businesses but not by local services. If you are booking a tour, USD may be recommended and you could possibly receive a discount. USD is worth more to them than RwF.  

ATMs: ATMs and Currency Exchange buildings are located throughout Kigali. I did not find them outside of Kigali.

Tipping: 10% is standard for restaurant establishments. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Memorial sites of the Genocide: Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero, Nyungwe National Park

National Parks: Volcanoes, Virunga, Nyungwe, Akagera


Getting To Rwanda

Rwanda is not exactly the easiest country to fly into. It is a landlocked country in eastern Africa near Uganda, Democratic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Burundi. The primary airport in Rwanda is in the capital city of Kigali (KGL). The only international airline that flies here are KLM, Qatar, Turkish Airlines, and Brussels Airlines.

I flew on KLM through Amsterdam (AMS). This flight is a little bizarre since you fly to KGL from AMS but the plane continues on to Entebbe, Uganda (EBB). On the return flight on KLM, you have an “hour” layover in EBB to pick up a new crew and load passengers. You cannot get off the aircraft during this time. Ticket prices vary depending on when they are purchased. From Los Angeles, it was about $1000.



Rwanda is known as the land of 1000 hills. With that said Rwanda is not a walking city. That includes the capital of Kigali. However, some downtown areas and the Kigali Car Free Zone are walkable. To get around, there are rideshare companies similar to Uber and Lyft. The two main companies are Yego cab and Move by Volkswagon. Yego is cheaper but Move by Volkswagon offers vehicles that are more comfortable. Unlike Uber and Lyft in most developed countries, Yego and Move drivers typically contact their passengers upon accepting a ride to verify the location. I usually make sure to ask someone who speaks the local language if they can speak to the driver before I book on the app. Locals can better explain where you are located. 



Yego has two vehicle options, motorbike or automobile. Driving in Kigali is chaotic where lights and lanes are suggestions. Due to this, I do not recommend ever taking the motorbikes. I’ve witnessed quite a few accidents including one that was fatal. Yego drivers generally prefer cash but you can connect your credit card to the app. When you book on the app, you will receive a code that must be entered by the driver’s phone. Make sure that you watch the driver input the code on their phone. There have been times when drivers would want you to pay off the books. You can negotiate before the vehicle moves. Gas is very expensive in Kigali so sometimes the drivers will offer to wait for you and you can negotiate a price for the return ride. A disadvantage of Yego is that a local phone number is necessary. App users who do not have a Rwandan phone number may get their rides canceled as international calls are not accessible to the drivers. I will explain how to retrieve a sim card in a bit. 



Move gives users the option to include a credit card on the app but make sure that the conditions are accepted or cash may be required until you properly enrolled your credit card. Most Move drivers will speak English and the vehicles are more modern in comparison to Yego. 

When taking Yego and Move, be vigilant and keep an eye on the app. I had a colleague whose ride was canceled halfway and the driver denied ever doing that. When the colleague asked to pull over, the driver continued to drive until they threatened to contact authorities. While most people are good, there are still bad apples. Be Vigilant. 


Hotel Van:

Most chain hotels will offer transportation to nearby sites for a fee. Prices are generally higher than that of Yego or Move but you are paying for convenience and their vehicles are more spacious. Some hotels will require advance reservations while others can be booked on the spot. 

Around Rwanda:

Private Drivers

We got lucky and found a private driver who was able to take us outside of Kigali for affordable prices. When you are riding in a Yego or Move, sometimes the driver will have tour packages or you can ask if they can drive you personally if you contact them. Be mindful that private drivers are not tour guides so you are just paying for the ride and have to plan where you want to go. 


I highly recommend hiring Emile from Lion Safaris. He is full of energy, very knowledgeable, and he’s hilarious. He is accommodating and made sure that our needs were met. When you book a tour and use a credit card, you may be charged 5% per card in addition to the tour price for bank charges and government taxes. I booked my tour while I was in Kigali but if I planned in advance, I would bring USD to pay for the tour. 

Road Restrictions:

On the 3rd Saturday of every month, the entire country cleans between the hours of 7am to 11am. Yes, that is right. People go outside to clean their neighborhoods. During this time, no vehicles can be on the road except for tourism and shipments. We hired a private driver and we were stopped six times in a span of 2 hours by armed guards. Our poor driver had to keep explaining to the guards that he is a tour driver taking us on an excursion. Then he had to show documentation. It was nice to see the road completely empty but we wished we knew how serious this was. 

Green Friendly

Rwanda takes cleaning their country seriously. In Kigali, there is a trash bin on every corner. In the early mornings, you can see older ladies who are hired by the state sweeping the sidewalks. It is important that you respect their cleanliness and clean up after yourself. Do not litter. You can be fined.

Rwanda does not allow plastic into the country. When packing, bring your own reusable shopping bags in order to carry leftovers or for grocery shopping. Most packaging is in paper bags that can easily tear. Beverages are sold in plastic bottles but hotels usually provide glass water bottles. You may need to bring a reusable water bottle to avoid carrying glass water bottles. 

SIM Card

I recommend getting a local number if you intend on using rideshare or ordering takeout. As mentioned earlier, local drivers will reach out to you to confirm your ride. They will not be able to reach out to you if you have a foreign number.

I purchased my sim card at the MTN store at a nearby shopping center. I recommend getting there early as it gets quite busy. By the time I left the shop, the line wrapped around the shopping center. 

A passport is required to get a local number. The process took a while as they took several photos of me and my passport. The teller spoke limited English and I communicated by pointing at my desired package. 

There are several bundle packages to choose from. Their packages are strange so you have to make it clear that you will need talk and data or they will automatically give you data and text. Below are the current options as of Jan 2024:

Data Bundle

Voice Bundle


I was quite disappointed in the food in Rwanda. At times, the food was too salty, and other times they were tasteless. The common cuisine can include plantains, rice, and potatoes. Their stews are delicious and pair great with the common side dishes. Fruits are sweet and juicy. There are international eateries located throughout Rwanda but do not expect authenticity as some ingredients are not easily accessible. 


There are so many hotels to choose from. The most famous one is the Hotel des Mille Collines. This hotel is in the movie Hotel Rwanda which was based on a true story surrounding the refuge of many people during the Rwandan genocide. Hotel stays here can range from 150 to 200 a night. That is standard pricing for hotels in the area. Stays at guesthouses and apartments can be a fraction of the price ranging from $50 to $100 a night. 



Week Date Location To Do To Eat
1 Aug 11-17, 2023 Kigali

1. Rwanda Genocide Memorial

KG 14 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda

  • The history of the genocide in Rwanda
  • $20 for self-audio guide. Can hire a guide for extra who has lived through the genocide. 

2. Umusambi Village 

Kabuga, Rwanda

  • Crane sanctuary
  • Admission price: 15,000 ($17)

1. Lunch: Korean Fried Chicken →KN 61 St, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Delicious. Highly recommend their crispy Korean fried chicken ($13)

2. Lunch: Umusambi Village Cafe →2685+JVV, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Ordered: Weekend BBQ for (8500).

3. Dinner: Heavens Restaurant

→7 KN 29 St, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Not authentic. Tailored to tourist. Owned by Americans.
  • Ordered: Thai Beef and Rice Noodle Salad (15500), Mount Kigali drink (16500)

4. Dinner: 1000 Hills Distillery/The Rock

→KK 30 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Great lounge. Beautiful view of the city. Food is decent. Avoid hot stone dishes if you do not want to cook your own dish. 
  • Ordered: lemon drop martini (9000), Beef Samosas (3000), Bf Taco (3000), Ck Taco (3000)
2 Aug. 18-24, 2023



1. Akagera National Park

  • Located in the Savannas. Hottest region in Rwanda
  • Hired Emile at Lions Safari ($230/pp)

2. Mount Kigali –

Fazenda Sengha

  • Ziplining (10,000 RwF for 8 rounds)
  • Horseback Riding (30,000 RwF)

3. Kimironko Market

KG 194 St, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Busy local market. Not for the faint of heart. 

1. Lunch: Mount Kigali Cafe

  • Wonderful outdoor cafe to eat at Fazenda Sengha.
  • Ordered: margarita pizza (8000), 3 samosas (5000), vodka lemonade (7000)

2. Dinner: Umut Cafe

Chic Building Ground Floor, KN 2 St, Rwanda

  • Mediterranean-type food. Touristy. Located around lots of shops and markets.
  • Ordered: Kebab Wrap (6500)
3 Aug. 25-31, 2023



1. Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho 

9H23+582, Kibeho, Rwanda

  • Only Apparition Site in Africa

2. King’s Palace

Nyanza Rd, Rwanda

  • Where the King once lived in Rwanda. 
  • Admission Fee: 9,000 includes a guide.

3. Kigali Heights

KG 7 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Mall but most shops are closed.

1. Lunch in Kibeho: Stafford Family Business Cafe

Nyanza, Southern 250

  • Ordered: beef cheeseburger (6500), tropical smoothie (5000)

2. Dinner in Kigali: Repub Lounge

→16 KG 674 St, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Ordered: Beef Karanga (15000)
4 Sept 1-7, 2023

Lake Kivu


1. Lake Kivu

  • Relaxing area that borders the DR Congo.
  • Boat Ride ($150/hr)
  • Hot springs (5000)

2. Volcanoes National Park

Ruhengeri, Rwanda

  • Known for their gorilla and golden monkey trekking. Permit required for entry.
  • Musanze Caves ($50)

Caplaki Craft Village

→KN 5 Rd, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Local craft market on the top floor of Masterpiece Mall.
  • Not as aggressive as other markets in Kigali. 

4. Azizi Life

KG 5 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Drop in art classes.
  • Cost: 7,000 – 15,000 RWF ($7 to $15)


1. Lunch at Lake Kivu: Lake View Bar

Ave de la Cooperation, Gisenyi, Rwanda

  • Highly recommend the chicken tikka masala.
  • Ordered: gisenyi margarita (23000), chicken tikka marsala (16000)

2. Lunch in Musanze: Migano Hotel & Cafe

NR 4 RD, 43, Rwanda

  • Cute Cafe. Mediocre food.
  • Ordered: Spicy Chicken (14,000)

3. Dinner in Kigali: Inka Steakhouse

2a, KG 605 St, Kigali, Rwanda

  • High-end Steakhouse.

Dinner in Kigali: Rooftop Rendezvous Bar & Grill

KN 67 St, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Rooftop bar located in the Ubumwe Grande Hotel. Take the elevator up to the top floor. Favorite place to eat in Kigali. Been to it multiple times. 
  • Ordered: Chicken Majestic (14000), Savanha Pinotage Shiraz Glass (10,000), Bolognaise (12000), margarita (13000)

Dinner in Kigali: Pool Bar Restaurant

2 KN 6 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda

  • Located poolside in the famous Mille Collines Hotel (Movie: Hotel Rwanda). Great vibes. 
  • Ordered: Wings