Don't Travel To Rwanda Without Knowing These Things

The land of a thousand hills boasts of stunning scenery, warm people and a bunch of rules to to take note of.


6/26/20244 min read

brown concrete house
brown concrete house

Official Language: Kinyarwanda, English, French(rare)

Currency: RwF Rwandan Franc

Best Time To Visit: June to September and December to February

Heading to Rwanda or the Land of a Thousand Hills? Rwanda has that trip uniquely suited to any traveller-from the verdant landscapes and lively culture, to wildlife experiences simply unforgettable.

This guide gives you a first hand information of what to know before booking a flight to Rwanda.

If You’re Traveling With A Drone, You’ll Need To Show Authorization.

Most if not, all East African countries have strict drone policies and as such, you cannot fly into the country with your drone. I remember, I had to explain to the airport security at Jomo Kenyatta Airport that I wasn’t carrying a drone. The scan classified my pocket camera as a drone and I had to prove it was not.

For Rwanda, you’ll need a permit to fly a drone. Foreigners aren’t allowed to register drones. However, you can make a citizen register your drone on your behalf.

Rwanda Is Currently Visa Free For All African Countries

Somewhere in November 2023, President Kagame abolished visa requirements for all African countries. Anyone from Africa can visit Rwanda visa free and all they have to show is a valid passport and a yellow vaccination card. Depending on where you’re flying from, RwandAir flies directly to Kigali from most African cities. I visited Rwanda in December 2023, round trip for about $500, which was quite cheap for that season.

Kigali Is Currently The Cleanest City In Africa

Talk of squeaky clean, I was shook to see a country in Africa with such cleanness! I live in a different Africa for sure, but there’s got to be something that makes Rwanda different from other parts of Africa. Rwanda for sure has a huge budget for keeping their streets clean. Moving around Kigali, you’ll see lush greenery, clean pavements, clear drains and so on. I can say for a fact, I took my best walk in Kigali.

KinyaRwanda is Rwanda’s Official Language

You know how aside from official languages, most African countries have either French or English as a second language. For Rwanda, their native Kinyarwanda is widely spoken and is held in high esteem. When you visit Genocide Memorial in Kigali, on the museum walls, Kinyarwanda is boldened whilst French and English are in lower case respectively. That said, make sure to learn a few Kinyarwanda words so you can communicate with locals.

Rwandese Are Law Abiding. Respect Their Rules Or Get Ousted.

Rwandese and law abiding are two peas in a pod. Fun fact, I was with one of the drivers during my work in Kigali and I saw a photo of President Kagame used as a wallpaper. In another instance, a volunteer assisting at the Move Afrika event had a photo of the President as their profile photo. This was intriguing and shows how Rwanda reveres its President. Aside from this, there’s a driving limit of 40 km/hr in the city and in provinces 60 km/hr. Using cell phones while driving is not allowed, unless phones are equipped with a hands free kit.

Rwanda Has Zero Tolerance For Noise Pollution

When it comes to noise making, I wasn’t surprised at all that a country this clean was indeed clean in all aspects. In Rwanda, there’s a curfew on all non-essential services, which ensures that businesses close by 1 am on weekdays and 2 am on weekends. If you have plans of nightlife hopping, Kigali might not be the best option.

Single Plastic Use Is Banned In Rwanda

Rwanda banned single plastic use as far as in 2008. In fact, single plastics are slowing phasing out in most East African countries and Rwanda is one of those. I vividly remember I had to put a bottle of water I bought from a grocery store into a paper bag.

Motorbikes Are Cheaper And Safe

When it comes to moving around in Rwanda, Bodas or motorbikes come in handy and they’re in every corner of the city. What’s more, the riders were helmets and reflective jackets with a unique number at the back; I guess this is for identification. In this part of Africa, motorbikes respect traffic rules! You can walk casually across a zebra crossing without fear of getting knocked down by a speedster. If motor bikes aren’t your thing, there are other options like buses, Moove (hail riding app) and taxis.

A group of Boda Riders parked along the street in Kigali

Umuganda And Car Free Day

When it comes to environmental consciousness, Rwanda tops all. The 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month in Kigali is Car-Free Day. On this day, motorists ditch their vehicles and cycle or use the sidewalks. The event starts at 7am and ends at about 11am at designated car free zones in the city.

Umuganda, the nation's community service day, takes place every last Saturday of the month and everyone is required to participate.

Car Free Day in Kigali
Car Free Day in Kigali

Cleaners cleaning the road and sidewalks in Kigali

The Security Detail Is Top Notch

At this point, I think it’s an East African thing to have security checkpoints and scans in public spaces. While in Kigali, I couldn’t count the number of times I had to be scanned before accessing a restaurant, shopping mall or the hotel. There’s almost a security checkpoint at every stop and this is not to scare people but to ensure everyone is safe.

While you’re thinking of visiting Rwanda or stuck between whether it’s a destination worth visiting, I hope this information answers your questions. If you decide to visit Rwanda, make sure to go over this must-knows.