Syringe and Vaccine by NIAID via Flickr Creative Commons

Most travelers are required to obtain a visa prior to entering Rwanda, but some are permitted access visa free. Citizens from the United States, Britain and Germany are allowed to stay in the country for a period of up to 90 days without a visa. Travelers from other regions should be aware that it is no longer possible to obtain a visa at any of the country’s overland borders. All travelers are required to be in possession of a passport valid for no less than six months after the date of entry and will probably need to acquire a yellow fever certificates as the country is a high-risk yellow fever zone.

Health and Safety

The healthcare system in Rwanda is quite underdeveloped as much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war. Hospitals are limited as are medical supplies and medication. It is therefore imperative that tourists take out travel or medical insurance, specifically one which makes provision for emergency evacuations, prior to leaving for the country. Travelers suffering from specific or chronic conditions should definitely bring a supply of medication as there is no guarantee it will be found in the country.

Water from the faucet is generally considered not safe to drink and travelers should aim to sterilize all water or use bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth and cooking. Food is considered safe, especially if it is well-cooked, but travelers should probably steer clear from food being sold on the side of the road as there is not guarantee as to its cleanliness. Fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed and peeled, and ideally cooked before being eaten.

The Central African region is still one characterized by political and economic instability. Many of Rwanda’s borders with neighboring countries are unsafe due to the continual outbreaks of violence between competing factions. Travelers are warned to avoid such areas including the rural areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the rural areas which border Burundi. Gorilla trekking near the Congolese border is still considered safe, however, as there is a large Rwandan security presence.

Apart from this, Rwanda is quite a safe country and the usual tourism-related crimes of muggings and pickpocketing are not prolific. As a matter of caution, however, travelers should aim to walk in large groups, especially at night.

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