Rwanda is a small African country. It is in between Uganda, Tanzania and The Congo, some of the biggest ones of East and Central Africa. It is an excellent place for tourists and is considered as one of the fantastic tourist destinations in the world. Here are the top 10 things you should consider before putting Rwanda into your travel itinerary.
Rwanda is modern and well-organized
Some people expect Rwanda to be raw, authentic and traditional Africa type country, just because it is an African country. However, to your surprise, you will find Rwanda to be too clean, too modern and too westernised. There are street signs, movie theatre, several coffee houses, modern taxis available, Wi-Fi everywhere, streets are clean and lined up with flowery trees and sidewalks. You will find public transport running on time and they are filled to capacity.
Rules are rules and you have to respect them
There are strict rules and regulations in Rwanda and people follow them well. Here you will find motorcycle taxi driver wearing helmets and carrying another one for the passenger that sits. The driver will not let you sit without wearing the helmet. It seems that Rwandese follow the laws which minimise chaos and disorder in the country.
It is a safe place
There are streets lighted and people are seen out and engaged in something or the other activities even after dark. It is a safe place even in the evenings.
Roads are in excellent condition
Roads are in perfect condition in Rwanda, which comes as pleasant surprise for many. However it is usually windy there. If you are prone to motion sickness or have serious fear of heights, do not forget to bring your pills with you.
You may find a strange language situation
English is the official language of Rwanda since 1994 and the education system switched to English from French only in 2008. So, you might find a problem with language with locals because some people only know French while some only know English. If you enter the rural part and meet less educated people, none of the two will work because they know the specific language spoken there since years.
Plastic bags are banned
You will be surprised to know that non-biodegradable plastic bags are considered illegal here. When visitors arrive here, their baggage is checked for plastic bags. Anyone found here with the plastic bag is fined up to $150 and if a store owner is found stocking them, he will face one year of prison. Rwanda is determined to become the first plastic free nation of the world.
Accommodation is pricey
If you compare the accommodation and other things like transportation, safaris, activities, food and drinks from neighbouring countries, they are expensive. Hotels and places to stay are costly. But if you are ready to sleep in a stuffy, windowless closet, you can have a cheaper stay out there.
No ATM machines
You cannot get cash from an ATM machine in Rwanda. You may find some ATMs but they are for local accounts only.
Getting cash is a bit difficult in Rwanda
Also, cash is accepted only when the series of the notes are issued after 2000. So, if you take cash make sure you take the notes that are issued after 2000. However, some banks and moneychangers do accept notes of series issued before 2000, but they deduct at least 5% from the transaction.
Practical problems using credit cards
Some of the banks may give you cash advance for Master Cards, but Visa Cards are not accepted in Rwanda. They do not have the infrastructure to clear the Visa card and so often they would say that there is a problem in your card even if there is none.
So, when you decide to visit Rwanda, take some precautions and go prepared so that you enjoy the natural habitat along with the satisfaction of visiting a well-organized African country. You will find mountain gorillas in their natural habitat here, which is rarely found. This is a place with lots of dancing and singing. In fact, it is a beautiful and almost unexplored place which you would definitely like to travel.