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Is Rwanda Safe To Visit

Is Rwanda safe to visit? Is a frequently asked question by travelers and the answer is YES. 

Rwanda is one of the safest travel destinations to visit in Africa and one of the countries with a stable political environment, the country was recently voted the world’s 9th safest country and Africa’s safest country by the World Economic Forum – a head of Qatar, Luxembourg, Portugal, New Zealand, Austria, Estonia, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, and Morocco.

In 2022, Rwanda – the land of a thousand hills was listed as the sixth-safest country in the world for solo travelers. 

In response to Rwanda’s horrific 1994 genocide, the country embarked on an effort to pull the country together rather than further dividing it. Today this has the effect of a solid safety record for travelers on Rwanda safari and Rwandans, with an emphasis on security.  

Overall, Rwanda is a safe destination for tourists to visit. 

This blog post we detail more about how safe it is to visit Rwanda and share tips on Rwanda Travel Safety.

Rwanda is one of the cleanest, friendliest and safest places you can visit in Africa. Following the 1994 genocide, the government of Rwanda embarked on a program of nation-building. Aided by a stable political climate, this involved establishing a national identity around being a Rwandan which included stiff lines for racist or divisive talk or behavior. 

Also, Rwanda implemented a nationwide community service known as Umuganda. As a result, Rwanda is very safe and clean with a culture of care that permeates the society. Tourism in Rwanda has had a positive impact on many Rwandans. 

Each year, thousands of tourists visit the country to see the rare and endangered mountain gorillas that live in the misty forests of Volcanoes National Park, of course there are many other exciting attractions to see in the country. Tourism plays a huge role in the economy of Rwanda and because of this, the country does its best to ensure its visitors’ safety and comfort. 

However, it is important to note that Rwanda is not perfect just like any other country. The country is still poor and the geopolitical situation with DR.Congo sometimes results in border tensions. However, for the vast majority of visitors to the country. Rwanda is a safe safari destination.

YES, Rwanda is completely safe for American tourists and every nationality to visit. 

 When consulting travel advisories compiled by foreign governments, the risk associated with travel to Rwanda is often exaggerated.  

To reiterate, any potential risks are also largely mitigated when booking with a reputable tour operator. It is also worth noting that Rwandans are known to be friendly people who welcome thousands of tourists to their home on an annual basis.  

Like many countries across the globe, Rwanda has its trials and tribulations.

Research is important as it can help you know what to expect, misinformation is misleading and can paint the country in a negative light. We advise you to speak to our dedicated Rwanda Safari Experts and allow them to address any questions or concerns you may have.  

Traveling to Rwanda is no more dangerous than visiting any other country, but it is always good to be aware of the possible risks that might come up.

Note that Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa to visit, crime in Rwanda is limited to pickpocketing, petty theft, fraud, credit card scams and car break-ins. These incidents are more common in Kigali City around busy markets, stations and shops, violent crimes against tourists are rare in Rwanda.   

Just like any destination, there are a few street – smart rules to follow. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid flashing expensive phones, cameras, watches or jewelry and never leave valuables in your car. In addition to these, do not walk around alone after dark. 

If you are a victim of a crime while on a visit in Rwanda, report it at the nearest police station. The Rwanda Police are pleasantly reliable, be aware that crime does happen but do not let it ruin your vacation. Rwandan people are famously friendly, welcoming and hospitable. 

Due to the ongoing political tension and conflict, the border areas between Rwanda and DR Congo are a risk. 

This border runs through the Virunga Volcanoes and lies in Volcanoes National Park, the ongoing conflict between the government of Congo, M23 rebels and the Rwandan government in the eastern DR Congo has resulted into an unstable climate.

Virunga National Park in Congo monitors the conflict and only allows tourists when the situation is stable, similarly both the border Between Rwanda and DRC and the border area that runs through Volcanoes National Park are closely monitored.

The areas with gorillas visited by tourists are not affected by these conflicts, visitors doing gorilla trekking safaris must abide by permits and are accompanied by experienced guides which helps ensure visitor’s safety.

When visiting national parks in Rwanda with wildlife, it is important to listen to the experienced guides and rangers accompanying you. While all expeditions and encounters are carefully managed, there are still local wildlife laws and safety precautions that need to be adhered to.

This is simply a reminder to listen to professionals when in environments you are unfamiliar with, an example of this would be when guides tell you to always keep the recommended distance of at least 7 meters from gorillas. 

Tap water is not recommended for drinking in Rwanda, for environmental reasons try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your tour leader where filtered water can be found, some hotels in Rwanda offer drinking water. 

It is also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and eating fruits and vegetables, peel them first. 

Additionally, when staying at some of the top lodges, hotels and camps in Rwanda, you can expect nothing but quality, delicious food crafted to the highest standards. Each meal will be well thought out, meticulously prepared and leave you looking forward to more.  

Malaria is a high risk throughout most of Rwanda, except for Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks where the risk is low due to the high altitude.

Akagera National Park and Lake Kivu are particularly high – risk zones. The highest risk of transmission is during the wet season (October to May). 

CDC recommends that travelers going to Rwanda take prescription medicine to prevent malaria, depending on the medicine you take, you will need to start taking this medicine multiple days before your trip as well as during and after your trip.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is considered very safe.

Throughout the years, dangerous incidents are unheard of as all travelers visit habituated gorilla families and are escorted by experienced park rangers and guides. The gorillas of Rwanda see people every day and they have learned that people are no threat to them, they typically ignore humans although young gorillas may sometimes show some curiosity. Mountain gorillas are gentle giants.  

Gorillas show a little aggression toward each other and their overall vibes are very peaceful, for the safety of gorillas and the visitors, here are some gorilla trekking safety precautions 

  • Religious follow the instructions of your guide 
  • Please stay together as a group with your guide 
  • Always keep a distance of at least 7 meters from the gorilla
  • If a gorilla approaches you, wait for the instructions from your guide 
  • In a rare occasion of a gorilla charging, crouch down slowly, look down and wait for further instructions from your guide
  • Never look gorillas in the eyes 
  • Don’t make any sudden movements and keep your voice down 
  • Never block the path of gorillas when they are walking 
  • Don’t use a flash when photographing gorillas 
  • Never take food or drink close to gorillas
  • Wear a hat, use sunscreen and drink plenty of water 
  • Wear sturdy walking shoes and waterproof clothing 
  • Bring a waterproof bag for your camera and other belongings

Rwanda has been hailed as a safe tourism destination for solo female travelers and this is evidenced from many female tourists who come to Rwanda every year and leave without having experienced any problems at all. As with all travelers to Rwanda, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables out of sight. 

 When on a safari, the chance of having your belongings stolen or running into trouble is minimal. All guests are treated with the maximum respect by staff and properties are secure. 

Kigali – the capital city of Rwanda is a well-run, safe and clean city. But as a traveler you should keep your wits about you and observe the necessary precautions. Bag snatching, smash and grabs in traffic and pickpocketing around bus stations and busy markets do occur. You need to be sensible and exercise a little caution if you want to avoid any unwanted attention.  

Do not flash cash or expensive valuables. Leave valuables at your hotel and carry a small amount of cash. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t walk alone, particularly at night. If you are out at night, have a reliable life to get you home.   

There are many travel advisories issued for Rwanda, the governments of USA, UK and Canada warn against crime in Kigali, ongoing border tensions between Rwanda and Burundi, and Rwanda and the DR Congo. 

They advise that border areas are avoided and that tourists experience caution when visiting Rwanda’s capital city. This is a changing landscape. For up-to- date travel advisories, check in on government websites below  

  • A passport valid for at least six months is required by all visitors to Rwanda.
  • Visas are required to all visitors except citizens of African countries, you can apply for a visa online or at Rwanda Diplomatic Missions of your country of residence before departure. Those applying online have the option to pay online or upon arrival. Visas in Rwanda are valid for three months and can usually be extended in Kigali on a month-by month payment basis. A gorilla trekking permit is essential. 

It is important to note that children under 15 are not permitted on gorilla treks in Rwanda. 

  • Buy good travel and health insurance 
  • It is not safe to drink tap water in Rwanda 
  • Do not bring plastic bags to Rwanda as their use is banned, the country banned the use of single use plastics and it is illegal to bring these in the country. 
  • Do not liter 
  • Kigali is one of the cleanest cities in the world, so much so that tourists from first countries are wowed by what they see upon arrival in Rwanda.
  • Littering and engaging in acts that cause disorder are frowned upon and so the culture of cleanliness and tidiness has been built among the Rwandan people 
  • Rwanda is a conservative country and as such, visitors should dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention 
  • Solo female travelers should wear skirts that fall below the knee and men should avoid taking off their shorts in public 
  • Avoid careless talk about the genocide, many people lost family members and trauma is still widespread 
  • Be respectful and avoid referring to people by their ethnicity 

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