Uganda and Rwanda Travel Information
Visa - for those who require one - can be purchased in advance through the Ugandan or Rwandan embassy or consulate in your home country.
Visa can also be obtained upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, Kigali International Airport or at any overland border.
When crossing the Rwandan border overland or when you arrive at Kigali International Airport, you must apply for an entry visa (single entry and valid for 15 days) through an online application form which can be found at www.migration.gov.rw/singleform.php
After sending this form you will get a response from the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration. Receiving this response can take from 30 minutes to 4 days (and please check your SPAM folder).
We strongly advise you do this before your departure to Africa. If you are flying into Rwanda it is an absolute necessity! In the form you will be asked to mention your entry point. Normally we use entry point number 5 (Cyanika) when you are coming from South-Western Uganda. This is the border crossing near Volcanoes National Park.
When arriving in Kigali by plane you will use entry point number 1 (Kigali International Airport). It is your own responsibility to arrange your visa(s) correctly and in time, but if anything is unclear of course we will be glad to assist you!
Foreign exchange and ATM facilities are very limited in Uganda and Rwanda (outside Kampala, Entebbe and Kigali). So we advise our clients to bring enough money with them for their trip (in US Dollars, Euros or Pound Sterling) and exchange it for local currency at banks or forex bureau's in large towns.
Traveller’s Cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala and Kigali and it is very difficult or impossible to pay by credit card outside Kampala and Kigali. Uganda's currency is the Ugandan Shilling. The currency of Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc.
The US dollar is traditionally the preferred currency, but the Euro and Pound Sterling are also widely accepted. Please check the latest exchange rates before you go to Uganda or Rwanda.
A certificate proving that you have received a yellow fever vaccination is obligatory. Furthermore all required inoculations must be recorded by your health practitioner on a valid vaccination certificate. You must carry this document with you throughout the tour.
All visitors should take malaria prophylactic drugs. We also advise that you bring a mosquito repellent and a mosquito net with you. Most lodges do have mosquito nets, but not all. Uganda's/Rwanda's tap water is not suitable for consumption so please only drink bottled water. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist for up to date requirements and personal recommendations!
AMREF Flying Doctors
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We advise you to apply for a Flying Doctors membership. The membership provides a quick and reliable air evacuation and medical care if needed. The membership can be arranged for 2 weeks or for 2 months; for a radius of 500 or 1000 kilometres from Nairobi. For Uganda and Rwanda you need the 1000 kilometres radius. Please check out the AMREF Flying Doctors website for more information and to become a member: www.amref.org/flying-doctors/buy-flying-doctors-membership
Educated Ugandans are generally fluent in English, which is the official language in Uganda. Next to English there are about 30-plus different indigenous languages. The official language of Rwanda is French, but at the main tourist attractions many people will also speak English.
When to visit
Uganda and Rwanda can be visited at any time throughout the year. But please keep in mind that mountain hikes, gorilla tracking and other forest walks are more challenging during the rains (March - May and October - November). For birders the rainy season is considered to be the best time to visit Uganda and Rwanda.
What to wear
Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, so bring lots of light clothing. Evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes, so carry a couple of sweaters too. Those who intend to do mountain hiking will be exposed to alpine temperatures and should pack accordingly. Solid walking shoes and sturdy clothing are ideal for forest walks. Don't forget to bring a hat, sunglasses and a waterproof jacket.
What to bring
A valid passport (including visa) is mandatory. Your passport must be valid for at least 3 more months before your tour with Abira Tours. To make the most of your visit to the game reserves and national parks it is advisable to carry binoculars and field guides. Photographers will need a zoom lens for wildlife (70-300 or more). Please make sure to carry enough memory cards or films with you.
Toiletries and other essentials can be bought in the cities. We advise you to take an international adapter with you for your electric equipment. The system used in Uganda and Rwanda is the British system. A flashlight can prove to be useful since the electricity can be cut off every now and then.
Driving in Uganda is on the left-hand side, while driving in Rwanda is on the right-hand side. Visitors without extensive experience with African roads are advised to travel with a 4x4 vehicle driven by a knowledgeable driver/guide.
Facilities and accommodations
Bathroom facilities and accommodations can be very basic in Uganda and Rwanda when travelling on a medium to low budget.
Tipping will always be appreciated. It is normal to tip the guides and drivers.
The Bradt Travel Guide is the most detailed guidebook for both countries. The Lonely Planet, Footprint Guides and Spectrum Guides produce other guidebooks. For wildlife, the best guidebook is 'Watching Wildlife East Africa' from the Lonely Planet.