Rwanda's most prominent press is possibly the movie Hotel Rwanda, which focused on the history of the country, the 1994 Rwanda Genocide that left between 800 000 and million people dead. The conflict, was based on ethnic tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi Rwandans. While this is an integral part of the identity of Rwanda, this is not the only thing of importance about the country. We share some of the important things to know before heading out to the land of a thousand hills.
1. Visa Requirements
A person travelling with South African travel documents will need to have a visa to gain access into Rwanda. The procedure to get an entry visa requires that an application be made and a fee be paid upon arrival in Rwanda. For a tourist visa (T1) the visa is valid for 90 days and can be extended. Working under this visa is prohibited.
2. Is the country still in conflict?
The short answer is no. After the initial genocide about 2 million people were left displaced. A democratically elected president and government took over.There are, however, opposing sentiments that believe that the country's re-elected president is tyrant.
3. The languages and currency and health matters
Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda, and the first language of most of the country's population. French, English and Swahili are also official languages and Rwandan sign language is used by the deaf population.
Travellers going to Rwanda are encouraged to get Yellow Fever immunization shots as there is a current risk of contracting the disease in the country.It is also recommended that children over nine months receive this vaccine. Travellers are also encouraged to get immunised for Hepatitis A and B, Malaria, Typhoid and Rabies.
Rwanda's unit of currency is the Rwandan franc (Rwf). According to Rwanda Tourism's site, it is best to arrive in Rwanda with your currency which can then be exchanged at a bank. The most useful bank branch is the Banque de Kigali, which offers cash advances on credit cards and also accepts travelers' cheques.
4.. Places to go, things to see
Rwanda is known as the premier destination for Gorilla tracking, with the country being home to an endangered specie of gorilla. Experts estimate that the country is home to 13 species of primates. Rwanda also has East Africa's only canopy walk that is situated around the dense Nyungwe rainforest. Lions have also been introduced to the Akagera National Park in the east of the country, which makes the country a fully fledged safari destination. If the bush is not really your thing, there are plenty culture themed destinations to explore as well.
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