Visiting Rwanda For The First Time: A Solo Traveler’s Guide

Referred to as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is one of the most visited African countries. Many solo travelers prefer this country because of its friendly citizens, relatively low crime rate, and safe destinations. In addition, Rwanda is home to a significant number of tourist attractions.

gorilla trekking rwanda uganda drc congo

Suppose you’re planning to travel alone to Rwanda anytime soon for the first time. In that case, you may need a guide for solo travelers. This way, you’ll know the vital things you need to prepare before and during your trip. This may also give you ideas of what to expect from this remarkable country. For that purpose, here’s a guide to help you. So, read on!


Travel Requirements for Rwanda

If you’re an international traveler, you may still need to present a negative antigen result taken three days before departure. You may also need to fill out a passenger locator form and upload a COVID-19 test certificate. After completing the form, you have to pay USD$60 in advance for the mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that you’d take once you arrive in Rwanda.

Boda bodas in Kigali
Boda bodas in Kigali


Top Places To Visit in Rwanda

To make the most of your Rwanda trip, you need to know the top tourist destinations in the country. For that purpose, here are some places you might want to include in your itinerary:


Volcanoes National Park

Encounters with playful gorillas are some of the highlights of a trip to Rwanda. These typically happen during gorilla trekking at Volcanoes National Park. To date, experts say that about 600 gorillas live in the park, and a number of them show up during trekking. To catch a glimpse of these fantastic creatures, you need to secure a trekking permit.

volcanoes national park rwanda

In most cases, many porters guide you through the trails while they showcase their mode of communication with the gorillas—a set of clicking sounds. Since most gorillas are generally apathetic, an encounter with them is entertaining and safe.


Nyungwe Forest National Park

This national park is one of Rwanda’s most vital forest conservation areas. It’s known for its remarkable biodiversity, including over a thousand plant species and around 400 animal species. In addition, this park is home to groups of chimpanzees that many tourists find fascinating.

Aside from the animals, Nyungwe Forest National Park boasts of a 91-meter suspension bridge and a 90-minute canopied trail, one of the 15 active hiking trails in the park.


Akagera National Park

Two hours and a half away from Kigali, Akagera National Park is a 1,140-square-kilometer mix of wetlands and savannahs. You may take a safari ride to enjoy the views in this park, which typically include a dazzle of zebras and bloat of hippos. You may also find elephants, crocodiles, and giraffes in this part of the wetlands.


Lake Kivu

Rwanda’s largest Lake, Lake Kivu, is known for its emerald oasis, stunning waterfront, and picturesque beaches. You may also enjoy multi-day paddling and kayaking aside from viewing the panoramic lake environment. To maximize your Lake Kivu experience, consider renting a stunning lake resort.


King’s Palace Museum

One of Rwanda’s eight museums, King’s Palace, is known for its inyambo or sacred cows and their horns. You’ll get to witness how traditional chanters sing to the sacred cows as a tradition. Aside from this, the location housed the then-residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa in the 20th century. You’ll be amazed by the colonial-style home, European-style furniture, and traditional milk hut in Nyanza District.


Ethnographic Museum

Aside from the King’s Palace, another notable attraction in Rwanda is the Ethnographic Museum. Located in the south of Kigali, this museum is home to various archaeological and ethnological artifacts. Its seven galleries showcase multiple collections ranging from traditional garments to decades-old musical drums.


Kigali Restaurants

If you’re raring to try Rwanda’s delectable dishes, you may dine in the city’s famous restaurants. Have a taste of umutsima (corn and cassava porridge) and kachumbari (tomato and onion salad). You may also try Rwanda’s native fruits, such as mangos, bananas, and avocados.

Don’t pass up the chance to sample local coffee concoctions mixed with tree tomatoes and fresh seafood. Savor local and international dishes while watching the dazzling sights from the viewpoint of Kigali.


Inema Art Center

You may visit Inema Art Center in Kigali if you’re an art enthusiast. This institution houses mixed-media forms, sculptures, and paintings by local artists. In most displays, Rwandan artists give modern takes on traditional crafts.


Kigali Memorial Center Genocide Memorial

Built to remember the victims of genocide, Kigali Memorial Center Genocide Memorial has become a go-to destination through the years. This memorial holds footage, photos, and documents of Rwanda’s dark past. You may take a moment to contemplate the atrocities committed against the Tutsi and make a commitment to prevent discrimination. 

Genocide Memorial Kigali Rwanda
Genocide Memorial


Travel tips for Solo Travel

Before buying a ticket for your solo travel, you may need to take careful note of the following reminders to make your trip safe, memorable, and fulfilling:

  • Currency

You may use US dollars in your financial transactions, including hotels and fine-dining restaurants. However, it’s advisable to exchange some for Rwandan francs as these are more appropriate for minor expenses like taxi fares and coffee.

  • Health And Safety

Throughout your trips, bring bottled water to keep you hydrated. Avoid drinking tap water or beverages with ice as water-borne diseases are common in the country.

  • Communication

You’ll be able to communicate with most people in English, although French, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda are used in most parts of Rwanda. For internet connection, you may need to buy local SIM cards if you’re going to locations far from the cities.


Wrapping Up

If you’re packing up for your solo travel in Rwanda, refer to this article for some guidance and information. Aside from giving pointers to make your trip reasonably hassle-free, it lists Rwanda’s top destinations.

In addition, it expounds on the things you need to know before setting off on your Rwanda expedition. To explore other must-see places in Rwanda, you may follow travel blogs focused on African countries. These blogs also provide information on other attractions and exciting activities to try. 

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I'm a dual Canadian-American from NYC that moved to South Africa for work and ended up traveling all through the continent. I'm currently living the expat life in Frankfurt, Germany and traveling the world as much as I can. I'm a bit obsessed with scuba diving, churning credit cards so I never pay to fly, and eating the most questionable of foods in the most peculiar of places. My bucket list is the world, and some day I might make it there.

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