General Information About Rwanda – Information about Rwanda Safaris
Before you set out for a Rwanda safari many questions will probably come up and you will need a response to them. Do I stay safe when I safari Rwanda? Do I need a visa for a Rwanda tour? What’s the time zone in Rwanda? How do I get around in Rwanda? What’s Rwanda’s dialing code? These and many more queries are what we respond to here such that you can know before you go;
Overview – General Information about Rwanda | Rwanda General Information
Rwanda’s history as Rwanda Safari product
Rwanda was a monarchical Kingdom right from the pre-colonial era with three tribal groups namely the Bahutu who were the majority 85%, the Batutsi 14% and Batwa who comprised 1%. These people had different modes of livelihood as the Tutsi were cattle keepers, the Batwa were cultivators while the Twa were hunter gatherers. The Kingship was in the hands of the Batutsi and the leadership was hereditary. Since there were no overlapping interests, the traditional Rwanda was at peace and these three tribal groups despite the distinct differences, they lived together in the society harmoniously. These tribal groups are noted to have varying ethnic origins with the Bahutu belonging to the Bantu group while the Tutsi belonged to the Hamitic groups from the north east of Africa. The Batwa are indigenous to the region of East Africa. The political history commences with King Rwabugiri’s reign that ascended the throne in the year 1860 and expanded the Kingdom as far as the present state of Rwanda on a feudal arrangement. In the period 1887 – 1914, the traditional highlands of Rwanda became of interest to the Europeans and in the year 1894, Count Von Götzen a German national visited the court of Rwabugiri. Unfortunately, the King passed away the following year and the succession turmoil had to arise and the Germans took advantage of the situation and conquered Rwanda in addition to Burundi forming the Ruanda- Urundi territory for their mighty Kaiser. The German rule did not last long as her colonies were taken from it following its defeat in the World War 1 1914 – 18 a decision that was taken in the hall of mirrors in France under the Versailles Settlement of 1919. The Belgians took over until 1962 following the League of Nations resolution in 1924 that granted Belgium the responsibility of managing the colony. However, it should be noted that the Belgian were already in Congo with the center of administration in Brussels. When Ruanda – Urundi was added, the administration was left in the hands of the Tutsi as it was traditionally and took advantage of the differences in these two major tribal groups. The colonialists introduced forced labor targeting the Hutu as the workers but put the Tutsis as their supervisors which spoilt the relations between these two local groups without realizing who exactly the enemy was. In the year 1993, every individual in Rwanda was required to have an identity card showing the tribe. The relations between these two groups worsened in the 1950s and the few educated Hutus started to mobilize against the Tutsi culminating into the 1959 Rwandan Revolution which put many Tutsis in exile including the then reigning Mwami Kigeri who was 25 years old then. Elections were conducted in the process of preparing Rwanda for independence and Gregory Kibanda emerged the winner and was one of the Hutu manifesto authors. He led the provisional government up to the independence time. However, in the neighboring Urundi, the Tutsi managed to persist and a joint Tutsi and Hutu party won the 1961 elections under the leadership of Prince Rwagasore who was Mwami’s eldest son. Though he was assassinated a little time after, the incident did not lure Burundi into an ethnic conflict. In the year 1962, Rwanda attained her independence and it became a republic and it was when the name changed from Ruanda to Rwanda. However, Urundi maintained a constitutional monarchy but name also changed to Burundi. Gregory Kaibanda under his Party for the Emancipation of the Hutu (Parti du Mouvement de l’Emancipation du Peuple Hutu) won the first Presidential election and by the name of the party, one can tell what his government policy would focus on.
Is Rwanda safe?
Ranked as the 9th safest country in the world and 1st safer country to UK by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Rwanda is definitely a safe haven to visit. For several years in a row, Rwanda has been stable and safe to all international tourist. Under a presidential Republic, the government of Rwanda works hand in hand with the people of Rwanda to keep the country peaceful. When the government and the people feel the relevance of security in their country, then you can guarantee peace in the country.
However, Rwanda is a landlocked country and instability in the neighboring countries would probably affect Rwanda therefore its advisable that you always check on the latest Foreign Office Advise for your destination. Always keep up to date for all security issues before you travel.
Rwanda’s History – Twenty-four years back, in 1994, the civil war in Rwanda popularly dubbed Rwanda’s genocide dominated the world’s headlines. During this tragic time hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives with a lot of this history in the Gisozi genocide memorial center of Kigali for those who would like to know of the events that led up to the genocide.
Today, Rwanda has beaten all odds and made it to the top 20 safest countries to visit. The government promotes harmony and peace with the people so eager to see everlasting peace in their country. The history of Rwanda turned to stories to tell and all through your tour are smiles from the people who call Rwanda home.
Do I need a Visa to go to Rwanda?
Do I need a Visa to go to Rwanda? All travelers to Rwanda on international flights need a Visa to get in to Rwanda. For those crossing the borders by road, you need a valid passport or valid identification. It is advisable to always check with the local Rwandan embassy to always know the current regulations before you go for a safari in Rwanda. Read More
What’s the time zone in Rwanda?
What’s the time zone in Rwanda? – Rwanda is always two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2) with no distinct time between winter and summer. Depending on where you are arriving from, you either gain or loose some time and its advisable to use the Rwanda timing when you get into the country.
Currency used in Rwanda
Rwanda’s national currency is the Rwandan franc (RWF). The exchange rate is not constant therefore you need to know the rates before you get on the go such that you can plan accordingly. You can exchange your currency to the Rwandan franc on arrival in Kigali international airport or from a forex bureau within the country.
International Dialing Code for Rwanda
Rwanda’s International Dialing Code is +250. To make an international call from Rwanda, you dial 00 as the exit code for Rwanda followed by ISD or country code for a specific country (you are calling to), then area code (for that country if applicable) or recipients’ number after the ISD code. Rwandatel is another better option to use to make your international calls.
Food Stuffs in Rwanda
Within the heart of Africa, the food in Rwanda is mostly fresh and varies in cuisines. Fresh fruits are almost everywhere in the country produced in the fertile land of the country. From all the different hotels in the country, you have chance to taste a variety of food stuffs which you select according to menu. Hygiene may vary in the different hotels and being cautious when taking something for the first time is highly recommendable.
Traditional diet in Rwanda comprises of simple meals made with locally grown ingredients with main foods being sweet potatoes, beans, corn, peas, millet, plantains, cassava, and fruit. The other dishes include the Umutsima (a dish of cassava and corn), isombe (cassava leaves with Eggplant and spinach) and mizuzu (fried plantains) are common dishes.
How to get around/travel in Rwanda
The roads in Rwanda are mostly paved especially in urban cities connecting to the different towns and border points of the country. The dirt roads quality varies from smooth hard surfaces with drainage to rutted extremely uneven tracks passable only with a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle. With a good vehicle, traveling is fairly easy with a drive speed of 40kn/h (25mph) in towns and 60km/h in provinces. Find More about how to get around/travel in Rwanda
Health Facilities in Rwanda
Rwanda’s health services are up to western standards with hospitals varying in classes depending on the services they offer. While getting into the country its required of you to have a yellow fever certificate. Taking malaria precautions is also recommendable since malaria is widespread throughout lowland Rwanda. Its advisable to carry your medical records for easy medication in case there’s need. Also, if it’s a safari involving strenuous activities always consult your doctor before travelling and if there’s need for advice on complications like altitude sickness then you receive it before you leave.
Languages spoken in Rwanda
The main/national language spoken in Rwanda is Kinyarwanda (a Bantu language). French is widely spoken and English is also spoken by many people especially Rwanda safari driver guides.
Weather and climate in Rwanda
Though being close to the equator, Rwanda’s climate varies from the neighboring countries. The climate is cooled by the high altitudes in the country from the famous slogan the land of a thousand hills. It’s warm throughout the year though cooler in the mountains with 2 rainy seasons in mid-January to April and mid-October to mid-December. Click Here to Read More about Weather and climate in Rwanda
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