Rwanda Uganda Land Border Reopened 2022 (Rwanda Opens Its Border At Katuna)
Rwanda Uganda Land Border Reopened 2022 (Rwanda Opens Its Border At Katuna)
On January 31, 2022, the Rwanda Uganda land Border re-opened after nearly 3 years of closure. Rwanda government, in 2019, closed its borders with Uganda at Gatuna and Cyanika in Kabale and Kisoro districts respectively in southwestern Uganda.
These two border posts are the entrance point for travelers and goods crossing from Uganda to Rwanda and vice versa. The borders are near the amazing mountain gorilla trekking destinations of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, as well as Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
After the border closure, hundreds of cargo trucks and all tourists on Rwanda gorilla safaris from Uganda and those on Uganda gorilla safaris from Kigali Rwanda were stopped from crossing the two countries. At first, the government of Rwanda claimed that the closure was prompted by the ongoing constructions works to upgrade the customs post.
However, Rwanda later stopped its nationals from entering Uganda on claims that Uganda is interfering in their affairs. The closure of Rwanda Uganda land borders created financial hardships for Rwandan and Ugandan citizens doing business across the border.
Talks to reopen the border between Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda were hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco and Congolese leader Felix Tshisekedi, with the last such meeting taking place in February 2020. No meeting was held between the two leaders since, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Rwanda had insisted that the border would remain closed until the contentious issues are resolved, on 28th January 2022, in a statement shared by Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Adonia Ayebare, the Rwanda government decided to reopen its land border with Uganda on January 31st, 2022.
What Led The Reopening Of The Rwanda-Uganda Border?
According to the statement shared by Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Adonia Ayebare, on 28th January 2022, the reopening of the Rwanda-Uganda border follows the recent meeting between the UPDF commander of land forces and first son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba and President Paul Kagame.
The government added that the health authorities of Rwanda and Uganda will work together to put in place necessary measures to facilitate movement in the context of COVID-19.
Rwanda further expressed commitment to resolve the pending issues between them and Uganda and hopes that the reopening of the border serves as a speedy mechanism to improve the relations between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat on Friday, January 28, 2022, applauded the leadership of Rwanda and Uganda for their efforts towards re-opening of the land border posts, on January 31.
EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, hailed the move terming it as a boost to regional integration, noting that strengthening bilateral ties between the two EAC Partner States will revitalize social, economic, and political relations.
“Re-opening this strategic trade route is in line with the provisions of the EAC Common Market Protocol and is set to accelerate economic and social development of the Partner States by reviving the free movement of goods, persons, capital, and labour,” said Mathuki. Mathuki said that the re-opening of the border would also promote peace and security across the region.
Why Is The Border Reopening Significant For The Tourism In Rwanda And Uganda?
And according to the Rwanda tour operator’s forum, the opening of the border is also good news for East African cooperation, including tourism.
Many tourists undertake combined safaris in Uganda and Rwanda during their Africa safaris. These combined Rwanda Uganda safaris involve you flying to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and connecting to Uganda through the Cyanika border or Katuna or traveling from Uganda to Rwanda via the same borders.
From Rwanda, you can go gorilla trekking in Uganda, chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, or undertake Uganda wildlife safaris to explore its abundance of big gems.
This tour offers the quickest way to visit the Uganda gorilla safari destinations of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, as well as Queen Elizabeth National Park for game drives and boat cruise and Kibale National Park for Chimpanzees tracking. It gives you a shorter drive time while giving you a feel of both Uganda and Rwanda while on the trip. Also with the current price of the Rwanda Gorilla permit, Uganda is now a preferred destination for Gorilla safaris.
Cyanika Or Kyanika Border Crossing
Though it is less busy than the Gatuna Border post, Cyanika border crossing takes in more for tourists and individual travelers than the Gatuna border post. This is because it connects 2 major tourism hubs in Africa.
This border crossing is located in Kisoro district on the Uganda side and Burera District on Rwanda. Kisoro is where Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the home of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda are found.
The border is about 120km from Kigali city, 11km from the nearby Kisoro town.
Those who are booked for gorilla trekking in Uganda Bwindi or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park will find the Cyanika border post most reliable. It is closer to the Rushaga sector of Bwindi national park.
Kisoro is also very close to Mgahinga National Park, which is famous for 3 beautiful volcanoes, the Mountain Gorillas, and Golden Monkey trekking in Uganda.
Similarly, visitors on Rwanda gorilla safaris to Volcanoes National Park can travel to Rwanda from Uganda through the Kyanika border. Burera town in Rwanda is a tourism hotspot like Kisoro and has two amazing twin lakes in Lake Burera and Ruhondo.
The town is close to the Volcanoes National Park which is famous for gorilla trekking in Rwanda, the Musanze caves, and hiking mountains like Karisimbi.
And even tourists can continue from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via the Goma-Grand Barriere Border crossing and enjoy gorilla trekking in Congo or hike the active Mount Nyiragongo Volcano in Virunga National Park.
Crossing this border is relatively easy as long as you have all the required documents. It is important to have to hold an East African Tourist VISA if you are a tourist. If not, you may be asked to acquire a VISA for either Uganda or Rwanda.
The East African VISA makes everything look so simple. Apart from the Visa, you may be asked for your address or the contact information of the person you are visiting in either Uganda or Rwanda. When all documents and information have been verified, you will get a stamp on your passport and proceed to the other side of the border.
Gatuna Or Katuna Border Crossing
Known as Gatuna in Rwanda and Katuna in Uganda, the border post is the entrance point for travelers and goods crossing from Uganda to Rwanda and vice versa.
Most of the goods heading to Rwanda from Kenya pass through the Gatuna border. It has a greater tour and commercial traffic than the Cyanika border crossing.
On the Uganda side, the border post is found in Kabale (A district in the South Western part of Uganda). On the Rwanda side, the border is found in the district of Gichumbi.
Commercial vehicles dominate the Katuna border post. It is the busiest border post between Uganda and Rwanda. This border is open 24 hours.
Although it was designed for commercial purposes, it is in Kabale which is one of Uganda’s tourism hubs. To cross this border post, citizens from Uganda, Rwanda Gatuna Border, and some other countries do not need a VISA except for a National Identity Card. International travelers can acquire the VISA from the border post or use the new East African Tourist Visa.
Apart from the VISA and passport, the people in immigration will ask for contact details, address, and purpose of visiting the countries. If everything is clear, your passport will be stamped to allow you to proceed with your journey. Crossing the borders is by foot. You may need to change money from one of the many money exchange agents on both sides of the border.
The re-opening of the Rwanda Uganda land border is good news for the tourism sector in both countries. It is important to note that apart from the shorter drive, there are other reasons why tourists prefer to visit Uganda from Rwanda. Uganda has more unique activities and experiences than Rwanda. Uganda has 10 national parks and over 13 reserves.
Some of the unique tourist activities in Uganda are the gorilla habituation experience, hiking volcanoes, the Batwa cultural experience, game drives, whitewater rafting, golden monkey tracking, chimpanzee tracking, and launch cruises. Uganda in general has more hotels and lodges. If you plan to visit Uganda via Kigali, please contact us.
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