Languages in Rwanda

Unusually for Africa, Rwanda is essentially a mono-linguistic state, with the first language of practically all citizens being Kinyarwanda. In addition, most Rwandans speak a little of at least one international language. Historically, French was the most widely recognised European language, thanks to almost 50 years of Belgian colonisation. These days, however, English probably has the greater presence, partly because so many long-term exiles who returned after the genocide were educated in Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania, partly because it replaced French as the international language of education in 2009. In rural areas, KiSwahili, a coastal Bantu language that has come to serve as the lingua franca of East Africa, is still more widely understood than either English or French. From a visitor’s perspective, it is pretty easy to get around in either English or French, both of which are recognised as an official language alongside Kinyarwanda, but English is undoubtedly the primary language of the tourist industry.


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Travelling in Rwanda

Credit: MVMT Blog Most people explore Rwanda on a bespoke safari or tour arranged through any of innumerable international and local operators. Trunk roads are surfaced and well maintained, so self-drive is an option, provided you have a valid international license and are prepared to adjust to relatively reckless local road mores. Driving is on the right side of the road, as in the USA and mainland Europe, which may require some adjustment for drivers accustomed to driving on the…

Food and tipping in Rwanda

Kigali Serena Hotel Tipping is not standard at eateries or bars catering mainly to a local clientele, but that doesn’t mean a small something won’t be appreciated by the recipient. Tourist-oriented restaurants operate on a similar basis to those in Europe. A 10% tip to the waiter is standard, depending on the quality of service. Hotel porters usually expect a tip equivalent to around US$1 per item of luggage. Tip in local currency where possible; it may be quite difficult for…

Changing money in Rwanda

The Rwandan franc (RWF) trades against most international currencies at a favourable rate. Major international credit/debit cards (for instance Master and Visa) can be used to draw local currency at 24-hour ATMs in most cities and towns, but not in the national parks. Many vendors do not accept cards, however, so it’s a good idea to carry a few hundred dollars’ worth of hard currency cash as a fall back. The Euro is the most readily accepted hard currency bit US dollars and to a…


Popular Rwanda Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

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Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders – to the endangered mountain gorillas and East Africa's Great Migration...

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