Rwanda & Uganda

Famous not only for its scenic beauty, with sloping hills, jagged mountains and vast rivers and lakes, Uganda is home to half of the world’s rare mountain gorillas. As Uganda’s most famous residents, the endangered mountain gorilla is the largest of the living primates. Living in the rainforests at heights ranging from 1,520 to 3,650 metres, the endangered gorillas are highly intelligent and surprise many with their shy and gentle nature.

When to Visit

The best time to travel to East Africa is during the dry season. East Africa has two dry seasons - December to Feruary/March and June to October. The annual migration of wildebeest and zebra herds takes place year round between the Serengeti (approx. November to June) and the Masai Mara (approx. July to October).

Highlights

GORILLA TREKKING IN RWANDA & UGANDA Track the rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitats in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. This is one of the most awe-inspiring, thrilling and poignant wildlife experiences imaginable.

ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK Game drives canl be enjoyed in the Ishasha area, looking for the huge herds of buffalo, elephant, Uganda kob and the famous tree-climbing lion found in the area.

KAZINGA CHANNEL You may encounter herds of elephant, buffalos and antelopes, large groups of hippos, and crocodiles basking on the shore. You can also get a glimpse of the spectacular view of the beautiful Mweya Peninsula and life in local fishing villages.

BIRD WATCHING Uganda boasts some of the best bird watching in Africa including the rare shoebill stork and the grey crowned crane.

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Useful Information

Electricity

Electrical Socket: European Voltage: 220-240 volts (same as New Zealand) Special Tip: Rwanda also uses the Swiss three pinned plug that will accept most European deceives and adaptors. Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical/modem adapters, or for further information on this matter, please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Rwanda: +250 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: Police - 112 Traffic Accidents - 113 Report Police Abuse - 3511 (including bribery) Police Headquarters - +250 7 8831 1155 King Faisal Hospital - 252 588888 or 58 88 88 (Kigali)

Shopping

The best place to buy souvenirs is the Caplaki craft co-operative in Kigali, where a number of craft traders have gotten together to build colourful wooden huts stocking a wide selection of handicrafts. Here you can find wood carvings including traditional masks; raffia work baskets, mobiles and jewellery; musical instruments; paintings; batik; bags, scarves and beading. It is all of good quality, but be prepared to bargain. ln town, the UTC building (Union Trade Centre) houses a good supermarket for buying coffees and teas to take home, and also stocks books, there are also a number of clothes shops and a gallery. Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda, so it is best to take a strong bag with you when shopping, particularly if buying bottles of beer, otherwise everything will be given to you in brown paper bags.Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0830-1300 and 1400-1730, Sat 0830-1230.

Tipping

It is customary to tip for service in local bars and restaurants, though you may sometimes want to leave a tip (in fact, given the difficulty of finding change in Uganda), you may particularly be forced into doing this in some circumstances. A tip of 5% would be very acceptable and 10% generous.

Getting around

Rwanda has possibly the best roads in East Africa. All of the major centres are connected with local and luxury bus services, although as with most of Africa these can be unreliable at times. Rwanda has no railways but there are many small airports dotted across the country making it easy to take a chartered flight between destinations

Language

Kinyarwanda 99%, English and French.

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

With its long history of hierarchical social relations, Rwandan culture puts great emphasis on practices of etiquette that demonstrate respect and emphasize social rank both inside and outside the family. Within the family, chairs are traditionally reserved for men, while other family members sit on mats on the floor. Men eat first, with women and children  eating after. Visitors are given the best chairs and the first choice of food and drink. Rwandans have an elaborate system of salutation that varies depending on the relative social rank and familiarity of the greeters. Rwandans almost always shake hands upon encountering someone. When greeting someone of higher rank, a person extends his or her right hand while placing the left hand on the right arm in a sign of deference. Close friends and others of equal rank may embrace, holding one another by the shoulders and brushing their heads together first on one side then on the other.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Rwanda. Frequent or long stay travellers should consider vaccination against hepatitis B. Vaccination against rabies (particularly if working with animals) and typhoid (particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene) should be considered by travellers to Rwanda. Cholera is reported in Rwanda but vaccination is generally not recommended. Care with food and beverage selection is far more important. There is a high risk of malaria in Rwanda and dengue fever also occurs, thus insect avoidance measures and anti malarial medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia). Yellow fever vaccination is usually required. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Rwanda should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

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