Safety and security
The border crossings between Rwanda and the DRC at Gisenyi/Goma and Cyangugu/Bukavu are currently open between 6am and 6pm. Both borders are liable to close at short notice and you should not rely on them as a point of exit from DRC. The Ministry of Health in Rwanda has established new policies for every traveller, including health care workers and humanitarian volunteers, wishing to enter Rwanda from Ebola-affected areas of DRC (see DRC travel advice: Health). The policy mandates that you should provide advance notice of your intention to travel to Rwanda to the Rwandan Ministry of Health, and you will need to comply with quarantine procedures for a period of 21 days before onward travel within or through Rwanda is permitted. If you’re crossing regularly between Rwanda and the DRC you may encounter immigration difficulties if you have not regularised your residency status. Take care when travelling near the borders with DRC and Burundi. This is because of instability close to both borders.
Relations between Rwanda and Burundi are strained. In July 2016, Burundi banned public transport vehicles from crossing the border with Rwanda and introduced restrictions on Burundian food products being exported into Rwanda. Tensions along the Rwanda/Burundi border remain heightened, with allegations from both sides of cross-border raids targeting local inhabitants.
Gorilla trekking is available as part of organised tours in the Parc National des Volcans (also known as Volcanoes Park). The park authorities only permit gorilla trekking that is undertaken as part of an organised tour.
Grenade attacks have occurred sporadically over the last five years. Genocide memorial sites, markets, bus stops, and taxis have been targets in Kigali and Ruhengeri (Musanze). The most recent grenade attack was in June 2017 in Rusizi district, which killed at least one person. While such attacks have reduced in frequency, further indiscriminate attacks cannot be ruled out, including in places frequented by foreigners. You should remain vigilant.
Levels of crime remain relatively low in Rwanda, but there have been reports of increased instances of burglary, theft and mugging in Kigali in recent months. Incidents of bag snatching, mugging and stealing from vehicles in traffic jams targeting foreigners have been reported in recent months.
You should take sensible precautions. Take care when walking at night. Pre-arrange transport. Lock car doors when driving, don’t leave valuables in cars when parked and don’t leave cars unsupervised in the town centre. Don’t carry large amounts of money or other valuables.
Some off-limits military zones in Kigali may not be well-lit or signposted. You should take extra care when walking around less populated zones, particularly at night time.
You can drive using a UK driving licence or an International Driving Permit for up to 1 year, after which you should apply for a Rwandan licence. To apply for a local driving licence, you need to write a letter of application to the Commissioner Traffic and Road Safety attaching your existing licence and a copy of your visa or Foreign Resident ID card, and pay a fee.
Roads from Kigali to all major towns are good. There can be landslides during the annual rains in late spring and autumn. Avoid road travel after dark as roads are unlit and driving standards are poor.
Shared taxis (mini-vans) and motorbike taxis are the most common form of public transport within towns and around the country. However, they are also the most vulnerable to accidents.
Before using internal or regional flights that are not with major international carriers, you should check the airline’s accreditation and see whether the airline operates in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) safety standards.
Health and Safety
Levels of health and safety in Rwanda are lower than in the UK. There have been incidences of buildings and construction sites collapsing, causing deaths and serious injuries. Fire safety standards are also variable, with incidences of fire in residential and public places a continuing risk.
There have been a number of building fires apparently caused by poor wiring and substandard electrical cables. Take extra care when using electronic equipment.