This forum helped me prepare our trip to Rwanda so I wanted to post a report of our stay there with some useful tips which might help others. Rwanda is absolutely amazing: gracious landscapes, beautiful fauna and flora, incredible experience with the gorillas and wonderful people!
5 things we were glad to bring:
a good sum of cash in USD which we changed in forex counters or used to pay hotels or activities accepting USD. We could not get money from any atms using our visa card. We managed to withdraw money using our Canadian debit cards (interac) but only at KCB atms.
walking sticks for our treks in the national parks
rain jacket and rain trousers for hikes in the forest
gloves to protect from nettles and other plants in the forest
cereal bar snacks as treats for after our hikes
Day 1: kigali
Stayed at the step town motel $55 per night. Very confortable and at walkable distance fron downtown. Also close from Uct a “mall” close to Place de l’Unité Nationale where you will find a supermarket and an excellent bar restaurant called Cafe Bourbon (with wifi connection).
Visit of kigali genocide memorial: admission is free, very interesting audio tour for $15. Count about 6000 rwf for a round trip from/ to the step town motel + waiting time.
Day 2: we hired a 4×4 with a driver with Amahoro tours for 100$ per day. Our driver Viateur was absolutely fantastic. He has just started at driving tourists around so he might not be as experienced as other confirmed drivers but he was very knowledgeable and always trying to find the best thing to do based on our needs and budget. You can contact him at email@example.com +250 (0)7 88 66 03 41.
Count about 7-10$ per day for tip.
Also we spend 180,000 rwf in gas for our entire trip.
We drove from Kigali to Kitabi in the Nyungwe National Park. En route, we stopped in Butare to visit the very interesting national museum (6,000 rwf pp)
Night at KCCEM guesthousein Kitabi: Very basic room with shared bathroom for 10,000 rwf per night. For dinner, you can go to the buffet and share your meal with local students for 3,000 rwf pp. Kccem is located in kitabi in the middle of a beautiful tea estate; staff was very friendly. It is close to the Uwinka park station of the Nyungwe National park but is a bit far off from Gisakura where activities like chimps are taking place; so you might have to choose between getting up very early to see the chimps or stay at the Gisakura guesthouse (more expensive though: 50$
day 3: hikes fron Uwinka. Most hikes start at either 8 or 9 and then at 1:00 pm in the afternoon. 50$ for hikes 5k. There are also shorter hikes for $40.
day 4: chimps: 90$; booked in advanced at the RDB office in Kigali ( note that there is no longer an office downtown; you have to go to the RDB HQ which is located where all the ministries are). Definitely worth it! We had to leave kitabi at 3:00 am though to be at Gisakura a little bit before 5:00 am. You definitely need a 4×4.
In the afternoon: Colobus; 70$ pp booked the same day at the Gisakura park office. That too was a fantastic experience although experience as you will see 50 Colobus jumping from one tree to the other and chasing each other cheerfully.
day 5: drive from Kitabi to Musanze; en route stop at the Muranbi genocide memorial. Lunch at the great restaurant La Tranquilite in Gitarama. Night at the CINFOP lodging in Musanze (10,000 rwf including breakfast — which we never got though). That is the only hotel we would not recommend. The room was dirty and the attached bathroom did not work (and I can tell you we are not picky!). We asked for hot water to bath and never got it; same for breakfast. Dinner at Hotel Urumuli; excellent value.
day 6: visit of lakes Rogendro and Burera by car from musanze up to Rusumo waterfalls; you need a 4×4. Amazing landscapes and hords of kids following you whenever you will stop to admire the panorama.
Night at Kinigi guesthouse (25,000 rwf per night including breakfast).
day 7: trek to Dian Fossey’s tomb in the Volcanoes National park. A must do trek: en route amazing views on the volcanoes. We also caught glimpses of gorillas and golden monkeys;
day 8: gorilla trek; this is a magical moment with the peaceful and amazing animals! A once in a lifetime experience. We had booked our permits months in advanced directly with ORTPN (500$ pp but now prices hace risen to 750$ pp).
In the afternoon drive to Gisenyi; stay at the Musanto hotel (27,000 rwf per night including breakfast)
day 9: farniente in Gisenyi and we went to Rubona by foot (very nice walk about 6km)
day 10: climbing of mount Kabuye. Plan for plenty of water as there is no store en route and the sun can be pretty hard. It took us 5hrs to go up and down. Superb! Be prepared to be followed by packs of local kids
Drive back to Kigali
day 11: explore Kigali: Nyabugogo, Nyamutarama, …
day 12 : farniente in Kigali and return flight.
I hope this helps!