Get a Passport
If you haven’t travelled internationally, get started on your passport right away. Don’t let this be an excuse for you not to visit Africa. Getting a passport is the easiest part of preparation, so do it first thing, as your step of faith towards your journey. Download a passport application at www.usps.com, and visit your local post office with the requested documentation. Allow at least two months to receive your passport.
Learn about Rwandan Hotels and Transportation
The website www.tripadvisor.com has good reviews on most of the major hotels in Rwanda. Also, the US Embassy website shows a long list of available accommodations. http://rwanda.usembassy.gov/accomodation_in_rwanda.html
However, if you're looking for something less expensive than a hotel, or to host a group, consider staying in a guest house. Charitable organizations often operate guest houses to more affordably host their own visitors to Rwanda, but also make their houses available to other groups in order to fill unused capacity. Guest houses are fun because the environment is more home-like, and you can meet fascinating groups from around the world and learn about their mission in Rwanda. Africa New Life operates two guest houses in Kigali that provide housing and meals for much less cost than area hotels. Click here to download a brochure for the ANLM Guest Houses including their contact information.
Taxis in Rwanda are plentiful because fewer people own cars than in the west, so don't worry about finding yourself stranded during the daytime. Taxis don't typically run throughout the night however. Ask the driver, "what is the taxi fare?" (Nangahe kujya kuri...) before traveling to your destination, to get better accountability from the taxi driver. Here is a link to Kigali City's official page on public transportation and taxi services: http://www.kigalicity.gov.rw/spip.php?article93
Group Transportation: In addition to the Kigali City's public transport link, you may also contact Africa New Life's transportation manager, Steven Matsiko, who can arrange private vans and cars to host mission groups. There are other NGOs that provide transport services, but this is the one I have worked with for more than ten years and I know Steven, their transportation manager very well. Steven has provided group transportation to many other organizations and visitors. Contact the ANLM Guest House (link above) to arrange for group transportation.
Personal Drivers: Here are two very good friends of mine who can serve as personal drivers with their own cars during your whole trip, or call on them any time you need help with transport. Keep these numbers on hand in case you get stranded. These friends are very courteous and resourceful.
- Robert: Mobile 011 250 788453904 Email: email@example.com. Robert is a college student who is becoming a quite resourceful businessman. I've him known since 2002. He was one of the members of a music group we brought on tour in the US. and has visited the US three times. He speaks great English!
- Tanaz: is a full time driver that we've known since 2004 when he served as our driver through our adoption process. Since then, we've called on him to drive us almost every time we visit Rwanda. Tanaz is exceedingly resourceful and professional. He drives many visitors from the U.S. and is also a great teacher of Kinyarwanda! Tanaz' Mobile 011 250 0788483376
Read up on Rwanda!
Here is our short recommended reading/watching list. Of course, there is so much more, but this will get you started. Many of these resoures are on our Amazon store.
Practice Kinyarwanda Greetings and Travel Phrases
Learn Kinyarwanda travel phrases at www.speakrwanda.com
Take every opportunity to hear, speak, read and write Kinyarwanda. Listen to the audio tapes. Repeat the phrases. Speak your new words to your Rwandan friends (and they will teach you a new reply).
Read the pdf materials, and write answers to questions. Find Kinyarwanda websites and see if you can read a single Kinyarwanda word. Write your new words in emails or texts to your Rwandan friends.
When you learn a new phrase, write it down in a little notebook, or in the notes feature of your cell phone. Listen to Kinyarwanda songs!!
Find every opportunity to exercise your new phrases in all forms of communication!
Prepare a Budget
Depending on your type of trip, missons, educational, or pleasure your options for lodging can be varied.
We have led more than 200 people to Rwanda to visit their sponsored children and the work of Africa New Life Ministries. Most people who have gone with us, raise financial support from friends and family because the cost of airfare alone can be substantial. At the outset of planning a trip, we present a tentative budget for the cost per person, and then we refine that budget as we make plans. Here is a sample budget from one of our group trips to Rwanda. Click here to download the excel file that you can modify for your own trip.
Prepare a Packing List
A little planning now will make all the difference. Our packing lists are based on trips that include modest guest house accommodations. Of course, if you are staying in a 4 star hotel, or if you are camping in the bush, there will be different packing considerations. In general, we suggest that you pack light! Most people make the mistake of over-packing. Click here to see our sample packing list.
Get Appropriate Immunizations
Visit your county health department or local travel clinic at least 2 months before travel. Some immunizations must be administered in a series, with appropriate time in between. The US Center for Disease Control posts recommended immunizations for Rwanda, and provides news updates about any health concerns for the country. http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationRwanda.aspx
Study Cross-cultural Dynamics
The greatest challenge we have experienced in our many visits to Rwanda, and in working with our Rwandan friends, is navigating relationships across cultures. Visitors to Africa often underestimate the difference in styles of communication, ways of handling money, and expectations in friendships. Those who approach cross cultural relationships with little awareness of the differences, and unprepared to bridge those differences; will more likely experience conflict or disappointment. The best advice we can give, is to read the book, African Friends and Money Matters by David Moranz. The second best advice is to talk to people who have years of experience living in the country, or working in cross-cultural partnerships.
Study Rwandan History
Click here for an overview of Rwanda.
Connect with Organizations that Host Trips
We are aware of the following organizations have significant assistance projects in Rwanda. These organizations host trips for their donors or those who helping with their outreaches in Rwanda.