Roads & tourism
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Oct 16, 2012 3:57 AM Last Post By: Dominique1988
Oct 13, 2012 12:32 PM
Roads & tourismQuestion for those in the know regarding Rwanda as I'm doing a bit of research; any help appreciated!
1. How bad are the roads in Rwanda? if anyone could compare them to a W.African country or Kenya/TNZ, that would help me greatly!
2. Does anyone know if the Chinese are in there like elsewhere & constructing new roads?
3. I'm being slightly (very) lazy (for a change!) - how far are the main 'attractions' - people seem to go for a) gorillas and b) volcanoes c) history/genocide etc - am I missing something?
4. Would you tie a trip to Rwanda with neighbouring countries?
5. I feel that Rwanda isn't completely a backpackers spot; I've read it's not cheap ... how much tourism is there at the high end of the scale?
Thanks in advance
Oct 13, 2012 1:34 PM
1) Main routes are generally good to excellent tar road surfaces, well mantained, no pot holes, proper drainage. Compared to rest of southern/eastern Africa only RSA were better. But progress is fairly slow because terrain is very hilly. Some rougher dirt roads but as distances are small it is usually possible to take a longer but quicker tar road.
2) Didn't notice any obvious Chinese presence.
3) Gorillas and genocide memorials probably main draws by some distance. Other attractions include Lake Kivu, Nyungwe and Akagera National Parks.
4) Yes because it's pretty small and main attractions are only likely to take up a couple of days each.
5) It is relatively expensive - especially Kigali. Much accommodation is comparable to european prices. Very limited camping/backpacker options countrywide. Fuel is expensive, as is food.
Oct 14, 2012 3:09 AM
2Great roads, especially if you are used to Kenyan potholes (though I have to admit the Chinese have done quite a bit in the past few years), at least as far as Kigali and the main roads across the country are concerned. Of course, once you travel in rural areas away from the major roads, there is no tarmac, but then, the number of cars using these roads goes down rapidly anyway.
There are Chinese investors busy as elsewhere in Africa as Rwanda is seen as investor´s heaven (efficient, little corruption and a good deal of stability), but you can´t see them as massively in road constructions as in Kenya or Ethiopia - president Kagame charged the road problem befgore they made their big construction entry into Africa.
As far as attractions and budget go, one of the main things that draws international tourists are the gorillas and that is extremely expensive, especially after the 50 % rise for permits. The genocide museum in Rwanda is touching and modern, there are many other memorial sites all over the country. Gisenyi/Lake Kivu is a nice place to chill out for a few days.
Because of Rwanda´s small size it´s a good idea to combine a trip there with other countries - Burundi jumps to mind, and there are a number or budget places as well as nice restaurants in Bujumbura, also nice spots along Lake Tanganjika. Tourism is only starting there now after the civil war, and as they don´t have chimps or gorillas or big wildlife parks, it is starting slowly. But try to go to a place where they play those big Burundian drums - that rhythm is quite an experience. And of course Uganda is another option to include when you are in Rwanda. Otherwise - I think you live in West Africa? - because of the lack of direct flights there is always the chance to stayen route in Kenya or Ethiopia for a few days.
Oct 14, 2012 4:54 PM
I agree with the above posters. To qualify my comments, we drove from Kigali to Ruhengeri and onto Gisenyi and back to Kigali. The roads were good - tarmac - but it wasn't quick traveling due to other vehicles, congestion and altitudes. The drives were beautiful so the pace was fine.
I was with a group of zookeepers so our interests in Rwanda did focus on the primates. We spent only a week and spent time in Kigali, tracked the gorillas twice, golden monkeys once and then spent a day or two resting in Gisenyi on Lake Kivu. The Paradise Malehide was perfect - lovely setting and great garden. The birding in the garden was something we hadn't expected and a fun discovery. You could have sundowners and watch the fisherfolk head out for a night's work with their wide catamarans and then when you have breakfast the next morning, you see them returning.
There are other parks to visit with interesting hikes and such but we didn't have time to do that. This was an extension to our main trip which was in Kenya. You could easily combine Rwanda with another east African county.....Uganda would be easy by land or air. You've been to Uganda before, right? If not, GO. I could not spout enough good things about Uganda. Or Rwanda for that matter......
We made our arrangements with Greg at Amahoro Tours. We used a driver/guide and he sorted our lodging and gorilla permits. He even joined us for dinner one night in Ruhengeri - nice guy! You need transportation for the gorilla hiking as the park hq is a out of town and you need to get yourself to the starting point of your hike too. Your driver will wait for you there until you finish your hike.
I hope you get there one day......I really like Rwanda very much. Hope to return too.
Oct 14, 2012 11:58 PM
We returned from Rwanda a few days ago, we did an (unfortunately) very short individual trip.
(1) For the streets everything had been said above, Main roads are in very good conditions. If you want to make a short trip you can take a Motorbike-taxi.
(2) I didn´t see any chinese workers, more in Uganda.
(3) Ruhengeri (Volcanoes NP) / Gisenyi (Lake Kivu) / Nyugwe (Chimps) / Akagera NP (Safari) / Butare (Genocide Memorial) / Kigali are the well known spots. Try to visit some villages around Lake Burera/Lake Ruhonda (near Ruhengeri). Or Kibuye at Lake Kivu, whats about hiking along the "Congo-Nile-Trail" a few days?
There are running a lot of Busses, Coaches and Minibusses. Individual-travelling by bus in Rwanda is easy, very cheap and (more or less) on time. A private taxi is not cheap, ~100$ per day + fuel costs.
(4) (Southern-)Uganda would be the normal option. The Volcanoes NP in North-Kivu (Congo) too, but it is closed at this time. Visit the Lowland-Gorillas in South-Kivu via Bukavu (Congo) is possible (with Guide). Lake Tanganyika in Burundi with Kibira NP and Rusizi NP is new as a travel destination. My informations in Rwanda are that it is no problem to go to Burundi and travel around.
(5) My impression: There are enough places for backpackers in Rwanda if you want to make a budget trip. Everything is possible, from shoestring to High Range.
We stayed in Ruhengeri in the Sainte Anne Hotel, it is Midrange. The price for the dbl was 35.000RWF, which is about 55$. BF and WiFi included. Nice Rooms, nice people, ugly homepage...
Not far away is the lovely La Paillotte Cafe/Restaurant (with excellent bakery!). You can have lunch or dinner, i.e. Pizza for ~4-5$, a big bottle of beer (Primus, 0.75 Liter) for 1,50$, very good coffee (Latte, Espresso, Cappuccino, etc.) for ~2$.
Taxi is ca. 1$ per km, Motorbike 0,50$.
Oct 16, 2012 3:57 AM
Rwanda is such a great country, I am very jealous of your trip, I would go back in an instant!
1) I have never been to West Africa, but the roads in Rwanda are great! We caught the minibuses everywhere and were amazed by them, especially as we had just come from Tanzania. The minibuses in Rwanda are fast, efficient and punctual! Rwanda is called the Switzerland of Africa and that's not just for the hills.. :)
2) Yes, the Chinese are in Rwanda - not sure what you meant by that comment?
3) Rwanda is very small and as I said, the minibuses / roads are very good, so getting around and seeing the major attractions is not difficult. I would recommend Kibuye (on lake Kivu) and make sure you stay in Home St Jean! :)
4) We came to Rwanda from Tanzania and went to Uganda from there, which went really well. Uganda requires a lot of patience if you're catching public transport but it's very nice! If you have been to Africa before, I would recommend the south-east of Uganda - similar (beautiful!) countryside to Rwanda. If you haven't been to Africa, I'd probably go to Tanzania to check out the Africa you think of (at least I did): desert and animals.
5) We found Rwanda pretty expensive - one of the reasons we didn't stay as long as we'd wanted to. Try to find self-serve restaurants, where you can have a huge plate of food for about $2 a plate. We also found that when we asked people for cheap recommendations, they pointed us towards the most expensive places; we thought that might have been because they thought we had more money than we did. And finally, the minibuses are totally worth the money. :)
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