Help planning my Rwanda trip
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Mar 28, 2013 9:40 AM Last Post By: Fulana
Mar 12, 2013 2:50 PM
Help planning my Rwanda tripI have the opportunity to visit Rwanda for about 1 week. After flying into Kigali, I would like to visit Volcans National Park (for Gorilla trekking), Nyungwe National Forest, and Akagera National Park. In addition, I was hoping to add 2-3 days travel to Bujumbura, Burundi. From Bujumbura, it's possible to fly back to Kigali to catch my flight out of Africa.
1. As I am new to backpacking in Africa. Is this manageable to do on public transport? I read on another post that to go to Volcans N.P., public transport is hard to come by.
2. Should I arrange the gorilla permit in advance or the day I get to Kigali? Any recommended companies to help arrange it in advance?
3. Can I get my Burundi transit visa (the 3 day one) at the border between Rwanda-Burundi when traveling overland?
4. Any recommended day trips from Bujumbura?
Mar 13, 2013 5:36 AM
1You are far too optimistic and you are trying to do far too much in the time. Suggest you get the Bradt Guide (2012) for Rwanda.
Both Akagera and Nyungwe National Forest are not so easy using public transport. Getting to the Volcanoes NP by public transport is easy (from Kigali/Gisenyi)
You will need to book gorilla permit in advance as you will be very lucky to get one at short notice. I think you can book direct but a reliable company based in Muzanse is Amorhoro Travel (ask for Greg)
3 day transit visas are available at border
Plenty of flights between Bujumbura and Kigali but check with your airline as many such as Kenya Airways do a loop with their flights calling at both
Mar 13, 2013 9:12 AM
2There used to be good, precise info on this branch about getting to Parc National des Volcans by public transport (and by motorcycle for the last bit). I don't know whether there still is.
Yes, get your permit in advance. While there's always the chance you can just show up and get it, why play with such a major experience?
I agree you are trying to do too much.
Mar 14, 2013 4:56 AM
Mar 14, 2013 11:53 AM
4I took public transport to PNV (Or VNP in English - sorry I've spent most of my day speaking French) from Kigali last August. Here's what I did:
- In Kigali, I bought a ticket to Musanze (on Virunga Express, under $5.00 USD, about 2 hours)
- In Musanze I bought a ticket to Kinigi (on Virunga Express, maybe $1.00 USD, 20 minutes)
- From the bus station in Kinigi, moto-taxi to the lodge I was staying at. (700 RWF, I think)
I didn't have much luggage - only a daypack with a change of clothes, so it was easy enough for me to take a moto-taxi (and cheaper than a regular taxi). Changing buses in Musanze is easy - but I did have to buy another ticket to Kinigi.
There is a guesthouse (Kinigi Guesthouse, I think it is) that is fairly close to the Park headquarters, if you stay there you may be able to catch a ride with someone else in your group to the trekking trailhead (the Park headquarters are merely where you get your instructions. From there, you still need to get to the trailhead.) Most people I saw had plenty of room for other people in their hired cars - provided you're willing to split the cost with them, I'm sure someone would let you ride with them to the trailhead.
My trek was in August - I bought my ticket in April, and even then they said that they had very few permits left (I think there were 6 days that had permits available, the rest of the days were already taken)
Mar 28, 2013 7:57 AM
5Public transportation in the more dense areas is very easy and straight forward. To get to Nuygwe I believe can be done, but would be very difficult. And Akagera would be near impossible. It is possible to hire a car/driver for a day to chauffeur you to these places, however that can also be difficult to arrange due to language barriers. Your best bet might be to go on a trip with an agency.
As I Canadian, I have never had trouble buying a three day visa at the border to Burundi. There aren't really any day trips from Bujumbura, however the city itself is worth visiting. You can stay at a very reasonable priced resort on the beach in an area called Saga Plage. Taxi transportation from the bus station to the resort is cheap and fair, however it can be difficult to find an empty taxi back into town. Typically, in Burundi I have never felt the need to bargain for taxi fairs, however in Rwanda it is necessary, except on busses. (Mini-busses will still sometimes try to overcharge an unsuspecting visitor, but the amount is minimal. Often, other passengers on the bus will say something if this happens.)
I know when flying to Rwanda, my plane (from Addis) transferred onto Bujumbura, so it should be possible to arrange a flight back. Also, if you get the chance in Rwanda, I would suggest visiting Lake Kivu. Keep in mind, things happen very slowly in those countries, so while you can make a trip with a very tight schedule, there is a realistic chance of delays. Better to schedule much more time than you need, as to not become impatient when delays do occur.
Mar 28, 2013 9:40 AM
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