The ultimate solo travel guide to Rwanda: Everything you need to know

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If Rwanda is not on your solo travel radar, it should be. With a vibrant capital, truly singular wildlife experiences and no fewer than four National Parks encompassing volcanic mountains, ancient rainforest, sweeping plains and lakeside beaches, the country is ripe for exploration.

While the pure delight of observing families of mountain gorillas chilling out just a few metres away will always be the headline experience in Rwanda, there’s a wealth of beautiful biodiversity, culture and charm within this African gem.

Many choose to soak up the wonders of the natural world with a hike through bamboo forests to hidden waterfalls or a safari through the low-lying plains of Akagera. Navigating Nyungwe’s exhilarating canopy walkway, suspended in the treetops alongside playful chimpanzees and brightly coloured exotic birds, is a highlight – as are the sandy beaches and lush montane scenery of Lake Kivu.

Meanwhile, city life and cultural spots abound in the capital Kigali, boasting museums, art galleries, festivals and shopping, while there’s also ample opportunity to taste a more traditional way of life, with craft workshops in friendly rural villages, coffee plantation visits and trying your hand at brewing banana beer, a Rwandan favourite, in the Virunga mountains. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about solo travel escapes in The Land of a Thousand Hills, from where to stay to highlights from Flash Pack’s Rwanda trip.

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Rwanda travel facts

Small in size but big on epic landscapes, high-altitude Rwanda has four stunning National Parks to explore. This fascinating country has mountains and volcanoes in abundance, but also scenic lakes, glorious rainforest, rich wetlands and sweeping plains. The resident wildlife rightfully takes centrestage, with majestic mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and the Big Five roaming the savannahs of Akagera. Gishwati Mukura National Park, with its golden monkeys, is a designated Unesco Biosphere Reserve, while a 70m-high treetop walkway and newly discovered, dreamlike waterfalls await in Nyungwe: a Unesco World Heritage Site. The capital Kigali bursts with city life, and – landlocked though Rwanda is – there’s even a beach resort by way of Lake Kivu.

Is Rwanda good for solo travel?

It’s easy to see why nature-loving solo travellers choose Rwanda; there’s thrilling wildlife at every turn, from watching elephants, lions and leopards on safari, to glimpsing endangered mountain gorillas and playful golden monkeys on guided rainforest treks. Unique biodiversity aside, everyone is catching on that there’s plenty more to this equatorial country, with intriguing architecture, a thriving art scene, delicious local coffee and a lively capital city, Kigali, for starters. And with a Flash Pack group solo trip, it’s tons easier to seek out the lesser-known highlights, such as dreamy sundowner cocktails on a houseboat drifting over Lake Kivu, learning traditional crafts in a rural village, and paddling round uninhabited islands.

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Best places to visit in Rwanda

What are the must-sees on a solo trip to Rwanda? At Flash Pack, we’ve expertly crafted a Rwanda getaway that includes both the big names and under-the-radar experiences. Trek one of Africa’s oldest rainforests soundtracked by the rattling calls of colobus monkey troops, wander through treetops on a 160m-long suspended walkway and kayak Lake Kivu before chilling with a cocktail on its lush, tranquil waters. Not forgetting hiking to the newly discovered Ndambarare waterfall, lunching with friendly locals, and brewing banana beer in the Virunga mountains. Round off your trip with the unmissable: observing families of mountain gorillas up close on their home turf. You’ll need a much-in-demand tracking permit – something Flash Pack has sorted. Then head to Kigali to for vibrant culture and a visit to the poignant and important Genocide Memorial.

Where to stay as a solo traveller in Rwanda

What are the hotels like in Rwanda? Solo travellers have plenty of accommodation options making the most of Rwanda’s breathtaking landscapes, wildlife havens and rich culture. You’ll find boutique hotels in Kigali and luxury eco abodes in national parks: think city stays complete with wellness spa and saltwater pool, upscale hilltop resorts overlooking Lake Kivu and eco-lodge bungalows close to Volcanoes National Park, set in their own exotic gardens with – as you’ll come to expect from Rwanda – incredible views. Flash Pack takes everything off your planning plate, while room-sharing with fellow solo travellers means top-class overnighters that skip the single supplement (although upgrading to your own room is always an option).

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How to get to Rwanda

International and regional flights to Rwanda come into Kigali International Airport (KGL). All travellers to Rwanda need a visa, which can be arranged on arrival at the airport. Visas are free for citizens of La Francophonie (an organisation of French-speaking countries), the Commonwealth and African Union. For all other nationalities, visas on arrival cost 50 USD. Travelling with Flash Pack, you’ll be met at the airport with your transfer sorted in advance. 

How to get around in Rwanda

Rwanda has no rail service, but a recently upgraded road network links the main areas, so going by car or minibus is the most convenient way to get around – bear in mind that in Kigali and some other cities, there are two car-free days a month, so plan ahead. Secondary roads may not be in good condition, especially during rainy season, and at night many routes are unlit. In larger cities and towns, there are buses, taxi cabs and motorbike taxis, and in Kigali there’s a bike-sharing scheme. With Flash Pack, all your internal travel is already sorted and included – think air-conditioned minibuses and even a speedboat or two.

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Best time to visit Rwanda

Rwanda has a tropical highland climate, with two rainy seasons (mid-February to May, and mid-September to mid-December) and the longer dry season running from June to mid-September. Temperature varies with altitude, so the mountainous parks tend to be cooler; peak daytime temperatures rarely exceed 30°C (86°F), averaging 21°C in Kigali (70°F). While gorilla tracking is a year-round highlight, many prefer the dry season to minimise the chances of rain during the trek. Keep an eye out for the annual Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony in September, with various festivities leading up to it, while in July the Rwanda Film Festival brings plenty of visitors to Kigali for screenings, workshops and pop-up cinemas outside the capital.

Rwanda travel itineraries

With Flash Pack, your unforgettable nine-day Rwanda trip starts with rural village life and ends with the immense privilege of tracking and observing endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, all among the lush scenery and incredible wildlife of Rwanda. You’ll be kayaking beautiful Lake Kivu, savouring cocktails as you sail at sundown, trekking forests to find dreamlike waterfalls and golden monkeys, and even brewing Rwanda’s traditional banana beer, before heading back to the capital Kigali to digest your experiences in The Land of a Thousand Hills with your small group of fellow wanderers.

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What to pack for solo travel in Rwanda

Pack your passport, insurance details, insect repellent, an adaptor for C and J plugs, and reusable bags: plastic bags are banned in Rwanda and will be confiscated at the airport. Bring Rwandan Francs (Rwf), although US dollars are also accepted for larger amounts, and expect to pay cash for most services. Focus on light clothes and sun protection for warmer weather, and layers for cooler evenings and mountainous regions, with a lightweight waterproof jacket. In Akagera, bear in mind tsetse flies are attracted to bright colours (blue in particular) and black. For trekking, you’ll need heavier clothing and sturdy shoes, so consider gardening gloves and gaiters to ward against stinging nettles.

Solo travel advice for Rwanda

If expert-led rainforest treks, beachy lakeside chill, island kayaking and close encounters with magnificent, rare wildlife floats your boat, then Rwanda is your solo travel dream. Exploring it with Flash Pack means you’ve got local knowledge at your fingertips and no travel worries – we’ve got it all covered. Spot colobus monkeys while walking a treetop suspension bridge; practise traditional crafts with friendly villagers; visit volcanoes, and hike to a newly discovered, picture-perfect waterfall. Cap it off with a close encounter with endangered mountain gorillas and a dose of city culture in capital Kigali, all with the fun and support of a solo group trip.

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Is it safe to travel solo in Rwanda?

Despite its turbulent past, Rwanda is now one of the safest countries in Africa with low crime rates. However, we recommend taking the usual sensible precautions, such as not leaving valuables lying around, taking care when walking at night, and sticking to guided tours and excursions. Present security issues at the borders have not affected tourist areas, however, always check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), the Department of State Travel Advisories (US) or your country’s local government guidelines for the most up-to-date advice before travelling. Follow local advice and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Ready for your next adventure? Try group solo travel to Rwanda with Flash Pack – designed exclusively for people in their 30s and 40s, seeking the independence of solo travel within the safety of a group.

A cool 98% of Flashpackers arrive solo to join our group adventures. So, you’ll be in good company – whether a first-time solo traveller or a seasoned pro looking for like-minded new friends.

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