Rwanda is visa-free for all African citizens

Here is another momentous announcement out of Rwanda; all African citizens visiting Rwanda no longer require a visa. In other words, Rwanda is visa free for all Africans. The announcement was made by President of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagame on Thursday, 2nd November 2023 at the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Summit held in Kigali. This effectively opens up Rwanda to all of Africa, from Nigeria to Egypt to South Africa, all citizens will not need to pay for a visa to enter Rwanda. Previously only citizens in the East Africa community to which Rwanda belongs were exempted from visa payment.

This is another landmark announcement after recently Rwanda opened up for all travelers from the whole world to be able to acquire visas on arrival. Now, with this new announcement it even gets better for African citizens as they do not need to pay for visas at all. As an African citizen you just have to pack your bags, check the next flight to Rwanda and off to Rwanda, and arriving into one of the cleanest cities on the continent.

With the doors now wide open for African citizens, here is an opportunity for you as an African to experience the “land of thousands hills”.

As an African citizen, what do you know or have you heard about Rwanda? It is the clean streets, her beautiful ladies, the gorillas, the rolling landscape and volcanic mountains or her dark past of the genocide?

What interesting things can Africans do in Rwanda?

Here are some of the interesting things you can do as an African

City tour – experience an utopia in Africa

I have to say Kigali City is a must visit for any African, if not for anything but just to see that modern, clean and safe cities can be built by Africans. At least this may restore hope in you and make you feel good as an African because African cities are synonymous with dirt, crime, slums, bad infrastructure and all that.

Kigali City also has plenty of things to do and see, from wildlife reserves such as Umusambi Villaage Wildlife Reserve, historical places such as the museums about the genocide and history of Rwanda, car-free zones with free internet, amazing art galleries & crafts shops, nice building such as the iconic convention center, amazing nightlife with no worry about your safety anywhere, vibrant suburbs such as Nyamirambo, etc…

Visit Gorillas on special African rates

When it comes to wildlife, Rwanda is known for the gorillas and the gorilla trekking adventure, however the gorilla trek is also known as a very expensive activity that is largely left to the international travelers who can afford. Indeed the gorilla trek is quite pricy with international travelers having to pay $1500 for a gorilla tracking ticket/permit. However, at the moment Rwanda has given Africans a special discounted price of $500. So, visit Rwanda and enjoy the once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Silverback gorilla in the mountains.

Take a safari trip to Akagera National Park

Rwanda is perhaps not popular as a safari country but the country’s only savannah region protected in the Akagera National Park is fast developing into a credible big game destination having all the big five (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo) and plenty of other wildlife. This in addition to amazing scenery with diverse habitats and landscapes of large wetlands and lakes, savannah, grassy hills and forests, create an amazing safari experience with more than just animals.

The park is also just 2.5 hours’ drive from Kigali City making it so accessible that you can do a day trip and have a chance to see all the big five.

How about a beautiful getaway to Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s biggest lake located along the western border with the Congo, is an excellent place for a getaway and spend relaxation time in resort along the beautiful lake shore from where you can take a boat ride and enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the shore and across the lake visiting the islands. There are also exciting water adventures you can do in Lake Kivu such as paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, etc…

Here are ideas on short trips you can do in Rwanda

Is Uganda safe after the (ADF) attack on tourists?

On 17th October gunmen believed to be of the rebel outfit the ADF – Allied Democratic Forces (a designated terrorist organization with links to ISIS)  killed two tourists and their tour drive while on safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. This tragic incidence sent shockwaves through the tourism industry and the country’s leadership. Never before has the ADF had the motivation to attack foreigners, let alone tourists. This has impacted the tourism industry immensely as tour operators are reporting booking cancellations by tourists who had planned trips to Uganda.

How and why the ADF managed to attack the tourists in Queen Elizabeth National Park?

The country’s security infrastructure was caught off-guard by this incidence, as perhaps it was never imagined the ADF would have such motivation to target tourists or foreigners.  But, this has been explained by the head of state, stating that the attack on tourists in Uganda by the ADF was a desperate act by the group facing defeat. The government of Uganda launched a campaign into Congo to wipe out the ADF where it has been basing to carry out the attacks in Uganda. And as such, the group has been dealt a huge blow by the campaign, having its fighters killed and bases annihilated within the Congo degrading it heavily and sending the remnants of its forces into disarray. The disintegrated group had some of its remnants sneak back into Uganda and it is from these about 5 terrorists killed tourists in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Why the group managed to sneak into the park? It is because the park is shared along the border with Congo, and so it is the easiest place they could have managed to sneak in, attack and probably sneak quickly back into Congo.

How safe is Uganda after the attack and should I cancel the trip?

After the surprise attack the Ugandan government has massively increased deployment in and near Queen Elizabeth National Park as the army and other security agencies continue to comb the area of any insurgencies.

Security measures have also been upped in other national parks and tourism destinations such as Bwindi National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, etc… However the likelihood of the rebels repeating such an attack in another park is very slim to impossible because they would not have an easy escape back into Congo before they are netted. Other parks are also not close to the conflict zone like Queen Elizabeth National Park that is extends into both countries.

Should you cancel your trip in Uganda? Definitely you should not. Uganda is stable and safe, the attack on tourists can be treated as a one off and has motivated the government even further to increase surveillance in the parks and to also commit to wipe out the ADF in Congo or degrade it to the point it can no longer pose any threat in future.

Should I exclude Queen Elizabeth National Park from my Ugandan tour?

At the moment, perhaps there is no safer place in Uganda than Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park has been combed of any possible threats from the ADF, and more security personnel have been deployed in the park especially the border regions. Also new safety measures have been put in place as the security agencies eliminate the threat of the rebels. For example, all game drives in are escorted by an armed security personnel, and game drives are done between 7am and 5.30pm.

However, if you think you will feel tense and won’t enjoy the safari in Queen Elizabeth Park then you can exclude the park which is often combined with a gorilla trek in Bwindi forest or chimpanzee trekking Kibale forest. You can instead visit Lake Mburo National Park on your way to the gorillas or chimpanzees.