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Rwanda - Getting there & away, getting around

Rwanda - Getting there & away

There are a number of regional carriers that service Kigali, including Kenya Airways (to/from Nairobi), SA Alliance Air (Johannesburg and Kampala), Air Burundi (Bujumbura) and Air Tanzania (Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar). All international flights arrive and depart from Gregorie Kayibanda International Airport, which is located about 10km (6mi) north of Kigali.

Fighting between the Tutsi-dominated government and Hutu rebels in Burundi has flared again recently, particularly in and around the capital Bujumbura, so travel between Burundi and Rwanda is highly unrecommended at the moment. Ditto overland travel west to Congo (Zaïre) - although the seven-year-old civil war now appears to be heading towards some kind of long-term resolution, travel to Congo (Zaïre) should remain postponed. Travellers will have more luck and more safety with the Tanzania border crossing and entry to Uganda.

Getting around Rwanda

The country's bus network comprises large numbers of modern minibuses, plus a few government vehicles, that roam over a well-maintained system of sealed main roads. The best time to get on the buses is from early morning to early afternoon, as after about 3pm they run less frequently and the fares go up substantially. Travelling by bus (or by any other mode of road transport for that matter) entails having to endure frequent military checkpoints, but these are usually straightforward affairs.

Hire-cars are almost as scarce as mountain gorillas or uncultivated land in Rwanda. To flush one out, you'll need to head to either Kigali or the northern town of Ruhengeri and check out local tourist offices and travel agencies; it should cost you on average around US$50 per day. Another thing you need to keep in mind if you're planning to drive around Rwanda is that the price of fuel suffered an exorbitant increase just over a year ago and is still expensive. Also, while the country's main roads are in pretty good condition, many side-roads are not, particularly during the wet season - and avoid driving at night unless you happen to have infra-red vision and the reflexes of Bruce Lee (when he was alive, of course).

Hitching is not a difficult prospect in Rwanda, thanks to the large numbers of nongovernment organisation (NGO) vehicles that regularly track around the country. The extra good news is that you're unlikely to be asked for money for the ride, usually just conversation.

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