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7 Reasons to Travel to Rwanda in 2021: Travel Tips and News

Traveling during the time of Covid may be challenging, but it can also be extraordinary. Having just returned from a three-week trip to Rwanda, leading two of our Insider Journey trips, I am happy to report that the country—which was early to lockdown last March—continues to maintain strict Covid protocols and has seen very few cases as a result. It is truly an incredible place, for its wildlife, its history, its emerging artists and its resilience. In Rwanda, the concept of ubumuntu—which means to be human, to be humane, to recognize the humanity of others—was adopted during the reconciliation to help the country heal; it is ever-present and seems to be guiding the country through this unprecedented time of Covid, too. Here’s why you should travel to Rwanda in 2021.

Contact us to learn more about our upcoming Insider Journeys to Kenya or Rwanda or receive an itinerary and talk with one of our travel specialists about these trips, new COVID-19 policies or future trip-planning advice.

1. The country has one of the lowest Covid risks in the world and has been pioneering safe international travel during the pandemic. Rwanda is on the CDC’s list of low-risk Covid countries, one of less than 50 that includes places like Australia, Bermuda, the Isle of Man, Greenland and New Zealand. It reopened its borders to foreign travelers on August 1, so long as they produce a negative PCR Covid test on arrival and are quarantined in their hotel until they receive another negative Covid test, usually within less than 20 hours. Negative tests (done by throat swab, not nasal) are also required to visit the gorillas and before departure. An on-arrival rapid testing center is expected to be unveiled at the airport soon, possibly making Rwanda the first country in Africa to offer what could become standard protocol.

2. Seeing the endangered mountain gorillas, one of the most extraordinary wildlife encounters possible, has never been more intimate. As gorillas share 98 percent of our DNA, they are susceptible to human-borne viruses, and respiratory infections can be fatal to them. To protect them from Covid, the government mandates negative Covid tests for all gorilla visitors, has increased the distance between visitors and gorillas from 7 meters to 10 and has reduced the visiting groups from 8 to 6 people. Bottom line: In smaller groups, you have better viewing. My recent visits were even more amazing than ever before, maybe because the gorillas, too, have been missing social interaction.

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3. The impact of your travel dollars are critical to maintain conservation and community empowerment. The population of endangered mountain gorillas has increased from 786 in 2010 to slightly more than 1,000, in large part because of Rwanda’s commitment to their conservation. A percentage of gorilla permit fees supports conservation, including tracker and ranger salaries, and a percentage contributes to health and education initiatives for the local community. Many former poachers are now trackers or porters who have come to recognize the gorillas as an incredible local asset. Not only do hotel taxes contribute to community funds, but hotels are almost entirely staffed by locals, so every traveler impacts the local economy.

4. You can experience one of the world’s greatest safari secrets before it is out. After years of neglect and wildlife eradication, Akagera National Park, on Rwanda’s eastern border with Tanzania, was taken over by African Parks in 2015, and its transformation is astonishing. As someone who has been lucky to go on safari many times in legendary parks and concessions all over eastern and southern Africa, I had low expectations before my recent visit, but the game viewing was fantastic and the landscape compares with such stunners as the Serengeti and Okavango Delta. Plus, at the moment there is only one private concession in the park with just six tents, so when you stay at Magashi Camp, you feel as if the park is yours alone.

5. You will feel safe from Covid on the ground. Rwanda has managed to keep its Covid rates low with an early lockdown, rigorous testing and contact tracing and universal compliance of mask-wearing, including by all lodge staff. Temperature checks are frequent and hand-sanitizing stations plentiful. As one of our travelers said, “The country was extremely organized in its approach to Covid, making one feel very safe.

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6. As survivors of one of the 20th century’s worst genocides, Rwandans represent incredible resilience and fortitude.Rwanda as a country gives me hope for the world and humanity,” declared one of our travelers.“It is the most incredible place, where its population trusts its government to keep their interests close to their heart and provide a future filled with hope and prosperity for every member of the population.”

7. Most bucket list trips take enormous advance planning, but we’ve secured the best camps and guides—and special pricing—so you can sign up last-minute and get the trip of a lifetime at a unique moment.People who like to travel and people and communities who depend on travel need hope and lifelines to continue to lead fulfilling lives,” reflected another traveler. What are you waiting for?

Contact us to learn more about our upcoming Insider Journeys to Kenya or Rwanda or receive an itinerary and talk with one of our travel specialists about these trips, new COVID-19 policies or future trip-planning advice.

To learn more about Rwanda, listen to episode 22 of the Indagare Global Conversations with Melissa Biggs Bradley. She talks with Rwanda activists Josh and Alissa Ruxin about the country’s complicated history, the power of resilience and the best way to experience Kigali. 

– Melissa Biggs Bradley on December 4, 2020

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'Rwanda as a country gives me hope for the world and humanity,' declared one of our travelers.

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