Top Tips for Self-Driving in Rwanda

Experience the stunning scenery, distinctive hospitality and unique experiences in the land of a thousand hills. Rwanda is a country situated in Central Africa, bordered to the North by Uganda, to the East by Tanzania, to the South by Burundi and to the West by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A self-drive tour through the hilly and varied landscapes, combined with an awe-inspiring spectacle of wildlife, is an unbeatable experience. Travelers come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the magnificent gorillas, yet there is so much more to see and experience.

The main National Parks animal Reserves are Akagera, Volcanoes and Nyungwe Forest National Parks. In Rwanda the great animals of the wild are protected from poachers and roam free in the vast national parks.

The Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga volcanic mountains with its high-altitude forests is world famous for mountain gorillas – timid and passive family-oriented giants.

The park is teeming with wildlife both large and small, while Lake Kivu to the west offers beautiful beaches, jutting peninsulas and an archipelago of islands.

Whether camping with your vehicle in the midst of the Akagera National Park or staying in the luxury lodges of the Volcanoes National Park, be prepared to be simply amazed.

  1. Be prepared

Probably it is the number 1 top tip for self-driving in Rwanda. Self-drive tours are not for the faint – hearted. You are traveling on your own so need to be able to deal with wildlife encounters without a guide’s soothing profound.

  1. Use an experienced travel operator

An experienced travel operator will help you get as much information about your self-drive safari so there are no unnecessary and unpleasant surprises. They will be able to arrange most, if not everything well in advance for you such as booking gorilla and chimp permits, campsites, lodges, 4×4 vehicles, an itinerary and a whole host of local knowledge to help make your journey as smooth as possible, whatever you plans may be.

  1. Plan

Plan as far in advance as possible. Many camping sites have limited space and you want to spend as much time researching driving times and road conditions as well as any potential hazards as early as possible. A good travel consultant will be able to help you with this as long as you plan for your travel as possible.

  1. Know your route

You must know your route and let someone know where you are going. Carry an excess of everything from spare tires and wheels, to medication, water, food and clothes. It is incredible how vital things can go missing which have the potential of changing your whole trip. You could misplace something, forget to pack an item after an overnight stop… or a troop of baboons could also run away with it – cheeky monkeys.

  1.   Respect Country authorities

Unlike many other African countries, bribing and corruption isn’t found in Rwanda. If you are caught speeding then pay your fine. Respect in Rwanda goes a long way. Rwanda thrives on tourism and the Rwanda people are extremely friendly, however be patient and courteous and you will notice how far it goes and how helpful they are.

  1. Be prepared for last minute changes, break downs or getting stuck and avoid panicking when this happens.

Always be prepared to the correct equipment such as jacks, sand ladders and tow ropes and if all else fails then a satellite phone if there is no signal. All of which should be supplied by your self-drive 4×4 safari vehicle rental company.

  1. Do not panic if you do get stuck

Often this may lead to silly and potentially dangerous mistakes, such as leaving your vehicle to find help. If you stay with your vehicle, the chances are you have enough food and water to stay safe until someone finds you.

  1. Be a thoughtful, considerate and safe driver

Do not take your eyes off the road as tempting as it is. Do not off road in National Park, and try not off road anywhere as you may get stuck or damage flora and fauna. Following on from advice earlier, do not drive at night. This is one of the most important pieces of advice.

  1. Do not get out of your vehicle and approach animals on foot

Please stay in the vehicle and give them plenty of space to behave naturally.  Remember these are wildlife animals, so stay in your vehicles and stay safe.