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Tips for Driving in Rwanda: What You Need to Know


Embarking on a road trip in Rwanda? Arm yourself with essential tips for driving in Rwanda. From navigating city traffic to traversing scenic routes, our guide provides valuable insights to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. After the inhuman tragedy that saw nearly one million Rwandans gruesomely killed and about two million displaced nearly 30 years ago, you would hardly know walking down the streets of Kigali that such a horror occurred in this East African nation’s recent past. Today, Rwanda is totally different in contrast to its past history. The country is well organized, safe, and clean—in fact, it beats out most large cities around the world on the safety and cleanliness scales.

Rwanda is indeed one of the safest countries in Africa to visit and shows its support for the environment through conservation measures such as banning plastic bags, a rare case for most African countries or the rest of the world. Rwanda has over the years built a strong infrastructure system recognized worldwide as compared to many of its neighbors. A case in point are the paved roads throughout the capital and even some larger paved roads running across the country, as well as theaters for international conferences such as the Kigali Convention Center. These infrastructures are partly what make Rwanda an excellent country to explore and have attracted global attention for Rwanda.

On your first visit to Rwanda, there are quite a lot of things that you might be interested in knowing, one of which is how you are going to move between destinations, especially for first-time roadside travelers or self-drivers. Visiting a new destination comes with some excitement and expectation, yet it is also kind of frustrating. Therefore, it is important to avoid turning your experience into a nightmare by adequately preparing for any successful Rwanda road trip or adventure.

Before setting out on your safari or road trip in a rental car in Rwanda, learning some relevant driving techniques and rules (tips for driving in Rwanda) will help you have the freedom to explore Rwanda on your own time and be safe on the road. Below is a practical guide that will help you have a smooth and convenient road trip while driving in Rwanda.

  1. Plan your route beforehand.

As Rwanda has a lot to offer, you will need to tick most of them off your list, which can sometimes be overwhelming. However, to have a successful road trip or adventure in Rwanda, you will need to have a clear route plan before setting out. We recommend doing some research and making a list of the top attractions you want to visit. You will want to choose areas that you are comfortable with and that will be quite easier for you to navigate, especially roads or streets that have minimal traffic, so that you are able to drive carefully. This will save you from undue stress when you are on your trip.

  1. Make sure you have a valid driving license.

It is mandatory to have a valid driver’s license for you to travel and drive around Rwanda. It is so daunting and inconveniencing to be pulled over by traffic officers while on your trip because you don’t have a valid driving permit. If you are a first-timer in Rwanda, you will need to obtain a driving permit written in English or an international driver’s license, which translates your local driver’s license to the country’s language. Having a valid driver’s license will save you a lot of hassles and inconveniences during your road trip in Rwanda.

  1. Get a reliable vehicle

It is important to consider the type of car you want to use on your self-drive trip in Rwanda. You will need a sturdy and reliable vehicle that can handle all kinds of terrain in all weather conditions. We offer one of the best car rental services in Rwanda, and we can get you a reliable car that will suit your entire trip in Rwanda at the best possible price.

  1. Know your vehicle

It is important to know the vehicle you are going to drive well before you embark on the real adventure, especially if you are renting one or if it’s your first time driving in Rwanda. Usually, most first-time drivers pay attention to things like how to start a car, control the brakes, or change gears. However, there are petty things that may be disastrous if not given due attention. It is basically important to first familiarize yourself with all the controls, such as knowing where the signal lights are and checking whether all the lights are working well, before you drive any vehicle you are not used to. This will save you from much destruction and loss.

  1. Learn the driving rules.

It is important to learn the driving rules of Rwanda before embarking on your adventure. While in Rwanda, you are supposed to drive on the left-hand side of the road (keep left). In this system, vehicles drive on the left side of the road while the driver sits on the right-hand side of the vehicle. It is the opposite of driving on the right-hand side, which is used in countries such as the United States, Canada, and most of Europe.

  1. Hire a local guide.

It is advisable to hire a car with a driver if you are a first-timer in Rwanda and have no idea about the road terrain, weather, or destinations you plan to visit. A guide will help you by providing valuable insight about these places you plan to visit, dealing with traffic, or even the local language.