EER140: Rwanda Gorillas, a Rwanda Safari & Travel in Rwanda Today

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When people talk about the country of Rwanda, they rarely think of Rwanda today. The horrors of Rwanda history are real and should be well-remembered. Yet we must also remember that 1994 was a long time ago — a lot can happen in 20 to 25 years.

Rwanda today is one of the safest places on the African continent. Expect friendly people, a fascinating culture and one of the largest jungles in Africa. That includes the gorillas of Rwanda. Today we talk about Rwanda gorillas, a Rwanda safari, the Rwandan people and the joys of exploring Rwanda today.

Rwandan-Schools EER139 Rwanda Gorillas, a Rwanda Safari & Travel in Rwanda Today

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  • 02:33 Intro to Karen
  • 04:14 Why Travel in Rwanda?
  • 09:08 Getting to Rwanda with Kids
  • 10:34 Safety & More in Rwanda Today
  • 16:24 Internet in Rwanda
  • 19:35 Food in Rwanda Today
  • 22:23 A Rwanda Safari
  • 29:03 Gorillas in Rwanda
  • 36:49 Visiting Rwandan Schools
  • 42:37 Going to Rwanda with fair skinned/haired children (expect attention)
  • 47:17 Accommodation in Rwanda

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Karen Beddow Rwanda boat EER139 Rwanda Gorillas, a Rwanda Safari & Travel in Rwanda Today

  • Names: Karen Beddow, her husband and three girls (7 years & and 6y/o twins)
  • Hold passports from: the UK
  • Type of travel: Local UK travel and now longer-distance travel
  • A few places they’ve been: Rwanda, Malawi, all over the UK & Europe



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Travel in Rwanda Today

Today’s guest is Karen Beddow of Minitravellers. She recently had the chance to visit Rwanda and decided to make it into a family trip. When her husband turned 40, he decided to get involved in a charity. That charity became Friends of Rwandan Rugby. Why Friends of Rwandan Rugby? More on that in the podcast.

With hubby planning to visit Rwanda for charity work, Karen decided to make it into a family trip. She had recently taken the kids from the UK to Orlando Florida for a visit to Disneyland. Once she realized that they could handle a flight that long she decided it was time to try something more adventurous. Yesterday: Disneyland. Rwanda today. Seems like a natural transition, right? Ha. “My friends said ‘are you crazy?'” Karen says with a laugh.

Karen wasn’t sure how the kids would respond to travel in Rwanda. But you know what? They loved it.

Is Rwanda Safe?

When Karen began planning her travel to Rwanda, there was one question she heard more than any other: “Is Rwanda safe?” The irony of this question was not lost on Karen, who lives in the UK. She explains that at the time people were asking her “Is Rwanda safe,” a bomb had just exploded in Manchester and “the whole of the UK was on high alert.”

She told her friends that she was more afraid of flying out of Manchester airport at the time.

Twenty-five years ago, Rwanda was a nightmare, and it should never be forgotten. But is Rwanda safe now? Yes. The Rwandan people “are incredibly proud of how they’ve changed it around,” Karen explains. “They were given the chance to turn it around,” she continues, “and they all want to talk about how good it is now.”

We talk about how safe it is in Rwanda today, and not just in Kigali, but in the villages as well. We also talk about some other forward-thinking policies in effect in Rwanda today. For example, Rwanda has put a ban on bringing plastic into the country.

Internet in Rwanda Today

With all the advancements in Rwanda, today have come improvements to their infrastructure. One part of that is the internet. You won’t find high-speed broadband like in Chiang Mai or many places in the west. However, you will find internet where there was none before.

Don’t expect broadband wifi, Karen says. Instead what you’ll find when you travel in Rwanda are 3G and 4G networks. You’ll also find Whatsapp, the social media platform that much of the world uses to communicate. You buy a new SIM for your phone, then buy credit from shops along the road. There are places with wifi in the cities, but don’t expect it to be reliable all the time in Rwanda today. Karen explains more in our conversation.

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Things to Do in Rwanda with Kids

Karen’s family had some amazing experiences during their Rwanda travels. They visited schools in Rwanda and played with the kids there. They took a Rwanda safari, as well, which was an incredible experience for all. On their Rwanda safari, they saw rhino, zebras, giraffes and countless hippos. Yet, they didn’t see lions, and one reason they didn’t is that in Rwanda the animals run free. Rangers don’t constantly track them for tourists.

The Rwanda Safari Approach

There are different approaches to running a safari park, Karen explains. In places like South Africa, guides and rangers constantly monitor animal location. Here you are guaranteed to see the entire spectrum of wildlife there. That may be good for the spectators and shutterbugs. Yet there are downsides to animals being constantly surrounded by Range Rovers full of clicking cameras.

Rwanda tourism and the Rwandan government have chosen a different approach. Like in Kenya, the animals are left to roam. For example, guide and trackers will try to locate them, but there are no guarantees. From a family travel perspective, this can be problematic: what if no animals cross your path? Then again, there’s something to be said about the approach with respect to the animals’ well-being.

Gorillas in Rwanda

karen beddow rwanda gorilla EER139 Rwanda Gorillas, a Rwanda Safari & Travel in Rwanda Today

This Rwanda Safari approach goes several steps further when it comes to the Rwanda gorillas. Visiting the gorillas of Rwanda is one of the most amazing things Karen has ever done, she says. But it’s not for everyone. The Rwanda tourism and the government of Rwanda have placed a lot of restrictions on visits, and for good reason. Few mountain gorillas remain. That’s why the new Rwandan government wants to support them and the community where they live.

Want to see the gorillas in Rwanda? You have to be over 15 years old. The gorillas are so big, and while not really dangerous, the gorilla guides need to make sure that everyone stays calm in the jungle. “In reality,” says Karen, ” nobody wants to shoot a mountain gorilla.”


Group Size (Visiting the Rwandan Gorillas)

The Rwandan government limits the size of groups visiting the mountain gorillas as well: 10 people max, and you visit one family of gorillas only. You get one hour, and then you’re out. Each family of Rwanda gorillas sees only one group per day. With that knowledge, consider that there are only 10-12 families of gorillas, so that means 100-120 people per day. That’s it.

Visiting the gorillas of Rwanda is not cheap either. The price for this was once USD $750, but recently the Rwandan government doubled that. Paying USD $1,500 for one hour with wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda sounds exorbitant — and it may be. Seeing mountain gorillas in the wild may now be out of reach for most normal people and solely for the rich. That said, consider that the money spent to see Rwanda gorillas goes back into the community. For example, many of the men who were once poachers now have a salary to serve as guides and rangers. When given the choice, they would much prefer to be guides and rangers.

Karen and her husband had an incredible experience, which she talks about in the podcast, and as you can see right here.

More Info on Tourism in Rwanda Today

This is only a portion of our talk on tourism in Rwanda today. Listen in to hear more about things to do in Rwanda, visiting Rwandan schools, the charity they worked for and what it’s like when Rwandan children see their first fair-haired, fair-skinned child singing in their schools.

Have you traveled in Rwanda or elsewhere in the African continent? Get in touch and tell us about it!

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel. If you’re interested in Rwanda gorillas, Rwandan safaris & travel in Rwanda today, we hope this helps you plan your trip!