Congo-Rwanda border Crossing for tourists
If you are planning to do a safari in more than one African country, you have to prepare to cross borders at some point. This experience can be hectic especially if you are not familiar with immigration policies in the different countries. Uganda, Rwanda and Congo are still developing countries. The structures in place and technology used do not allow for efficiency in the handling of border crossings.
In the case of Congo, insecurity and even Ebola threats make border crossings more complicated and time consuming. This is not to suggest that crossing the borders in these countries is not a nice experience. It is just that the systems and ways of doing things might be the most efficient on a given day.
The Goma border post
The Goma border crossing is used by tourists who are going to hike Mount Nyiragongo or do gorilla trekking in Virunga and Kahuzi Biega National Park. This border post is also a key trade route connecting the Democratic Republic of Congo to Rwanda. The Goma border post is found in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the city of Goma and town of Gisenyi.
Border Opening Times at Goma Tourists planning to visit the game parks in Congo need to plan to acquire the Congo VISA in advance and share with their tour operator details about their trip. Getting the Congo Visa is more complicated for tourists than that of Rwanda and Uganda. A tour operator can help with processing the Congo VISA so that things are done first. For the VISA to be processed, the Tourist needs to send his/her passport details and dates of travel. The Tour Operator can then coordinate with the Congolese authorities and the park to have the documents processed as soon as possible. It is important to note that apart from the VISA, tourists need to show their yellow fever vaccination card. Once you have all the documents and the VISA approved, crossing the border is straight forward. Do not lose or forget to travel with your yellow vaccination certificate. The border authorities will not allow you to cross if you don’t have the card. There are limited places where you can take the shots in countries outside Africa. You need to identify one in advance so that you book an appointment in advance.
Without these documents, you won’t be allowed to Cross the border between Congo and Rwanda.
If you planning to take a chartered flight from Kigali in Rwanda or Kampala in Uganda, you can process the VISA on your own online or ask your tour operator to do it on your behalf. If you are deciding to apply for the Congo VISA on your own, you may be asked for more documents like your flight schedules, accommodation and safari related bookings. The Congo VISA is got by downloading the VISA application forms from the Congo Embassy website. If you find difficulty locating the forms, you can send an email to the specific Congolese Embassy. The Congo VISA costs $105.
If you are already in Rwanda, you need to hire a public bus or taxi from Kigali to Gisenyi. Gisenyi is the nearest town to the Congo Border post. Most tourists are picked by their Tour operator from a hotel in Kigali or at the airport.
Note: The Goma border post closes at 10:00pm.
Crossing from Congo to Rwanda Apart from the Goma border crossing, there is another entry point to Rwanda in the South-western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Cyangugu border lies at the southern part of the Lake Kivu. Cyangugu is the main town of the district of Rusizi. The Cyangugu border crossing is not as busy as the Goma border post and is used by tourists who have come for relaxation on the beautiful shores of Lake Kivu before heading for more activities in Congo. Crossing this border requires crossing a bridge on River Rusizi.
Rwanda-Uganda border crossings
Distance between Bwindi and Kigali
Many tourists plan their trip to land in Kigali then drive to the Uganda Rwanda border by road. Although crossing the border between Uganda and Rwanda is much easier than the Congo border crossing, one still needs to have all the relevant paper work. A Visa, passport and yellow fever vaccination card will be asked for international travelers. There are two main border posts between Uganda and Rwanda – The Cyanika border in the southern part of Bwindi (Kisoro District) or via Katuna Border in the northern part of Bwindi (Kabale district).
Cyanika border post – Cyanika border hours
Though it is less busy than the Gatuna Border post, The Cyanika border crossing takes in more tourists and individual travelers than Gatuna border post. This is because it connects 2 major tourism hubs in Africa. This border crossing is located in Kisoro district on the Uganda side and Burera District on the Rwanda. Kisoro is where Bwindi Impenetrable forest is found. Those who are booked for gorilla trekking in Bwindi will find the Cyanika border post most reliable. It is closer to the Rushaga sector which is the most visited sector in Bwindi national park. Kisoro is also very close to Mgahinga National Park which is Cyanika Border Post famous for 3 beautiful volcanoes, the mountain gorilla and golden monkey trekking. Burera town in Rwanda is a tourism hotspot like Kisoro and has two amazing twin lakes in Lake Burera and Ruhondo. The town is close to the Volcanoes National Park which is famous for gorilla trekking, the Musanze caves and hiking mountains like Karisimbi. Crossing this border is relatively easy as long as you have all the required documents. It is important to have hold East African Tourist VISA if you are a tourist. If not, you may be asked to acquire a VISA for either Uganda or Rwanda. The East African VISA makes everything look so simple and straight forward. Apart from the Visa you may be asked for your address or the contact information of the person you are visiting in either Uganda or Rwanda. When all documents and information have been verified, you will get a stamp on your passport and proceed to the other side of the border. The Rwanda side of the border has stricter policies and you might be required to hand in your bags to be checked.
Note: It is important to note that the Cyanika border opens at 6:00am Uganda time and 5:00 Rwanda time. Cyanika is therefore not open for 24 hours like the Katuna border.
Gatuna or Katuna Border Post
Crossing borders for gorilla trekking Known as Gatuna in Rwanda and Katuna in Uganda, the border post is the entrance point for travelers and goods crossing from Uganda to Rwanda and vice versa. Most of the goods heading to Rwanda from Kenya pass through the Gatuna border. It has greater tour and commercial traffic than the Cyanika border crossing. On the Uganda side, the border post is found in Kabale (A district in the South Western part of Uganda). On the Rwanda side, the border is found in the district of Gichumbi.
Commercial vehicles dominate the Katuna border post. It is the busiest border post between Uganda and Rwanda. This border is opened 24 hours. Although it was designed for commercial purposes, it is in Kabale which is one of Uganda’s tourism hubs. To cross this border post, citizens from Uganda, Rwanda Gatuna Border and some other countries do not need a VISA except for a National Identity Card. International travelers can acquire the VISA from the border post or use the new East African Tourist Visa. Apart from the VISA and passport, the people in immigration will ask for contact details, address and purpose of visiting the countries. If all everything is clear, your passport will be stamped to allow you proceed with your journey. Crossing the borders is by foot. You may need to change money from one of the many money exchange agents on both sides of the border.
Kigali to Bwindi Drive – Distance between Bwindi and Kigali
The recent increase in the price of gorilla permits has forced many tourist to opt for Uganda as the place to track mountain gorillas. The cost of a gorilla permit is $1500 in Rwanda while in Uganda, it is $600. Gorilla trekking in Uganda can be done in two national parks – Bwindi and Mgahinga. Bwindi National Park has more mountain gorillas than any other country on earth. Unfortunately, the distance from Entebbe or Kampala in Uganda is very long. It takes between 9 to 10 hours to reach Bwindi forest from Entebbe. Tourists find the distance from Kigali to Bwindi shorter – only three hours at most.
Crossing into Uganda for gorilla trekking it is important to note that apart from the shorter drive, there are other reasons why Tourists prefer Uganda to Rwanda. Uganda has more unique activities and experiences than Rwanda. Uganda has ten national parks and over 13 reserves. Some of the unique tourist activities in Uganda are the gorilla habituation experience, hiking volcanoes, the Batwa cultural experience, game drives, whitewater rafting, golden monkey tracking, chimpanzee tracking and launch cruises. Uganda in general has more hotels and lodges.
Get in with safari vacations and travel services for the border crossing in Uganda, Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo for gorilla tracking, as we can assist in planning, booking the permits on your behalf, and arrange the transport not forgetting accommodation, all this intends to avoid inconveniences after you have arrived at Entebbe international airport, Kigali international airport.