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Kyanika Uganda Rwanda Land Border Crossing

Uganda-Rwanda Border, Kisoro district
Uganda-Rwanda Border, Kisoro district

UPDATE (7th March 2022): In a communication issued by the Rwanda Government, the Rwanda-Uganda land borders have fully reopened on 7th March 2022 to all travelers. This means that Bamboo Ecotours gorilla treks with pickup and drop off in Kigali can be booked. There may be Covid-19 PCR testing requirements to cross the border. The most recent Covid-19 travel protocols for Rwanda can be accessed here.

UPDATE (28th January 2022): In a communication issued by the Rwanda Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it appears the Rwanda-Uganda land border of Gatuna (Katuna) is set to re-open on 31st January 2022. If the Gatuna border is re-opened, the rest of the land borders (Kyanika & Kagitumba) would also be opened. The land border is open to cargo trucks only. No people are permitted to cross the border.

UPDATE (December 2021): As of December 2021, the Rwanda-Uganda land borders (Kyanika, Katuna, and Kagitumba) are all still closed due to Covid-19. No tourists are permitted to cross the land borders. However, air travel between Rwanda & Uganda is open, which makes it possible to visit both countries independently.

UPDATE (June 2021): Is the Uganda Rwanda border open? No. The Rwanda-Uganda land border at Kyanika (Cyanika) is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tourists are not permitted to cross the border. Please read further for details….

Kyanika (also known as Cyanika on the Rwanda side) is the official land border crossing between Uganda and Rwanda, located in Kisoro district, southwestern Uganda. The administrative division of the Kyanika border is the Kyanika Town Council, which is part of the Kisoro district local administration system. On the Rwanda side, the Cyanika border is located in the Burera District, northern province.

The Kyanika border crossing is an essential driver for the growth of gorilla tourism in the Kisoro area. Much as it is less busy than the Katuna border post, the Kyanika border crossing takes in more tourists and individual travelers than the Katuna border post. Kyanika connects two major tourism hubs in East Africa. The Kyanika border POINT best serves travelers visiting the southern part of Bwindi National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Tourists traveling through Kigali airport in Rwanda can cross the Kyanika border and trek mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Lake Mutanda, famous for canoeing activities, is also a few kilometers from the Kyanika border as does the nearby Lake Chahafi. 

Similarly, visitors to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park can travel to Rwanda from Uganda through the Kyanika border. Volcanoes National Park is about an hour’s drive from Kyanika. Tourists traveling to Virunga National Park to trek gorillas or hike Mount Nyiragongo in DR Congo connect through the Kyanika border if traveling from Uganda. The alternative route to Virunga National Park is the Bunagana border. Due to safety and security concerns in eastern DR Congo, the Kyanika-Musanze-Goma Grand Barriere route is preferred by tour operators.

The most popular trips organized by Bamboo Ecotours originating from Kigali include;

  1. 2-Day Gorilla Trekking Safari at Bwindi National Park
  2. 3-Day Gorilla Trekking Safari at Bwindi National Park
  3. 4-Day Gorillas, Wildlife, and Chimp Trekking Safari
  4. 5-Day Gorillas, Wildlife, and Chimp Trekking Safari 

Kyanika is about 120km from Kigali city, 11km from the nearby Kisoro town, and about 80kms from Kabale and Lake Bunyonyi. There are public buses that connect Kigali to Kyanika via Musanze/Ruhengeri town. If boarding a public bus in Kigali traveling to Uganda via Kyanika border, get to Nyabugogo bus stage, board a public bus to Musanze town in northern Rwanda, from Musanze take a matatu/taxi to the Kyanika border, which should take about 30 minutes. If traveling between Goma and Kampala through Kyanika, some bus companies that operate the Kampala-Goma route via the Kyanika border are Jaguar Executive Coaches and Trinity Bus Express.

Immigration and visa processing at Kyanika border

Both Rwanda and Uganda have immigration offices at the Kyanika border. If you already have a visa, the process of verifying documents takes less time. If a visa is to be obtained at the border point, it is recommended to carry USD in cash. A credit card might not be acceptable by the immigration office.

Kyanika Uganda Rwanda border crossing during Covid-19

When posting this article (December 2020), the Kyanika land border is still closed, and tourists traveling from Uganda to Rwanda or Rwanda to Uganda are not permitted to cross the border. If you plan to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking via Kigali during this period, please contact us, and we can discuss the best options for your trip.

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