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How to Travel from Kampala, Uganda to Kigali, Rwanda by Bus

Traveling by bus between Kampala and Kigali is pretty straightforward. One bus will take you all the way. No transfers required. The journey takes about 9 hours and can be made during the day or overnight. In this guide, I’ll outline how to buy tickets, prices, bus times, and more.  

An African bus

I don’t have a photo of the actual bus. This is a similar one that I rode in Kenya.

The Best Kampala to Kigali Bus Company

The best bus company making this trip is called Trinity. They have the newest, most comfortable buses and operate, for the most part, on time. Another decent company making this trip is called Jaguar. They offer a similar service in terms of safety and reliability.

Anumber of other companies operate the route between Kampala and Kigali as well, but they may run older buses or are not as reliable. Safety is also a concern as some of the bus drivers speed like maniacs. Regardless of which company you choose, they will all get you to where you are going.

Where to Buy Bus Tickets Between Kampala and Kigali

In Kampala- The Trinity ticket office is located near Namirembe road and Old Kampala road. The Jaguar ticket office is just down the street. The buses leave from the ticketing offices where you buy your tickets. 

In Kigali- If you are traveling from Kigali to Kampala, the ticket office for Trinity and Jaguar is located at the Nyabugogo bus terminal. This place is located a ways outside the city center. You’ll probably want to take a motorcycle, taxi, or city bus to get there. Every driver knows where the station is.

Buying Bus Tickets

Several bus companies operate the Kampala to Kigali route multiple times per day. It is generally not necessary to buy your ticket in advance if you don’t care about which company you travel with. If you want to travel with a specific bus company, you’ll want to buy your ticket at least one day in advance to make sure you get a seat. Busses do fill up occasionally. 

I prefer to buy my ticket at least a day in advance if possible. I do this so I know where the bus station is located on the day of travel. It relieves a lot of stress not having to frantically search for an address early in the morning.

Ticket Prices Between Kampala and Kigali

Bus tickets cost between 40,000-45,000 UGX from Kampala to Kigali. For the most part, all of the companies will charge about the same so you might as well go with the best, most comfortable service. You may be able to find a slightly cheaper rate with one of the smaller, lesser-known companies if the cost is an issue for you.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can make this journey with a series of minibusses and save a few shillings. From central Kampala, you can catch a minibus heading southwest toward Rwanda. You’ll probably have to transfer in Mbarara, Uganda and at the border. You may require several more transfers along the way. 

African minibus with a full load

A typical African minibus

Bus Times

Trinity and Jaguar have buses leaving at 7 am and 9 am. Night buses are also available leaving in the evening and arriving in Kigali early in the morning. Between all of the bus companies operating this route, there is a bus leaving from Kampala to Kigali every hour or two. The journey takes about 9 hours.

I generally prefer to take night buses when I travel because it saves me the cost of a night of accommodation. For this trip, I took the day bus because it fit my schedule better.

Breaking Up the Trip

If you have an extra day and would like to break up the trip a bit, I highly recommend visiting Lake Bunyonyi. It is a picturesque lake located in the southwest of Uganda, just outside the small town of Kabale.

I spent a relaxing day just strolling around the lake and the town. This turned out to be one of my favorite places in Africa. To get to the lake from Kbale, you must take a short taxi or motorcycle ride. There are several hotels in town where you can get a room for around $10.

For more information on this trip, check out my step-by-step guide: How to Visit Beautiful Lake Bunyonyi as well as my guide to 15 Lakes of the Rift Valley.

Lake Bunyonyi is a great stopover to make because it is so convenient and easy to do. Trinity and Jaguar both make stops in Kabale anyway. To make this stopover, you can simply buy a ticket from Kampala to Kabale then catch another bus the next day that is continuing from Kabale to Kigali. Buses make this trip frequently so it isn’t a problem to catch one on its way. From Kabale, you are only about 2 hours from Kigali.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

The Gatuna Border Crossing

You will cross between Uganda and Rwanda at the Gatuna border crossing. This crossing is smooth and fairly efficient. You will most likely be asked to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate at this border crossing regardless of the direction you’re traveling. One thing to remember is that plastic bags are not allowed in Rwanda. When customs checks your luggage, they may confiscate any single-use plastic bags. If you have the East Africa visa, you can cross this border without applying for another visa. 

The Rwanda Visa

The Rwanda visa is available at the border and costs $30 for most nationalities. After the immigration official checks your passport, they will give you a form for you to take to another window to pay for your visa. After you pay, you will be given a receipt. Next, you will return to the immigration office and present your receipt. The official will then stamp your passport and send you on your way.

The Uganda Visa

For most nationalities, Uganda does not issue visas on arrival at the border. You’ll have to apply online in advance. The cost is $50 plus a few dollars for a processing feel. You can pay by credit card. You’ll need to send a scanned copy of your passport and yellow fever vaccine along with your vis application. The visa takes just a day or two to process. They will email you an approval letter. After you’re approved, you’ll have to find a place to print the approval letter. You’ll need his letter when you cross the border. You can apply for your Uganda e-visa here. 

Arriving in Kigali, Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda

Trinity and Jaguar buses arrive in Kigali at the Nyabugogo bus terminal. This is a big, busy bus terminal located on the edge of the city. Most likely you will need to take a taxi or minibus to your destination in Kigali. If you want to withdraw Rwandan franks, there are ATMs located across the street from the bus terminal.

Have you traveled between Kampala and Kigali by bus? Share your experience in the comments below!

For a list of more step-by-step bus guides, check out my Ultimate African Bus Guide.

More Africa Guides from Where The Road Forks

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Domenico

Tuesday 19th of July 2022

I just travelled from Kigali to Kampala using the Trinity bus. Things have changed a bit since Covid, and I thought I should let you know about my experience. There are only two buses for Trinity and 2 for Jaguar in each direction. One day bus and one evening bus. The day bus leaves at 5am, and I'm not sure exactly what time the evening bus leaves. All crossings go through Kagitumba now, not Katuna. It's a bit further east, but it makes it difficult to visit Lake Bunyonyi. I found customs processing to be very inefficient, and it added 2.5 hours to the journey. I think this is because they added a Port Health check for both countries in addition to the Rwanda exit formalities and Uganda entry processing. Other than the lengthier journey, the experience was as you described. I don't know if I'd do it again, but the countryside in these two countries is beautiful, and I met some very kind people on the bus. I wasn't very impressed with the Trinity staff though. They were quite rude to people who needed toilet breaks, even threatening to leave them behind if they didn't come back straightaway. And the bus driver was definitely one of the speedier ones! Thanks for publishing this blog, I found it very useful for my trip here to these beautiful countries.

Debris

Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

@Domenico, Hello, thank you for the very useful blog. Domenico, I'm writing to you because I'm trying to reach Kigali from Nairobi. I will probably have a stopover in Kampala... I would like to know if you have any advice to give me (bus company, exchange office at the border...) Thank you very much

wheretheroadforks

Friday 22nd of July 2022

Thanks for the update! Sounds like things have changed a bit in the years since I made this trip. That's a shame about the customs process. It used to be quick and easy.

Diana

Monday 24th of January 2022

Did you cross the land border between Uganda and Rwanda in 2021?? I saw online that its been closed since 2019. Because of Covid, it is not cheap to fly in, take all the required Covid test, quarantine at the required hotels, etc. My flight is out of Kigali, and I am considering changing it if I cannot cross by land....

Rodney Allen

Saturday 11th of September 2021

Is the border still open? (Sep 2021?

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