I just made a very interesting observation when it comes to booking accommodations in Rwanda. It seems that sometimes, it’s cheaper when you call accommodations directly in Rwanda than booking them on websites like booking.com.
Saving money when booking accommodations in Rwanda
I’m in the process right now of booking all my accommodations for my upcoming mini-RTW trip. I am travelling with my girlfriend Karen and my sister Eunice for the Africa portion of this trip. So while doing my research, I am always looking for accommodations that fits three individuals. This way, we can save money by splitting the cost between the three of us.
During the process, I was checking prices on booking.com for accommodations and crossed referenced them on the actual company’s websites. And typically, prices outside booking.com tends to be cheaper! Here’s an example of a hotel (Kivu Peace View Hotel) we booked in Gisenyi, Rwanda bordering Democratic Republic of Congo where we plan on climbing the volcano Mount Nyiragongo:
Booking.com prices for the family room for 4 people
Price of the hotel from the company website
As you can see, there’s a $12 USD difference on the price by booking it on the company website versus booking it on booking.com.
But then, I decided to call the hotel itself using WhatsApp to check on prices. The receptionist quoted us 60,000 Rwandan Franc which is $90 CAD! So if I booked it through booking.com, this same accommodation would have costed us $142 CAD ($106 USD) verus $90 CAD! That’s a savings of $52 CAD!
That’s a huge difference!
When prices aren’t the same as their website
One of the confusing things I noticed when booking your accommodations in Rwanda is that sometimes, prices on the company website differs from Booking.com.
My group wanted to do a safari in Akagera National Park and decided to book our accommodation in Akagera Rhino Lodge. Upon checking the website, it says that the cost for booking with three people is $80 USD. However, if you look at booking.com, the price is $100 USD for three people.
Upon seeing this, I thought it was the same situation as the Kivu Peace View Hotel situation where the prices on their website is cheaper than booking.com. I noticed the website did not have a method of booking and realized I had to call in to book to get this $80 USD price.
I then called the hotel using WhatsApp (African countries love using WhatsApp). Upon speaking with the receptionist, turns out that the price on their website is wrong! He told me that they haven’t updated it yet and their web designer is working on it. Therefore, the right price is the one in booking.com and not on their official website.
So the lesson learned here is to always call the hotel first when making a booking in Rwanda. There’s always a chance you might get a better price that way than booking online.
What about points and miles?
When booking your accommodations in Rwanda, the one place you can use your points and miles is in Kigali, the capital city. They have a Marriott property there for 17,500 points per night. Unfortunately for me, at the time I am writing this article, I have zero Marriott points. I transferred them to Karen so that she will have enough Aeroplan miles to go on our big Aeroplan mini-RTW adventure with me.
My sister did redeem her Marriott points in Kigali, however, they won’t let three individuals be in the room when redeeming points. In that case, my sister can bring one more person in but not both Karen and myself.
I’m laughing at the thought of this now but we might end up having Karen stay with my sister and I find a cheap hostel somewhere to stay while we are in Kigali.
When booking accommodations in Rwanda, always call the hotel first before making that booking online. You might get lucky and get massive savings like we did when we booked our hotel in Gisenyi, Rwanda.
It’s also a good way to double check if prices are accurate and they can also complete your booking over WhatsApp.
Finally, every single hotel in Rwanda seems to be reachable by WhatsApp so you definitely need to have this app when communicating with the companies in that country.