Want a cheap, quick and even SAFE way to get around? Take a motorcycle taxi! No, really. Known as ‘Taxi Moto’ they are actually regulated across most of Rwanda. You will see these guys scooting around in their green jackets, helmets with ID numbers, AND an extra helmet for you! They belong to a Union known as ASSETAMORWA (Abayobozi b'Ishyirahamwe ry'abatwara moto mu Rwanda) and have 9,000 operators with 3,500 of them in Kigali. If they belong to the Union, it means that your driver is insured for accidents! You will find them in every big town and quite a few small ones. I found all of these guys to be safe, friendly and reliable. Only on ever tried to ask for a higher price and I said ‘No’ and the correct price was then quoted. The helmet they provide you is required by law – so do wear it. You will also find that the strap does usually work.
The Taxi Motos in Rwanda are the safest in Africa. And they are insured! They are also cheap and provide a fun experience. You also will find it hard to find a regulated/insured car taxi outside of Kigali. And many of the ones (cars) in Kigali are unregulated!
A few rules about Taxi Motos:
* Agree the price first. Most trips are 300 RWF anywhere
* If they look confused or don’t understand – wait. Get them to ask other Taxi Motos until someone understands you and your destination. Another Taxi may then take you.
* Wear that helmet!
* If you do think they are going too fast shout “bahoro, bahoro”. I never actually saw one going too fast in my travels with them in several cities.
* It is more polite to hold the back rail rather than the driver, but do what ever is safer. Just don’t hold the guy too tight.
* If you want to go for longer trips you can ask a price for a ‘tour’. They will also wait or come back for you if you want to stop somewhere like a restaurant. I was not asked for any extra money for them to come back in 1-2 hours.
* There is etiquette for flagging them down, but any polite hand gesture will do.
Ok. So you want to go from Kigali to Butare in the south or even cross the border and go to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. There used to be 2 bus lines called variations of Yahoo! Car Express. Now there is just the one called New Yahoo! Car Express. Sometime shortened or called another variation depending of the signs in some of their locations.
This is the cheapest way to get between Kigali and Bujumbura. You have to fly otherwise. It cost 6000 RWF ($10.50 or 7.30 Euros) from Kigali to Bujumbura and takes between 5 and 7 hours depending on the driver. The 7 hours was the safe driver. The 5 hours was the crazy driver who killed a pig, raced the other Yahoo bus around blind bends, almost collided with the other bus and a lorry and made 2 passengers sick. Take some whiskey with you. It may be necessary.
They are located in the Centre Ville of Kigali across from the Union Trade Shopping Centre (where Nakumatt supermarket is). They have a bus leaving at 6am every day then apparently every 2 hours after that. Be there at least 15 minutes early as there is some possibility over over-booking some departure times. I recommend the 6am departure from Kigali as you still have daylight time in Butare and/or Bujumbura. Also buy your ticket the day before. French is the optimal language for the ticket people, but you can get by with some English.
Security at the stops (2 in Rwanda, once at the border) is generally good, but someone did try and grab a small bag of mine through an open window when I got out. It had a locking cable attached to the seat, so they had no chance.
On board is a bit cramped and you change busses sometimes while still in Kigali. The environment was fun and friendly though. Good music, laughing fellow passengers and the staff took care of the large bags. It is a great way to experience local life, see the countryside and sometimes have long conversations with Rwandans about their country.