By: 10xTravel Reader Hunter H
Greetings from the Land of a Thousand Hills, also known as the beautiful country of Rwanda.
My family of six and I moved here in July 2018 to work with a non-profit missionary organization. In March, I needed to travel to Rwanda to do some groundwork before moving my family. I also had some meetings in Uganda and was able to hop down to Cape Town, South Africa for a couple of days.
Travel expenses for my entire trip should have cost about $4,256.25, but I was able to cover virtually everything by using points & miles. The only out of pocket expenses I had were for food and gas for my car rental. That’s over $4,000 I was able to save the donors to our organization by strategically using miles and points.
The Trip Details
- Atlanta, Georgia to Kigali, Rwanda
- Kigali, Rwanda to Entebbe, Uganda
- Entebbe, Uganda to Cape Town, South Africa
- Cape Town, South Africa to Atlanta, Georgia
- SUV Rental in Kigali, Rwanda
- 9 Nights at Air B and B in Kigali, Rwanda
- 2 Nights Protea Hotel by Marriott in Entebbe, Uganda
- 2 Nights Protea Hotel Durbanville in Cape Town, South Africa
- Some hotel food and snacks
- Cape Town Tour
- 8 Uber Rides
When I first started getting interested in points and miles, my only goal was to get enough Delta SkyMiles to pay for a round-trip ticket on Delta and KLM from Atlanta to Kigali. Once I started reading 10XTravel and joined the Facebook group, I decided I wanted to save even more cash and pay as little as possible for this trip.
I ended up saving quite a few Detla SkyMiles earned from Delta credit cards and I paid for five one-way tickets to Kigali using 200,000 SkyMiles and $92.50 in fees, but that is another story.
So, it looked like I would use 80,000 United Miles per person for a round trip flight.
Then I happened to read about the excursionist perk which allows you to book a flight on miles and get a free one-way flight within a region for no extra miles when you book a round-trip award.
So, rather than a simple round trip for 80,000 United miles, I booked Atlanta to Kigali going connecting in Newark and Brussels, Entebbe to Cape Town via Johannesburg, and Cape Town to Atlanta via Istanbul.
Total cost without miles would have been $2,618.88. Instead, I only paid the taxes/fees of $193.17 which I paid for with my Barclaycard Arrival Plus so I could erase that purchase to get my flight cost to zero.
Next, my plan was to buy an $11.00 one-way bus ticket to get me from Kigali to Entebbe, but I was able to find a one-way flight on Kenya Airways on sale for $93.00. I booked that with my Capital One Venture and erased the purchase again getting another flight for zero dollars.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 monthsLearn more
credit cards page.
Lodging and Other Expenses
In Kigali, I stayed 9 nights at a nice Airbnb for $235.91. I paid with my Barclaycard Arrival Plus so I could use the purchase eraser feature and booked through Delta’s Airbnb site to earn 3X SkyMiles.
Make sure you check out how you can get the most of your Airbnb stays.
I rented a new Toyota Prado Land Cruiser with four-wheel drive for $579. My lovely wife allowed me to use her Capital One Venture card so again the purchase was erased with points. The only cost associated with the rental was the cost of gasoline.
In Entebbe, I booked the Protea By Marriott for 2 nights for 15,000 Marriott Points and the Protea Durbanville in Cape Town for 2 nights for 15,000 Marriott Points. I earned the 30,000 points by transferring 10,000 SPG Starpoints (no longer necessary as the programs have been merged) that I earned with the SPG American Express card.
All SPG Amex and Chase Marriott credit cards have since been rebranded under the new Marriott Bonvoy brand.
In Cape Town, I was able to pay for two tours for $125.87. This cost along with eight Uber rides, airport shuttle fees, and food and snacks at the various hotels were all erased with my Capital One Venture Card.
The main reason for my trip was to lay the groundwork for our move and to meet people with whom we would be working. For me, that was one of the highlights, but most people would be interested in the other parts of the trip.
Rwanda is a beautiful country. While it is a small country just below the equator, its high elevation keeps the temperatures mild like a cool San Diego spring all year-round. The capital city of Kigali has many amazing international restaurants.
If you want French, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Korean, East African, Canadian, or something different, they can all be found in Kigali. With the money I saved on the travel expenses, I was able to eat at three nice restaurants while visiting.
Rwanda is known as the “Singapore of Africa” because it’s always rated the cleanest country on the continent. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a rural village, the capital city, or any of the small towns in between, you will not find any trash on the road. Also, the Global economic index rates Rwanda as the ninth safest country in the world.
Uganda is another beautiful country. While my main purpose was getting ready for my relocation, I truly enjoyed my stay at the Protea in Entebbe.
Located on the banks of scenic Lake Victoria, the Protea is classified as a Category 1 hotel by Marriott. The lake view suites are comfortable and relaxing. The hotel has amazing food and its staff is one of the best I’ve encountered. I truly look forward to visiting this property again in the future.
Now, Cape Town has been on my bucket list for some time. It’s truly a beautiful world-class city. From Table Mountain to the wine country to historic Robben Island, there is plenty to do in this city on the western cape.
I stayed at the Protea Durbanville. It was fine, but I was a little let down after my wonderful experience in Uganda. My accommodation was a two-story two-bedroom apartment style suite, but who is going to stay in the room when you could be on an all-day tour of Robben Island and Table Mountain.
The prison on Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27-year prison sentence. It’s surreal to see his cell, where he lived, and where he worked day in and day out. I highly recommend this tour to learn more about such an important figure in the history of freedom and human rights. On the way back to shore, we saw many whales jumping in the sea which really topped off an already amazing day.
When most people think of Cape Town, they think of the large flat looking mountain known as Table Mountain. No trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to the top. Breathtaking panoramic views of the city capped off a great trip to South Africa. I look forward to taking my family there someday.
This trip to Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa was such an amazing experience. I truly enjoyed being creative and thinking of various ways to keep the cost of this trip to a minimum. I started with the goal of a free airline ticket and ended up with zero out of pocket expense for travel-related purchases and a total savings of $4,256.25.
The total amount of points used included:
- 80,000 United miles
- 30,000 Marriott points
- 38,887 Arrival miles
- 87,981 Capital One miles
This could not have been done without the knowledge I have learned from 10XTravel. Since my first airline award ticket in October of last year, my family and I have saved thousands of dollars by learning how to use our credit card points.
Much of this savings gone toward saving our non-profit (and its donors) a significant amount of money. Credit card points have helped us see places we have never seen before, and be good stewards of the money with which so many have entrusted us.
We look forward to many more adventures in the future!
Disclosure: 10xTravel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. 10xTravel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.