Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is Rwanda’s newest Park located in western part of the country in the districts of Rutsiro and Ngororero on the edges of the Congo Nile Basin. It is the smallest park covering an area of 34 sq km plus a buffer zone was formed by adjoining two forests Gishwati and Mukura. wildlife in the gishwati-mukura national park and biosphere reserve include primates like chimpanzees, L’Hoests and Blue monkeys, baboons, golden monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys. gishwati mukura national park Wild animals like Red river hogs, bush bucks, serval cats, tree hyraxes, black fronted duiker, chameleons, forest frogs, toads, bush vipers among others. a number of bird species are in the park both species of the Albertine rift endemic species and forest species with 232 species in Gishwati and 163 in Mukura like old world warbler, mountain yellow warbler, white headed wood Hooper among others. The also has over 60 tree species like baboons, ferns, Macaranga, polyscias fulva among others. The government of Rwanda is working with developmental partners in promoting preserving and improving tourism as a Gishwati Area Conservation Program, some of the partners include Forest of Hope Association, Areco Rwanda Nziza, Landscapes Approach Restoration and Conservation project, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Rwanda Development Board plus the World Bank. The efforts of these partners and government are very visible because 67% of Gishwati forest has so far been restored. The park is also mineral rich in the mineral of Coltan used in the manufacturing of cell phones, computers and other electronic devices though the government consider it illegal to mine in the park because it can lead to its extinction, the mineral is still a big threat to the park because corrupt individuals can do anything possible to get their hands on it. The police of Rwanda continue to arrest people mining and also other measures are already in place. There are plenty of attractions for tourists to see and do when visiting this forest in this new park.
History of Gishwati-Mukura National Park
The park was occupied in 2015 by joining two forests the Gishwati and Mukura forest. The main reason for conserving the area was to redress the balance, increase the number of tree species in both the forests, soil fertility, stabilize slopes of hills in the reserve and regulate the flow of water, stop illegal mining. Back in the days the Gishwati forest was covered with large forest and in 1994 after the Rwanda Genocide a lot of Rwandan refugees hosted their home in the forest, as a result a large number of refugees begun to clear the forest in order to create room for homes, farming a large 80% of the land was destroyed and the wildlife in the forest as well. The forest used to extend to lake Kivu in the west and extending up to the tropical rain forest of DRC. In the south it used to stretch up to Nyungwe forest. Many programs have been introduced to restore the pride of the forest by non-government organizations like Gishwati Area Conservation Program in 2007, managed by the forest of Hope Association in 2011. The organizations have so far successfully restored 67% of the forest.
Activities in the Park Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Activities have just been introduced in 2019 in Park and more are being introduced each day. the park has tourism activities so far which include birding, primate viewing, guided nature walks, camping, picnic, waterfall hiking and more are being introduced very now and then. Rwanda is ranked among the safest countries in the world so you shouldn’t worry about your safety while in the country and park.
The park is blessed with two rewarding waterfalls, choosing to hike to then is very adventurous because you have great view of them and also take as many photos as you wish, the park is blessed with unique plantation only found this park and Nyungwe National Park.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is one of the best destinations for birding in Rwanda over 235 species of birds have been recorded in the forest like Rwenzori Turaco. Regal sun bird, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Rwenzori Batis, woodhoopoe, purple-breasted sunbird. Martial eagle, strange weave, Grey Crowned crane, Red throated Alethe, mountain yellow Warblers among others. You shouldn’t miss out the wonderful bird watching and also their sweet melodies. Birding can be done on foot because the park is not that big. Guides help you to identify the various species and getting to the best birding spots.
Chimpanzee trekking is one of the famous tourist attractions in the park, the numbers of the primates are increasing over the years due to the much efforts by the government, you will get a chance to hike the forest with in search of the primate on meeting them you will be given a full hour to spend with them in their natural habitat, watch them play, feed communicate and more rewarding adventure, these primates have gone through a 2 years habituation to ensure that they’re no longer afraid of humans to the point of allowing them in their midst. These creatures share 95% human DNA. Other wildlife can be spotted as well during this activity like wild cats, duikers, forest birds among others.
This activity can be joined to chimpanzee trekking and both done at the same time. You will hike through the forest and visit the golden monkeys in their nature home. Other primate you will spot include L’Hoests monkeys, baboons, blue monkeys, golden monkeys with other creature like wildcats, duikers, forest birds among others.
A walk around the local communities around the park, this activity is guided by those who know them best, experience their culture, how they prepare local food if at all you’re interested you can taste the African food, storytelling, learn how they manage to survive. Enjoy local foods, songs, music and drama, you will have a good time in the local villages, learn how to make craft shoes, visit local farmers in their gardens, if at all you are free with it a visit at the local traditional healers is guaranteed go with them and get some herbs from the forest and learn what they heal. You can also sleep in one of the homes to experience the kind of life lived by the locals. These cultural activities benefit the community and also allows visitors to experience the culture of the local people.
Nature walks/ Hiking
The park is safe back its free from big cats, hence you can walk and view the wildlife in it on foot which is very wonderful to adventure. You will spot species like Red river hogs, bush bucks, serval cats, tree hyraxes, black fronted duiker, chameleons, forest frogs, toads, bush vipers and various primates.one of the best trails to use in this activity is the trail that heads to kazeneza waterfall in middle of the park.
Biking and Cycling.
You will pass through the Congo Nile Trail which provides the best biking experience in East Africa, the trail passes through Nyungwe forest and Lake Kivu and near the park, through the rural Rwanda and experience how true rural Africa looks like.
Accommodations in the park
As the park is still new, it has the Gishwati lodge that has 6 cottages, eco-friendly and a simple lodge and accommodates 12 persons, combines adventure, conservation and luxury in just one place giving you unforgettable experience and amazing views of the park. You can opt to stay in the lodges of volcanoes National Park and Rubavu since it’s just a 30 minutes’ drive from the Gishwati to these parks.
Best time to visit the Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Rwanda has two seasons, the dry and wet seasons, December- June and June to August are the dry months. The wet season are of March to May and October to November. The park is open 24 hours every time of the way, although the ideal time to come is best in the dry season because the temperature is bearable, roads are highly accessible, avoid mud, over grown jungle, during the dry season’s rains are not more likely to rain, hence making tracking easy.
How to get to Gishwati-Mukura National Park
The park is approximately 157 km from Kigali to the park can be used and also a chartered flight from Kigali to the park are available for those that don’t like long drives for only 45 minutes flight. A visit at Gishwati-Mukura National Park can be combined with wildlife viewing in Akagere National Park and gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. From Volcanoes National Park its approximately 27 kilometers to the park. From Rubavu its around 54 kilometers. For best services employee our company as your tour operators, we do all the hustle for you like booking park tickets, transportation, accommodation booking among others, leaving you with nothing more than just showing up for the adventure.