GISHWATI MUKURA NATIONAL PARK

GISHWATI MUKURA NATIONAL PARK

When you talk about Rwanda National Parks, Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes are the first that come at the back of most travelers. Beyond the usual 3 parks, there is an addition of Gishwati-Mukura National Park making Rwanda a destination with 4 beautiful National Parks.

Gishwati-Mukura National Park was established in 2015 and officially opened its gates to the public in 2019. This park was creation after merging two forest reserves: Gishwati and Mukura Forest Reserves. Unlike Nyungwe Forest National Park, Gishwati-Mukura NP covers an area of only 34 sq.km. This park lies close to Lake Kivu, Northwestern Rwanda. The park spans in the 2 districts: Rutsiro and Ngororero in Rwanda.

The main tourist attractions of Gishwati-Mukura N/Park

Gishwati-Mukura NP holds diversity of attractions that make it a special destination of its own. It is home to a variety of primate species, bird and floral species. The tourism attractions to explore while on Rwanda safari in this park;

Primates

Gishwati Mukura National Park shelters diversity of primates that are of visitor interest on Rwanda tour. They include an estimate of 20 chimpanzees; golden monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, galagos, pottos, black and white colobus monkeys. Other animal species to find in Gishwati-Mukura NP include the Southern tree hyrax, great Lake bush vipers, black-fronted duikers, and more.

Birds

At Gishwati-Mukura National Park, there are 232 bird species to be spotted, some of which are Albertine rift endemic species. The bird species to identify on a tour in this park include the dusky crimson wing, Rwenzori batis, purple breasted sunbird, handsome francolin, grey crowned crane, mountain yellow warblers, martial eagle, grauer’s swamp warblers, black faced apalis, white-headed wood hoopoe, Abyssinian ground thrush, red-throated alethe, regal sunbirds, and many more.

Things to do in Gishwati-Mukura NP

Primate trekking/watching

Primate watching is the leading experience that Gishwati-Mukura National Park has to offer the world. This on-foot-walk primate experience take you through the lush forest for you to search for diversity of primates including l’hoest monkeys, blue monkeys, golden monkeys, baboons, and chimpanzees. This park also offers the best of chimpanzee trekking and comes after Nyungwe Forest National Park where tourists can engage in the search for chimpanzees in their natural habitat.

Bird watching

Gishwati-Mukura National Park is an exceptional birding destination of its own and on Rwanda birding tours, it should be a must-visit. This park is home to 232 species of birds, expect to find Albertine rift endemic species including the red-throated alethe, Rwenzori batis, grey crowned cranes, wood hoopoes, Rwenzori turacos, martial eagle, stripe-breasted tit, mountain yellow warblers, strange weavers, purple-breasted sunbird, and many more. Birders can gather at the park offices to be briefed and then set foot into the jungles to begin their birding expedition.

Nature walks/hiking

Nature walks/hiking is a special on-foot walk activity taking nature lovers into the rich habitats of the park. You explore the park on foot while appreciating its natural beauty and sighting species such as primates, butterflies, reptiles, and many others. An experienced park guide is assigned to visitors and he or she leads the group on a hiking tour/nature walk. The park has 3 marked trails for tourists to hike through including the waterfall trail which is 4 miles long, Matyazo hill trail which takes you through steep area 2 miles and Umushwati trail 5 miles.

Cultural visit

Other than primate treks, there is also a chance to explore the nearby local communities adjacent to the park. There are different cultural or community activities for tourists to engage in that have been designed to promote eco-tourism. Some of the projects you should expect exploring include beekeeping, visit the traditional healers, get entertained by the traditional dance group, and many others.

The Congo Nile cycling experience

The Congo Nile cycling tour is a must-do while at Gishwati-Mukura National Park in Rwanda. This trail is designed offering cyclists a chance to explore the scenic shores of Lake Kivu and parts of Nyungwe Forest National Park in the Southern Province.

When to visit

The dry season is the best time to travel to Gishwati-Mukura National Park and there are two phases; the first phase runs from June to September/December, January to February. This is the perfect period to enjoy guided hiking experiences in Gishwati-Mukura. Tourists can also visit the park during the wet or rainy season, although this is a period when the park records heavy rains and the ground can be muddy or slippery thus making it a bit challenging to hike through its trails.

With the right knowledge about when you should be at this park, visitors have some guidance on what to pack as well. Essentials such as waterproof hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts, safari hat, trousers, camera, rain jacket, daypack, and other items, should be a must-have on your Rwanda safari to Gishwati-Mukura.

Where to stay in/at Gishwati-Mukura NP, Rwanda

Gishwati-Mukura NP still has fewer accommodation facilities for visitor stay but the available offer ultimate comfort. The lodges to stay in include the hilltop Forest of Hope Guesthouse (offering budget accommodation services), and Gishwati Lodge (luxury accommodation). Gishwati Lodge is an eco-friendly property comprising of 6 luxury chalets accommodating up to 15 visitors.

How to get to Gishwati-Mukura N/Park (Rwanda)

Gishwati-Mukura NP is found along the main route between Rubavu and Karongi. It is lying near Rubavu town, accessible just 40 minutes’ drive and from Kigali capital, you need 2-3 hours’ drive.