Gishwati Mukura National Park
Gishwati Mukura National Park, Rwanda’s fourth national park, is comprised of two forests: the larger Gishwati and the smaller Mukura, with a combined area of 34 square kilometres (not including the buffer zone).
In 2015, it was officially designated as a national park with the goal of reversing these negative trends by planting more trees to boost soil fertility, stabilise slopes, and control stream flow.
The two forests Mukura and Gishwati are located in the west of the nation along the extraordinarily biodiverse Albertine Rift, which forms a ridge separating the Congo and Nile water catchment basins.
Tourism in Gishwati Mukura National Park
The Gishwati Forest joined the Gishwati-Mukura Forest National Park in 2019. Tourist activities in the park began in 2019, and they include guided nature hikes, chimpanzee and monkey tracking, bird viewing, and trips to the waterfalls.
There are two concessions in the national park. These include the Mukura Forest and the Gishwati Forest. The Rwanda Development Board, Wilderness Safaris, and Forest of Hope all contribute to the management of the Gishwati Forest Concession. All of Rwanda’s national parks are under the purview of the Rwanda Development Board. Gishwati Forest’s replanting and conservation efforts are being overseen by Forest of Hope, while Wilderness Safaris is in charge of the park’s tourist operations. The Mukura Forest is still off-limits to the public, while the Gishwati Forest welcomed its first visitors on December 1, 2020.
Chimpanzee tracking is the most popular activity in Gishwati Forest, although visitors may also observe Golden Monkeys, serval cats, and other creatures. When the year 2020 rolled around, the Forest of Hope Guest House welcomed its first guests. If you want to see Gishwati Forest National Park, you have to stay in the guest house.
The Rwanda Development Board provides guides, and people from the surrounding villages offer their services as animal trackers.
Those planning to visit the park are required to obtain the appropriate permits in advance.
A chimpanzee monitoring licence will cost you $100 beginning in 2021.
Both the park’s administrative office and the Forest of Hope Guest House are your best bets for arranging guides and other necessary services. This is something that will be planned out for you and factored into the cost of your trip if you are using a tour operator.
Gishwati Forest is a good place to go for chimpanzee tracking. The Forest of Hope Guest House is where you’ll need to stay for this activity since it begins bright and early in the morning. It is estimated that there are now roughly 30 chimpanzees living in Gishwati Forest. Although chimpanzee tracking is possible here, unlike in Nyungwe or Cyamudongo Forest, the chimps are not habituated to people, making it more challenging.
Gishwati Forest is home to three separate hiking routes. The 8-kilometre-long Umushwati Trail winds directly through the forest. In the vicinity of the Forest of Hope Guest House, you’ll find the beginning of the 7-kilometer-long Waterfall route. The Matyazo Hill Trail is a 3 km loop that may be done in conjunction with the Umushwati Trail, taking you to the park’s highest point at 2469 m.
Conservation Efforts for Gishwati Mukura National Park
Twenty chimpanzees, together with golden monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, and blue monkeys, call Gishwati home. Gishwati has 232 bird species and Mukura has 163, including several forest specialists and endemics to the Albertine Rift.
The tiny population of isolated chimpanzees in eastern Africa and might serve as a laboratory for the development of innovative conservation strategies. In 2008, there were just 13 individuals left in the whole population, and they were almost extinct. With the help of the Rwandan government and the Gishwati Area Conservation Program, the population expanded by 46 per cent, from 15 in 2008 to 19 in 2011. There are now 30 Chimpanzees in the forest. Great apes all around the globe may benefit greatly from efforts similar to those created to aid Gishwati’s great apes.
Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans rely on the Gishwati forest for their survival.
The forest protects the topsoil and helps keep its fertility stable.
The area’s rich biodiversity has the potential to attract eco-tourists, which would be good for Rwanda’s economy in the long run.
Loss of biodiversity is severe due to Gishwati Forest deforestation. An extinction rate of 99.7% has occurred in the realm of fauna alone. The native people’s dependence on the local flora has also declined dramatically. The native population’s access to wild foods like fruits and vegetables has decreased by 99.6% and the availability of wild medicines has dropped by 79.5%.
It is estimated that there are 58 different kinds of trees and plants in the forest reserve, including several different kinds of native hardwoods and bamboo. The Macaranga kilimandscharica tree was found to be the most prevalent species in undisturbed areas of the forest, according to a recent study of the forest’s carbon sequestration. Carapa grandiflora, Entandrophagrama excelsum, and Symphonia globulifera are colonising areas of the forest that have been disturbed in the past but are now regenerating. Large tree ferns and blue lichen are two other types of plant life found in the preserve.
Fauna in the park
Within the reserve, you can find numerous species of flora and fauna. The Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurtii), the golden monkey, the blue monkey, and the L’Hoest’s monkey are the four species of primates found there. Though not since 2002, a fifth species of primate, the black and white colobus monkey, has been reported. Twenty East African chimpanzees roam the forest at now, according to estimates. From a starting population of 13 chimpanzees in 2008, when the GACP was first established, the population has grown by 54 percent.
Other mammals found in Africa include the African golden cat (Felis silvestris), serval (Leptailurus serval), southern tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax arboreus), black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus nigrifrons), and red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus) (Caracal aurata). There are also 84 different species of birds, including the white-headed wood hoopoe (Phoeniculus bollei) and the mountain yellow warbler (Iduna similis). Some of the amphibians that call the forest home include brown forest frogs, several types of toads, and a few lizards. The Gishwati Forest is home to several chameleon species as well as the great lakes bush viper.
Cultural encounters in Gishwati Mukura National Park
Farm stays, cultural dance performances, beekeeping lessons, tea plantation tours, and meetings with local healers who employ botanicals as an adjunct to Western medicine and synthetic medications are just some of the community-based activities available.
How to get to Gishwati Mukura National Park
The Gishwati forest is conveniently located next to the major road connecting Rubavu and Karongi. Primate sightings on the highway are not uncommon. To get to the park office from Rubavu, you may take a bus, although it is not suggested that you use a cab, bike, or minivan. You’ll find the park’s headquarters on the main road just beyond the Gishwati Forest gate in the section of the park that’s closest to Rubavu. The park headquarters is located in a gated facility with blue roofs on the edge of the forest, overlooking the tea plantations of Pfunda, and is visible from the main road leading in from Rubavu.
To get to Gishwati Forest from Kigali quickly, take the RN4 through Musanze and on to Rubavu. About 15 minutes before reaching Rubavu, you will come to a junction beside the Pfunda Tea Factory. Take a left here to go toward Karongi.
Just keep going in the direction of Karongi for the next half an hour or more. On your right, just before entering Gishwati forest, is the blue park office complex. The full trip, including stops, is estimated to take 3.5–4 hours.
Proceed on the main road that leads to Rubavu. Gishwati Forest is on a major road. On your way out of the forest and into the Pfunda Tea Plantations, you’ll pass a blue-roofed office complex known as a blue park. Without any stops, the journey should take no more than two hours.
Best Time to Visit Gishwati Mukura National Park?
In close proximity to the equator, Rwanda has a warm and humid subtropical climate. Located in the western Kivu Belt, where it gets more precipitation than the country’s more central and eastern regions, lies Gishwati Mukura National Park. This is where the country’s tropical rainforests are located. Gishwati Mukura National Park is located in the tropics, but because of its height, the weather is almost always mild and pleasant, averaging 25 degrees Celsius during the day and 15 to 20 degrees Celsius at night.
Though precipitation occurs at all times of the year, the Kivu Belt has two rainy seasons, one longer and one shorter. March through May is the heaviest rainy period. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are commonplace at this time of year, and some days may be entirely cloudy, although sporadic bright sunlight is sometimes possible. Rainfall is lower but more intense during the shorter rainy season (October–December). Even during the wetter months, it is not uncommon for the morning to be clear, with the clouds building during the day and eventually bringing rain in the evening.
While brief afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon during the transitional time between the rainy seasons in January and February, it is also not uncommon for this period to go without precipitation for many days. Less precipitation falls during this season, making it an ideal time to go, and less people travel there, too, resulting in cheaper hotel and lodge rates.
The Kivu Belt has the lowest rainfall in the summer months of June, July, and August. Even though it’s the dry season, you may still anticipate the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. This is the peak tourist season, yet it also happens to be the greatest time to visit. This time of year coincides with the high season for tourism in the Kivu Belt, since it is the vacation season in Rwanda. These peak seasons tend to see higher occupancy rates at hotels and theme parks.
Two separate twin rooms, each with its own private bathroom, are available at the inn, and camping is also an option. Every meal of the day may be enjoyed here since the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and supper. On a hillside with a view of the woods, you’ll find the cosy guesthouse. Since 2019 Gishwati Forest has become a national park, and all visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times.
Unfortunately no accommodations were found.
Unfortunately no tours were found.