The Gishwati Mukura National Park is Rwanda’s newest national park and these fertile grounds are ready to welcome visitors from afar to experience its distinct allure. Located in the west of the country, the park consists of the Gishwati and Mukura forests that form a very important wildlife corridor with rich biodiversity.
The unique ecosystems found in the park are sustaining a varied flora and fauna that are fiercely protected by renewed regeneration with the Gishwati forest growing by a thousand acres in recent times. Sitting on the ridge that divides the Congo and Nile catchment areas, around 60 tree species can be found in the park.
The lush and dense forests of Gishwati and Mukura are a haven for a handful of remarkable species. Safari-goers can expect to come across unique primates and other mammals while a whole host of species of the feathered kind endemic to the Albertine Rift fill the sky.
It is easy to get to the park as the Gishwati part is only 85 kilometres from Kigali. The Mukura sector lies around 35 kilometres east of Karongi.
There is only one hotel inside the park but visitors can make use of overnight facilities in nearby Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Park.
Visitors can partake in wildlife viewing, primate encounters, bird watching and guided walks.
Visitors to Gishwati Mukura National Park can marvel at the antics of several primate species including a group of habituated chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, and golden monkeys. Other creatures like bushbuck, black-fronted duiker, river hogs, and tree hyraxes can also be encountered.
The park has become a birding destination of note with hundreds of species like the old world warbler, mountain yellow warbler, and white-headed woodhoopoe to be spotted. Reptiles like forest frogs, toads, chameleons, and bush vipers add a special touch.
The Gishwati Mukura National Park is an all year round destination but the best time to visit for optimum wildlife viewing is during the dry season, between December and February and June to August. Most rainfall from March till May and then again in October and November. Moderate daytime temperatures in the mid 20 degrees Celsius can be expected.
Even as one of Rwanda’s newest natural protected areas, the Gishwati Mukura National Park still offers an array of activities apart from wildlife viewing. Close encounters with a handful of primates can be experienced while avid birders will also be kept busy.
Furthermore, expert guides are available to lead visitors on informative and engaging walks. Various cultural excursions can also be arranged, including a tea plantation tour, the making of traditional handicrafts and a visit to a traditional healer to learn more about the use of natural plants in medicine.
The options for accommodation in the Gishwati Mukura National Park are very limited, with only one hotel inside the park and it is foreseen that more facilities will be built in due course. Safari-goers, especially those on a budget, can opt for accommodation in nearby Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Park.