GISHWATI-MUKURA NATIONAL PARK
Welcome to Gishwati Mukura National Park in Rwanda! Find where to stay, the tourist activities, when to visit this park and how to get there, tour operators and so much more.
Gishwati-Mukura National park is the 4th and Rwanda’s newest National Park; famously known for its diverse plant species; over 60 species of trees like the bamboo and wood and a big number of Rwanda safari wildlife species; around 84 bird species. It is located in Ngororero and Rutsiro districts in the country’s Western province; covering an area of about 3,558 hectares. This park would have run extinct since during the 1994 genocide whereby most people left the country others went to the borders of the country; hence some ended up occupying the Gishwati and Mukura areas; they carried out farming, deforestation and illegal mining. Gishwati and Mukura are forests. In September 2015 a law was passed to have a joint National Park, hence the Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
In February 2016 the park was gazetted with the aim that it will be one of the parks contributing to the tourism industry of Rwanda hence formed to protect and keep animals from getting extinct and wondering off. The park is home to different animals and primate species have been spotted by conservationists such as Chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkeys, blue monkeys, golden monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys.
The park can be accessed by road or by air and while on road public or private cars can be used, though it is advisable you book through a tour operator. Also the park can be visited on a joint safari from Uganda after visiting the world’s Endangered Mountain Gorillas, you can travel fro Uganda by road, have a sleep over in Kigali and drive from Kigali to the park in the morning.
The park has a small number of accommodation facilities to spend a night at. And some of them can be the same used while on a visit to Nyungwe forest but the most recommended one on a visit to Gishwati-Mukura is the Gishwati lodge and also there are campsites for budget travelers.
Gishwati lodge is comprised of 6 rustic forest lodges and the visitor gets both an adventurous and luxurious essence. While staying there you will have an opportunity to enjoy a quick access to the chimpanzees and golden monkeys.
Other Parks To Visit in Rwanda include Nyungwe Forest National Park which is famous for primates, Volcanoes National Park where gorilla tracking in Rwanda is done and Akagera National Park for wildlife animals.
How To Get There
The park is located in the North-West of Rwanda not far from Lake Kivu, Volcanoes National Park and DR Congo approximately 27km from Volcanoes National park, about 2-3hours drive from Kigali; the Capital of Rwanda. the forest reserve of Gishwati is found in Ruhango, Muhonyi, Kigeyo, and Nyabirasi which are sectors of Rutsiro District.
You can access the park by road; this can be from Kigali or Volcanoes National Park (that is if you are on a combined trip of these two parks). While traveling by road you can hire a comfortable car or use public means which is a bus (but it takes you long to arrive).
One can also fly to the park. Remember you cannot walk to the park because there you would need a lot of time and it’s exhausting and tiresome.
The journey begins in Kigali, and as you travel to the Northwest you will go through different towns, with spectacular views of hills, the road is quite good. For those that would love to drive themselves there should ensure to follow the road rules since there are sharp turns, and read sign posts for clear directions. Also be advised that a car is driven on the right while in Rwanda.
Travelling to Gishwati-Mukura shouldn’t be so difficult especially if you plan very well. Ensure that you enjoy your journey to the maximum, so you can hire a car or make your bookings through us and have yourself an unforgettable experience in Rwanda!
Best time to Visit
Rwanda as a country can be visited throughout the year because of its seasonal weather conditions and so is Gishwati-Mukura National Park; it has an amazing temperate climate. Gishwati-Mukura experiences two wet seasons and two dry seasons. In most cases visitors are advised to visit the park during the long dry season and regarded as the best season which is from June September. There is also a shorter dry season that is between mid-December and mid-February, it is also a good time for safari.
Why it is advisable to visit the park during the long dry season it’s because most activities such as chimpanzee tracking, birding, nature walks and hikes can be best enjoyed during this time. Also most wildlife is best viewed during this time. During the dry season there is no problem of encountering muddy tracks, also bugs and mosquitoes are lesser.
The dry season in Gishwati-Mukura is also the best season because it corresponds with the summer months in some countries like UK, North America, and Europe since most schools are closed and children are off for holidays, so it is a beneficial time for families to have vacations in areas like Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
Long rains are received from mid-February to May, short rains start from October to mid-December which makes it three months. So during this season, there are also visitors that come to the park. During this time locating some species especially the primates may take less time since most of them are nearer looking for food and shelter, also the vegetation is lush so amazing to view.
One thing to note is you will be moving through rainforests with tropical climate, so day time temperature ranges between 25°C and 27°C while at night it drops to 13.5°C or 16°C.
Things To Do
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is endowed with a number of attractions and activities and most of them are seen and done on foot, they provide an unforgettable and adventurous experience that you will take with you home after the amazing safari.
Most attractions in the park are animal species, birds and the vegetation cover of which there are over 58 tree species. The park is among the areas with a high population of chimpanzees; these are human’s close relatives, hence most of these have been habituated and are available for tracking. Other attractions are the surrounding communities which have unique ethics and cultures, the golden monkeys, mountain monkeys, blue monkeys among others. Your African safari will be made up of amazing and memorable experiences in the “land of a thousand hills”-Rwanda!
The park also has a number of tourist activities to offer to the visitors such as;
This park is among the top birding spots of Rwanda, birding can be done on foot through the jungle, over 84 bird species stay there. It being small is an added advantage to birding since it makes it easy to watch birds.
As earlier said a number of primate species like the Chimpanzees, baboons, the Blue monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Golden monkeys and other animals like the duikers and cats live in the park. While in the park you can be able to track chimpanzees and golden monkeys since there are a number of them that are habituated.
Since the Gishwati-Mukura was occupied by people, as the government and other conservationists tried to revive it again, they had to come up with ways in which the surrounding communities could benefit from tourism hence coming up with products such as traditional healing, dance and drama and handcraft making.
Nature walks and Hiking
There are a number of trails in the park which are used for guided walks and hiking by tourists through the forests. This gives visitors a great view of the beauty of this park while on foot and also some hidden wildlife like butterflies and birds can be spotted during hikes.
Gishwati Mukura National Park Accommodation
Being a new National Park; a few accommodation facilities have been established within and near Gishwati-Mukura National Park. The best facility so far to have an overnight stay is Gishwati lodge which is a great dwelling to combine adventure, luxury and conservation while on a visit to Gishwati-Mukura National Park. It is a luxurious lodge with great views of the beautiful landscape of the park; also activities like chimpanzee tacking, nature walks, photography and bird watching can be well enjoyed by visitors staying at the lodge.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is a wonderful park with diverse plant and animal species including over 84 bird species and over 5 species of primates such as chimpanzees, blue monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons, golden monkeys and other animals like the Red river hogs, bush bucks among others, also butterflies can be found in this park. Formed in 2015 after joining two forests Gishwati and Mukura covering an area of about 34.3 Sq km. A number of activities can be done while there such as nature walks/hikes, cultural encounters, bird watching and Chimpanzee tracking hence Gishwati-Mukura is a place not to miss out while on a Rwandan safari.
Gishwati lodge is an extraordinary and comfortable lodge that provides visitors with an adventurous and elegant feeling; in other wards it is a home away from home. The staff is well skilled and the food served is just tasty.
This luxurious eco-lodge has 6 rustic cottages that accommodate 12 guests; it is a sister property to Bisate lodge located in the habitat of the endangered Gorillas-Volcanoes National Park. This is a great opportunity of you having a combined encounter of the World’s amazing Apes; the Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas. Meaning be among the first visitors to spend an overnight at this lodge where you will be able to do both Chimp tracking and Gorilla tracking staying in sister properties.
In conclusion, Gishwati lodge is the perfect base/start point for visiting habituated golden monkeys and chimpanzees in their natural habitat within the Gishwati-Mukura. The park also has campsites which are in favor also for the budget travelers in for camping