Lying in the districts of Rutsiro and Ngororero- Western Rwanda, Gishwati-Mukura National Park is the newly created Park in the Land of a Thousand Hills. Gishwati-Mukura National Park was officially established in 2015 as a National Park in Rwanda and it combines two forest reserves: Gishwati Forest and Mukura Forest Reserve.
Its creation in 2015 makes it the 4th National Park in Rwanda. Unlike other rainforest parks like Nyungwe Forest National Park, Gishwati-Mukura National Park is a compact Protected Area with boundaries stretching to cover only 34sq.kms. Gishwati Forest spreads on a land area of 14.3972sq.kms and Mukura Forest is 198774sq.kms.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is a naturally rich tropical forest park, housing a range of wildlife especially primates, reptiles, birds. The primates in Gishwati-Mukura include l’hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons, 20 chimpanzees, and golden monkeys. Other wildlife of importance Gishwati-Mukura protects include the Southern 3 hyrax, Red river hogs, chameleon, bushbucks, tree hyraxes, black-fronted duikers, serval cats, etc.
Over 232 bird species live in Gishwati-Mukura National Park making it one of the important birding areas in Rwanda. These include Albertine endemic birds and several forest birds. The park’s birds include the red-throated alethe, Rwenzori turacos, strange weavers, martial eagles, purple breasted sunbirds, old world warblers, white headed wood hoopoes, grey crowned cranes, mountain yellow warblers, stripe breasted tit, to mention but a few.
Things to do while in Gishwati-Mukura National Park Rwanda
Gishwati-Mukura National Park chimpanzee trekking isn’t developed like it is in Nyungwe Forest National Park or Uganda’s Kibale National Park. This is a newly introduced activity tourists on Rwanda safaris can indulge in while at Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
On a search for chimpanzees, there are more other primates to see including the colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons plus birds. Chimpanzee trekking in Gishwati-Mukura allows you to have a deep understanding of the daily behaviors of chimpanzees, feeding habits, and taking pictures.
A total of 232 bird species make Gishwati-Mukura National Park a special birding area worth visiting on Rwanda safaris. The park is home to several Albertine rift endemic birds and a birding tour here offers you a great chance of sighting birds such as mountain yellow warblers, martial eagles, wood hoopoes, Rwenzori turacos, strange weavers, red-throated alethe, purple breasted sunbird, regal sunbirds, stripe breasted tit and many others.
The best time to go birding in Gishwati-Mukura is during the wet months of the year- breeding season and also the period when migratory birds can be sighted in the different habitats in the Park. On an actual birding tour, don’t forget to come with pair of binoculars, or in case you don’t have to hire one plus a good camera.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is an excellent location that nature lovers should consider for all on-foot-walk experiences such as guided nature walks. The day-guided nature walk in this park is a great opportunity for you to keep an eye on a range of primates including black and white colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, blue monkeys, plus birds. The birds of interest in Gishwati-Mukura include old world warblers, Rwenzori turacos, weaver birds, martial eagles, Ruwenzori batis, regal sunbird, purple breasted sunbirds, grey crowned cranes, and more.
Visit the nearby local communities to explore and experience the unique cultures, and traditions of Rwandese. There are plenty of eco-tourism activities carried out in the local communities adjacent to Gishwati-Mukura aimed at boosting wildlife conservation. You can engage in craft making or hands-on food preparation with guidance.
It is also possible to engage in a cycling or biking tour through the Congo Nile Trail. The trail takes you via the scenic shores of Lake Kivu and connects to Nyungwe Forest. The Congo Nile trail is a short distance away from Gishwati-Mukura and provides the actual rural experience- discover what the rural African setting is like.
When is the best time to go tour Gishwati-Mukura National Park?
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is open for tourism any day, month or year. However, the dry season from June to September/December-February experiences the best weather conditions making it the best to go to Rwanda safaris. Birding safaris are enjoyable during the wet or rainy months of the year, especially November and April.
Where to stay
Gishwati-Mukura National Park has fewer accommodation facilities compared to other primate safari parks in Rwanda like Volcanoes National Park or Nyungwe Forest National Park. Gishwati Lodge is currently the only luxury accommodation available for Rwanda safari travelers visiting the park for chimpanzee tracking or birding safaris.
Getting to Gishwati-Mukura NP Rwanda
Accessing Gishwati-Mukura National Park Rwanda is easier by road and using a 4×4 vehicle. It takes just 2-3 hours to drive from Kigali city to Gishwati-Mukura or you can start from Kabale/Kisoro and drive through Katuna or Chanika to Rwanda.