Gishwati-Mukura National Park

With the gazzeting of this Park on 1st  February 2016, the number of National parks in Rwanda have increased to 4 National parks (the others include Volcanoes, Akagera and Nyungwe Forest national parks). This park is situated in the far North-western side of Rwanda, and was created by combining the Gishwati Forest Reserve (1,440 hectares) and Mukura Forest Reserve (1,988 hectares) in 2015 hence Gishwati-Mukura National Park and currently the park’s buffer Zone covers a total surface Area of 992 hectares. When it was first discovered, it covered over 250,000 hectares but reduced to just 28,000 hectares in the 1980s mainly because of the uncontrolled human encroachment resulting from settlement, animal grazing, illegal mining, lumbering and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide among others. The good news however is that several efforts are being implemented by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) to restore the Forest Reserves.

This Park is one of the richest National Parks in Rwanda in terms of biological diversity, because it is a home to several mammal species including primate species such as include Eastern Chimpanzees (there are about 20 Chimps within this Park), L’Hoest’s monkeys, Golden Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, the Black and White Colobus monkeys, other mammal species include the Black-fronted duikers, the serval, the southern tree hyrax and Red river Hogs among others.

There are also over 130 bird species in this Park that includes the Mountain-yellow warblers, Woodhoopes Old world warblers, and there are over 60 incredible tree species including Macaranga Kilimandscharica, Carapa Grandiflora, the Giant tree ferns, the Bamboo, Blue Lichens and the Indigenous Hardwoods.

What to do within Gishwati-Mukura National Park

Chimpanzee tracking

With over 20 chimpanzees in this park, it is undoubtedly one of the main chimpanzee destinations in Rwanda. With this small population, this park provides a unique chimpanzee tracking experience.

Hiking through the Congo Nile Trail

This Park is situated within the edge of the Congo Nile Trail (in Western Rwanda). Tourists can engage in this riveting adventure to explore several rural villages that will provide tourists with an understanding of a typical Rwandan rural life.

Bird watching

So far 130 species of birds including 15 Albertine Rift endemic bird species and 2 IUCN Vulnerable bird species have been recorded in this park. Some of the notable bird species in this park that will bow your mind include the White-headed Woodhoopoe, Ruwenzori Turaco, Red-throated Alethe, Old World Warblers, Stripe-breasted Tit, Ruwenzori Batis, Mountain-yellow warblers, the Grey Crowned Crane, Strange Weaver, Woodhoopoes, Regal Sunbird and Purple-breasted Sunbird among other interesting bird species.

Nature walks/hiking

With these interesting tourist attractions within the Park, tourists can engage in guided nature walks to be able to discover some of the unique primate species, one of the 130 bird species, butterflies and some of the 60 tree species found within the National park. Tourists can also choose butterfly watching and identification as an independent activity to be able to have a deep understanding of these interesting creatures. Nature walks can also be conducted within the villages so that tourists can explore some of the unique way of life of the local community members.

How to reach Gishwati-Mukura National park

This park is found in the North-western side of Rwanda and shared by Rubavu, Ngororero, Nyabihu and Rutsiro districts of Rwanda, and is situated in four sectors of Rutsiro district that include Kigeyo, Nyabirasi, Mushonyi  and Ruhango.

In conclusion, with the creation of Gishwati-Mukura National park in 2016, the number of National Parks in Rwanda has increased to 4 Park hence tourists have more things to do in Rwanda. Some of the interesting tourist activities can engage in from this Park include chimpanzee tracking, nature walks and bird watching among others.