Gishwati Mukura National Park
Gishwati Mukura National Park is Rwanda’s newly established national park joining the other three older and established national parks of the country is Volcanoes national park located in the northwestern part of Rwanda, Nyungwe forest national park located in the south western part of the country and Akagera national park that is a 2 hour transfer from Kigali located in the north eastern part of Rwanda.
Gishwati Mukura national park is now Rwanda’s fourth national park and was established as a national park in 2005. The Gishwati Mukura national park is located in between the Volcanoes national park and the Nyungwe forest national park that is near the Lake Kivu region. This park has two different forests within its boundaries that is Gishwati forest that is the larger one and the Mukura forest that is abit smaller thus its name originating from the two forests.
Gishwati Mukura national park is a large national park that covers up to 34 square kilometers including the buffer zone as well. This national park being established recently doesn’t mean that it has not been existent as the forest reserves have been undisturbed and unmanaged since the 1978. The Gishwati and the Mukura forests however were hiding places for the people of Rwanda during the 1994 Rwanda genocide which in the long run led to distraction and cutting down of trees by the refugees to settle in the region and do some subsistence farming to support their families.
The two forests of the Gishwati Mukura national park lie on the ridge that separates the Democratic Republic of Congo and the River Nile water catchment areas and this is along the Albertine Rift in the western part of the country. The biodiversity of the forests of the part is rich with about 60 different tree species inclusive of the indigenous hardwood trees and the bamboo trees. This would be an ideal destination for the travellers interested in the nature of an area or looking for a study on the flora of the region. Take on a nature walk on your visit to this park for a chance to identify a number of different plant species.
The Gishwati Mukura national park is a home to some of the Rwanda’s primates like a chimpanzee family of 20 chimpanzee individuals living in the forest co-habitating with the other primates like the golden monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys and the blue monkeys which means you can visit this national park for chimpanzee trekking and other primates trekking. These activities are newly introduced in the park after it was recently recognized as a national park and was ready for tourism activities. This becomes the second national park in Rwanda that offers the chimpanzee trek and other primates’ trek after the Nyungwe forest national park. The Nyungwe forest national park was previously the only park in Rwanda where you could visit for the chimpanzee trekking experience.
Gishwati Mukura national park is also an ideal destination for the travellers looking for birding experience as the park has recorded a great number of bird species within its boundaries. The Gishwati forest has recorded 232 bird species spotted in the forest and the Mukura forest has recorded 163 different bird species spotted in the forest with the majority of thes bird species being Albertine Rift Endemic species that is the Grauers’s broadbill, the Rwenzori batis, Grauer’swarbler, Shelley’s crimsonwing, rockefeller’s sunbird to mention but a few.
After the refugee settlement in this national park, the area was faced with misuse and the resources of the park were getting depleted mainly because of the human settlement, subsistence and livestock farming while other individuals were carrying out illegal mining in this mineral rich forest. A team of dedicated and knowledgeable botanists specializing in forestry are currently on ground working to reverse the effects on the area and restore the resources.
The definition of the Gishwati Mukura national park in 2015 as a national park has and will surely help the area to naturally regain its natural state. The number of trees, the fertility of the soil and the flow of the stream are all expected to stabilize with time. The tourism activities in the Gishwati Mukura national park started in 2019 with guided nature walks, guided chimpanzee trekking, monkey tracking, bird watching and hike to the waterfalls.
The tourism in the area is expected to bring positive impact to the local community living around the park as well. The local community will have market for their local produce and also a percentage of the revenue collected from the park will be put in the social services of the community around the park improving their livelihoods.
On your visit to the Gishwati Mukura national park, you can also engage in community based activities like stay at a farm, engage in the cultural dance, participate in the handicrafts making, take a part in the beekeeping, visit a tea plantation or even go a step further to learn about natural plants used as medicines. Get in touch with us to plan your tour to Gishwati Mukura national park.