An Expert Travel Guide For Visiting Gishwati Mukura National Park – A Hidden Gem Of Rwanda

An Expert Travel Guide For Visiting Gishwati Mukura National Park – A Hidden Gem Of Rwanda

Rwanda National Parks

Many travelers to Rwanda only know about the Volcanoes, Akagera, and Nyungwe National Parks.  But, there exists another hidden gem in the northwest of Rwanda near the Lake Kivu region. Gishwati Mukura National Park is the latest and fourth addition to the already popular list of Rwanda National Parks.

Gishwati Mukura National Park comprises the larger Gishwati rainforest and the smaller Mukura rainforest. Both are separated by a buffer zone of around 30 miles. As this Park has been opened to the public only recently in 2020, many tour operators forget to add this to their itineraries.

But, we don’t want our travelers to miss a chance to witness Rwanda’s amazing creatures and destinations. So, make sure you add this spectacularly protected area to your itinerary next time you book a Rwanda Safari Tour.

Table of Contents Best time to Visit the Gishwanti Mukura National Park.  Getting to the Gishwati- Mukura National Park Where to stay while visiting the National Park? Activities for tourists visiting the Park Attractions inside and around the park  What to Expect when you visit Gishwati Mukura National Park?

Best Time To Visit The Gishwanti Mukura National Park

Rwanda is a mountainous country. It enjoys a tropical equatorial climate with temperatures remaining consistent all through the year. The guided tour to the National Park of Gishwanti-Mukura is open all year round.

But, we recommend our guests should time their visit to the newest National Park from June to September. This is the warm dry peak season in Rwanda. The rainfall is minimum and bookings for Rwanda Safari Tours are done well in advance. 

The dry season of June to September is best for hiking activities. The rainy season of October to May is good for Chimp trekking and Forest birding.

An overview of Gishwati- Mukura National Park around the dry season and the wet season is described below:

                  Dry Season                 Wet Season
June to September Best time for hiking. The sun shines bright and breaks through the clouds. Bring your light clothes along during the warm season.October to MayBest time for bird watching.Rains interfere with the activities as it gets slippery. Pack your rain-proof clothes mandatorily if you visit at this time.

Getting to the Gishwati- Mukura National Park

Transportation via road is the most preferred mode of communication to get to the Gishwati- Mukura National Park. The National Park is located on the main road between Rubavu and Karongi. So, visitors can easily access it.

Most visitors to Rwanda land at Kigali International Airport (KGL). From the capital, you can take a 4-hour drive to Rubavu-Karongi Road to reach the park.

The park office is located on the main road at the edge of the forest. All the activities are booked at the park office.

Where to stay while visiting the National Park?

Presently, the only accommodation option that is available in the park is the Forest of Hope Guest House and Camp Site.

Guest House:

This guest house offers 2 en-suite rooms with 2 twin beds along with mosquito nets. Other facilities include hot water, WIFI, electricity, and a private terrace with views over the forest. 

Guest house rates include everything from park fees, any community visits, and the prices of 3 meals per day including drinks.

Campsites:

Self-catering guests and budget travelers can accommodate themselves in the guest house’s attached campsite.

The facilities that are available in the campsite are toilets and showers, a small fire pit and barbeque stand and water for cooking and cleaning.

Other Options:

Otherwise, visitors can go to the nearby town, Rubavu. Rubavu is around 40 minutes drive away from the Park. There are many accommodation options in form of hotels near Lake Kivu.

Visitors are requested to go for advance bookings for both Guest Houses and Campsites to avoid any last-minute rush.

Activities for tourists visiting the Park

Since Gishwati- Mukura is a National Park, all the activities are booked and arranged by the park office.  There are many interesting activities in the park including hiking and chimpanzee trekking. The visitors to the park get to explore its rich biodiversity and track the unique species present in the park.

Chimpanzee Trekking

  • The main attraction of the Gishwati- Mukura is around 35 eastern chimpanzees.

Once classified as endangered in IUCN Red List, this species has been brought back from extinction in Gishwati- Mukura.

  • But these groups of Chimpanzees have not been habituated to humans and will be scared if you approach them. 
  • Having said that, it’s indeed a joyful experience just to spot the Chimpanzees resting, jumping, and walking on branches of trees.

Hiking

  • Gishwati forest has several hiking trails where travelers get to see different animals, insects, and plants in the forest.
  • There are three marked trails in the Gishwati Forest to date. They are
  • The Umushwati Trail (5-mile trek) – to connect either of the park trails.
  • The waterfall Trail (4-mile trek)- connects to waterfalls in Gishwati
  • Matyazo Hill Trail (2-mile) – steep trek ascending to the hilltop with beautiful forest views atop.

Birding

  • The National Park offers a unique bird-watching experience. There are over 200 species present in the park which makes it a “Great Birders’ Destination”.
  • There are approximately 20 species of birds that are endemic to the Albertine Rift valley.
  • Generally, professional guides accompany visitors during birding tours. The visitors are given a birding list and a map with recommended trails to explore the unique birding habitat.

Golden Monkey Trekking

  • Golden monkeys are one of the most famous primates found in Gishwati- Mukura National Park. They are found in large groups throughout the forest.
  • Visitors are asked to start early with their guides in order to locate these interesting animals.
  • Tracking the primate is a fascinating experience. You get to know about their whole life in the wilderness.

Attractions Inside And Around The Gishwati- Mukura National Park

The forests of Gishwati-National Park are known for their biodiversity. The key attractions of this place are the significant flora and fauna including the wild animals and birds exclusive to the place.

Some of the key attractions of this place along with the activity it offers for tourists are given below:

              Key Attractions             Activity
        Animals        Key animals: Eastern Chimpanzees and Golden Monkey                             Trekking
Other animals: Mountain monkeys, side-striped jackals, frogs, Chameleons, African civets, serval, and genet.  Wildlife Exploration
                    Birds Sunbirds, Turacos, Ravens, Handsome francolin, Grey-crowned crane, Martial Eagle                                  Birding
                      TrailsRiverside Trail (corridor from Gishwati to Mukura)Trekking, Hiking, Camping, and Birding
Waterfall Trail, Umushwati & Matyazo hill trailsHiking and Biking
Mukura Bike TrailBiking and Hiking
           Waterfalls  Pfunda & Sebeya rivers  Hiking and wildlife exploration  
Satinsyi, Rucanzogera & Secoko Rivers  Hiking and wildlife exploration

What to Expect when you visit Gishwati Mukura National Park?

Some Rwanda Travel Tips for our visitors coming for Rwanda Safari Tours are highlighted below.

Fees: The visitors to the Gishwati- Mukura National Park stay at the Forest of Hope Guest House. They are charged $250 per person. For the campers, the prices start at $70 per day. The fees include the prices for all activities, accommodation, and meals.  

Currency: Rwandan Francs is the main currency used for paying for any services. If carrying US dollars, Euros, and Pound, get them exchanged in Forex Bureau. The good thing is that hotels accept payment in US dollars.

Banks, Cards, and ATMs: Banks can be accessed in the nearby Rubavu and Karongi towns. They are open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. VISA, Master, and American Express cards are accepted at ATM machines.  

Languages spoken: Kinyarwanda, English, French and Swahili.  

Shopping: Visitors can avail beautiful handcrafts, local products, and souvenirs at the park reception center and community exhibition center, and nearby shops. You can also experience African and Rwandan art galleries, their culture, and food in the nearby towns.   

Health & Safety: The park officials make sure that no visitor who visits the National Park has contracted any communicable disease within 48 hours prior to arriving at the park. During the trip, the guide carries the first aid kit and important contact numbers of the support staff in case of any medical emergencies.  

Hopefully, this read has informed you know more about the less-explored National Park of Rwanda, Gishwati Mukura.

Do write to us to know more about this hidden gem of Rwanda.  And if you want to visit it, then Contact our safari experts at Saso Uganda Safaris for Rwanda Safari Tours.

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