Cultural Tours In Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Are you looking for cultural tours in Gishwati-Mukura national park? The park is located in the western province of Rwanda protecting a number of animals with the famous ones being chimpanzees. There are different tribes of people that stay around Gishwati-Mukura national park with their inspiring heritage that can be encountered together with chimpanzee trekking, birding, and nature walk in the park. Visiting these communities around the park enables you to see how local people live they day to day life, art and craft shops where you buy souvenirs and get entertainment from local people.
Gishwati-Mukura national park works with the nearby communities to promote the culture of Rwanda to tourists from different places of the world. The community visits are led and guided by the local people and at the end of the activity, money collected is given back to the community to help them improve their well-being.
The cultural encounters in Gishwati-Mukura national park involve drivers taking you to the communities where you are welcomed by the local guides and at times traditional dancers. It’s the local guides that lead you through different places in the community such as homesteads, gardens, farms, and much more. Community visits help you to interact with the local people, get to know how they live their day to day life, visit the art and craft shops, and get entertained through dance, drama, songs, and story-telling. During the community tour, you can go around the area seeing different plant species, and visit traditional healers who use these plants as local medicine to cure illness.
Other activities to combine with cultural tours in Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Before or after cultural encounters in Gishwati-Mukura national park, tourists can take part in chimpanzee trekking activity in this part. To be part of the chimpanzee trekking activity, you need to book a chimpanzee trekking permit in advance which will allow you to be part of the activity. These permits are got from Rwanda Development Board or local tour operators at the same fee.
Chimpanzee trekking in Gishwati-Mukura national park does start with a briefing where trekkers must be at the park offices early in the morning to hear from the park wardens. During the briefing, the trekkers are taught about the dos and don’ts of the chimpanzee trekking activity and then armed ranger guides lead them through different trekking trails as they look for the habituated chimpanzees.
During the search, they are able to meet park mammals, primates such as blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, l’hoests monkeys, mongoose, civets, birds, and different plant species. After several hours of searching and locating chimpanzees, trekkers are given 1 hour to be around these apes, watch them do daily activities, take photos while learning about their habits.
Birding is another activity that can be combined with cultural tours in Gishwati-Mukura national park. The activity can be done in the morning or evening hours with a help of a birder guide from the park. There are over 230 bird species in Gishwati-Mukura national park which you can spot in different birding spots. Some of the bird species you are likely to see in Gishwati-Mukura national park include Cardinal woodpecker, purple-breasted sunbird, Regal Sunbird, Grauer’s swamp warbler, booted eagle, Abyssinian ground-thrush, Ruwenzori Batis, Woodhoopoe, and grasshopper buzzard.
Other bird species include black-faced apalis, red-faced barbet, Martial Eagle, short-tailed warbler, handsome francolin, strange weaver, Dusky Crimsonwing, yellow ramped tinker bird, slaty flycatcher, Red-throated Alethe, Ruwenzori Turaco, Mountain Yellow Warbler, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, grey crowned crane, and great blue turaco among others.
Golden monkey trekking
This is another activity that can be combined with cultural tours in Gishwati-Mukura national park. The activity starts with a briefing at a park headquarters where trekkers learn about the dos and don’ts of the activity before armed range guides lead them into the jungle. During the search, the trekkers are able to meet different park mammals, primates, birds, and different plant species but when they meet the golden monkeys, they are able to learn about their habits, take photos and watch them do daily activities such as hunting, nesting, feeding, and coupling among others.
Hiking and nature walks
There are hiking and nature walk activities in Gishwati-Mukura national park so you can combine the activity with cultural tours around the park. Hiking and nature walks are guided activities that are done in the different hiking trails such as waterfall trail, Umushwati trail, and Matyazo trail. The activity is guided by armed ranger guides who protect you around from dangerous animals around the park.
The hiking and nature walk activities give tourists an opportunity to encounter different park animals such as civets, duikers, blue monkeys, l’hoests monkeys, vervet monkeys, Angolan colobus monkeys, birds, and different plant species. The nature walks also lead you to different waterfalls in the park among which include Kazenenza waterfall.
What is the best time to have cultural tours in Gishwati-Mukura National Park ?
Cultural encounters in Gishwati-Mukura national park can be done at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The drier months are the best to have cultural encounters around Gishwati-Mukura national park and these occur from June to September and December to February. These months are characterized by little or no rainfall which leaves the roads leading to the park passable, the walking trails around the communities less muddy and the trekking trails in the park are dry.
Tourists can still do cultural encounters around Gishwati-Mukura national park in the rainy season which occurs from March to May and October to November. During the rainy season, there is plenty of rainfall which makes the roads leading to the communities impassable, the trekking trails in the park and walking trails around the communities are muddy and slippery. Heavy rainfall can delay the activity.
Accommodation on cultural tours in Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Tourists coming for cultural encounters in Gishwati-Mukura national park don’t have to worry about where they will stay after the activity. Gishwati Lodge is the only accommodation facility in Gishwati-Mukura national park that tourists can use bit there are other accommodation facilities that are built outside the lodge and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury options such as Emeraude Kivu Resort, Golden Monkey Hotels, INZU Lodge, Peace Guest Hotel, KCCCEM Guest House, The Uwinka Campsite, Gisakura Family Hostel, Muhabura Mountain Lodge, and Comoran Lodge among others.
Accessing Gishwati-Mukura national park
Gishwati-Mukura national park can be accessed using air transport from Kigali international airport to Gisenyi airstrip which is located a few kilometers from the park. Chattered flights are operated by Akagera aviation which does domestic flights in the country. Flying from Kigali to Gisenyi takes about 45 minutes and it’s from there that you can use ground transport to the park.
Travelers who cannot afford flights to Gishwati-Mukura national park can use road transport from Kigali city which takes 2-3 hours. From Kigali city, you will drive to Rubavu, to Kivu to Rusizi to the park taking you 2-3 hours. The journey is somehow long but gives travelers an opportunity to explore hills, plantations, lakes, rivers, homesteads, and different local people.