Size of Gishwati-Mukura national park
The size of Gishwati-Mukura national park today is 35.58 sq. km. The national park is made up of 2 separate forests Gishwati and Mukura. Gishwati and Mukura Forest were initially bigger but due to the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the survivors of this attack moved and stayed in this park which was not gazetted by then. They cleared vegetation for settlement and agriculture and this was done for several years until the government of Rwanda decided to chase some people and gazetted the land.
The land was gazetted to protect the remaining species of trees and animals most especially chimpanzees that had found their home in this park on 1st February 2016. A total of 35.58 sq. km was gazetted and as of today, the area is managed by Rwanda Development Board because it’s in charge of the national parks, wilderness safaris that manage the park activities, and Forest of Hope which manages reforestation and conservation of the forest.
Because of the good management, Gishwati-Mukura national park population of chimpanzees has greatly increased, there are over 230 bird species, and the park protects other primates such as golden monkeys which are habituated, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and l’hoest’s monkeys. Getting to Gishwati-Mukura national park takes 2-3 hours from Kigali city using road transport and then 45 minutes using air transport.
Attractions in Gishwati-Mukura national park
Some of the attractions in Gishwati-Mukura national park are the primates. The park is home to several primates that have found their home in the thick forests of Gishwati and Makura. The most known primates in this park are the chimpanzees that have attracted so many travelers to this area. Chimpanzee trekking is the most done activity in this park and there is only 1 fully habituated family which stays in Gishwati forest.
Apart from chimpanzees, other primates include golden monkeys of which some are habituated for tourism activities, vervet monkeys, Angolan colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, l’hoest’s monkeys, and olive baboons. These monkeys are not habituated but can be seen during hiking and nature walks, birding as well as trekking activities.
The other attraction in Gishwati-Mukura national park ae the birds. The park is home to over 230 bird species that live in different areas of the park so it’s the armed ranger guides who know well this park that will lead you through the activity. Birds in this park include Grauer’s swamp warbler, grasshopper buzzard, Ruwenzori Batis, Wood hoopoe, red-faced barbet, Martial Eagle, Strange weave, short-tailed warbler, Dusky Crimsonwing, slaty flycatcher, Ruwenzori Turaco, Red-throated Alethe, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, great blue turaco, and grey crowned crane among others.
Things to do in Gishwati-Mukura national park
Chimpanzee trekking is among the activities that can be done in Gishwati-Mukura national park since some of the chimpanzees here have been habituated for tourism purposes. The chimpanzee trekking activity requires advance booking of permits from Rwanda Development Board most especially if you are intending to visit in the dry season.
Chimpanzee trekking is done with a help of a guide that takes trekkers through different trekking trails looking for these pages. During the search, they are able to meet different park animals, primates, and birds. Once the chimpanzees are located, 1 hour is given to trekkers to be around them, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn about their habits.
This is among the most done activities in Gishwati-Mukura national park. the park has been listed among the best birding spots in Rwanda since it harbors over 230 bird species of which 20 are endemic to the Albertine region. Some of the bird species commonly seen include booted eagle, regal sunbird, cardinal woodpecker, Abyssinian ground-thrush, purple-breasted sunbird, yellow ramped tinker bird, handsome francolin, black-faced apalis, Mountain Yellow Warblers, and Grauer’s swamp warbler.
Other birds seen in this park include grasshopper buzzard, Ruwenzori Batis, Wood hoopoe, red-faced barbet, Martial Eagle, Strange weave, short-tailed warbler, Dusky Crimsonwing, slaty flycatcher, Ruwenzori Turaco, Red-throated Alethe, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, great blue turaco, and grey crowned crane among others.
Golden monkey trekking
This is another activity commonly done in Gishwati-Mukura national park. There is a few populations of golden monkeys in this park and some of them have been habituated for tourism purposes. The activity involves waking up early in the morning to be part of the briefing. Later the armed ranger guides do lead the trekkers into the jungle and ice they located to monkeys, they are given 1 hour to be around them, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn about their habits.
Hiking and nature walks
This is another activity that can be done in Gishwati-Makura national park. hiking and nature walk activities are guided by armed ranger guides who take you through different well-designed trails while protecting you from animals that could be wild. Three trails are commonly used in this park and these are the waterfall trail, Umushwati trail, and Matyazo trail. The activity gives you an opportunity to meet different mammals, primates, birds, plants, and waterfalls such as Kazenenza.
When to visit Gishwati-Makura national park?
Gishwati-Mukura national park can be visited at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest and these are the dry months. They occur from June to September and December to February and are characterized by little or no rainfall that makes the trekking trails less slippery, the roads leading to the park are passable and the vegetation is short giving unclear views of the park animals.
Tourists can still visit Gishwati-Mukura national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities. During these months, there is plenty of rainfall, the vegetation in the park is tall giving unclear views of the animals, the trekking trails are muddy and slippery and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
Where to stay in Gishwati-Mukura national park?
There are accommodation facilities that we do recommend you to spend a night or more while on a safari in Gishwati-Mukura national park. These range from budget to mid-range to luxury options such as Emeraude Kivu Resort, Golden Monkey Hotels, Gishwati Lodge, INZU Lodge, Peace Guest Hotel, KCCCEM Guest House, The Uwinka Campsite, Gisakura Family Hostel, Muhabura Mountain Lodge, and Comoran Lodge among others.