Overview – Gishwati-Mukura NP
Gazetted in 2015, Gishwati-Mukura is Rwanda’s newest national park. It consists of the Gishwati and Mukura forests, which are about 25km apart in western Rwanda. The main attraction is a troop of habituated chimpanzees. Other primates include golden monkey, blue monkey and l'Hoest's monkey. As of late 2018, there was no accommodation or other tourist development in the park, but it’s likely the development of a new luxury/upmarket lodge on the fringes of the Gishwati sector of the park will occur soon.
Pros & Cons
- New, off-the-beaten-track destination
- Opportunity to support an important conservation initiative
- Chimp trekking available
- Can be visited as a day trip from several nearby cities
- Good birding with several Albertine Rift endemics
- Limited trails and activities available
- Forest is degraded
- No accommodation at present
- Chimps are less habituated than in more established places
The forest is home to chimpanzees, l'Hoest's monkeys and the charismatic golden monkeys, which are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Other small mammals include tree hyrax and black-fronted duiker. Although there hasn’t been any recent research, the new park looks like a promising bird-watching destination as well. Specials include 14 Albertine Rift endemics, including Rwenzori turaco and red-throated alethe. Note that walking trails are limited, and no official activities were being offered as of early 2019. It is, however, possible to enter parts of the forest and see how the conservation efforts are progressing.
The primary forest is interspersed with varying tracts of degraded and regenerating forest.
Weather & Climate
The weather and climate of Gishwati-Mukura is comparable to that of Rwanda in general. More info:
Best Time to Visit
Gishwati-Mukura can be visited throughout the year, but the wet months from October to May are the best for chimp trekking and forest birding. General hiking might be easier in the drier months from June to September.
Gishwati-Mukura NP is easily accessible. Gishwati Forest is located on a newly surfaced road 85km from Kigali, 40km from Rubavu and 55km from Musanze. The park can easily be visited on a drive-around tour of the country. The undeveloped Mukura sector of the park is some 35km east of Karongi, reached along dirt roads.
Health & Safety
Please read our vaccinations and malaria page for Rwanda, and our general wildlife viewing safety precautions page for more info:
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Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.
Watch this space…
It looks like the Rwandan government might have stepped in just in time to save Gishwati-Mukura. What was once 2500km2 of primary rainforest in western Rwanda has diminished to just 35km2 today, suffering through illegal mining, human...