Nyungwe Canopy Walk
There was a calm silence inside the bus. Apparently, the drive from Kigali had taken its toll and the initial boisterousness had subsided. In fact, some of us had dozed off as we as we entered the Nyungwe Forest National Park, one of the natural treasures of the beautiful country of Rwanda. It was late afternoon and the rain washed road glistened in front of us and the verdant green foliage around seemed as if it had been meticulously polished till it glistened. We looked forward to yet another adventure in Rwanda, the Nyunwe Canopy Walk, which is another unmissable highlight of any visit to Rwanda apart from the Gorilla Trekking in the Volcanoes National Park.
We soon arrived at the Uwinka Visitor Centre which is one of the tourist information centers in the Nyungwe National Park.
As we trooped out of the bus and breathed in the intoxicating and invigorating forest air, little did we realize the experience that awaited us! The Uwinka Visitor Centre itself was a place where information regarding the Nyungwe National Park was disseminated. Information regarding the various trails that were available in the Nyungwe Forest National Park, their degree of difficulty, and the time required was available.
As we looked around us we were once again struck by the remarkable way that the small East African country of Rwanda was focussed on living in harmony with nature and promoting sustainable tourism. Whether it be the cities like Kigali, the Volcanoes National Park, the Akagera National Park, or any of the many villages that we passed through the entire country seemed to be seamlessly integrated with nature.
So it is no surprise that HE Paul Kagame, the President of the United Republic of Rwanda is going to be honoured with the World Tourism Award 2017 for his visionary leadership and policies of sustainable tourism and wildlife conservation.The award will be bestowed at the annual World Tourism Awards ceremony on the opening day of the World Travel Market in London on November 6, 2017.
The Nyungwe Canopy Walk Experience
At the Uwinka Visitor Centre, we were briefed about the trail that would take us to the Nyungwe Canopy Walk and were handed our sticks which would really come in handy as we later realized.
We started off in high spirits reveling in the sheer pleasure of being amidst pristine nature. The trail was one of descent and we followed a narrow trail which was moist and slippery owing to the recent rains. As we descended deeper and deeper into the Nyungwe forest, the excitement within us seemed to build up to a crescendo. In the stillness of the forest, the loudest noise that could be heard was probably the thumping of our hearts!
Strange but sweet sounds of birds punctuated the stillness of the forest.
Nyungwe National Park happens to be a paradise for bird watchers. With more than 310 species of birds it a very important ornithological site in Rwanda. 27 Albertine Rift Endemics can be found here which is the highest concentration in Africa.
We gingerly put our feet forward, using our sticks to balance ourselves. The difficulty level of the trail was easy for people who are fit. However, if your fitness levels are not all that great and you are not sure footed, the trail can be challenging and especially so if it is raining or has just rained.
It took us about 2 hours of walking down across a slippery trail to reach the Canopy Walkway. Though it was a bit challenging for feet attuned to walking on the paved streets of cities, we all enjoyed the experience to the hilt. The trek from Uwinka Reception Centre offers an excellent opportunity to feast your eyes on the spectacular spectacle that nature unfolds before you. If you are lucky you may have some exciting wildlife sightings of primates including monkeys like L’Hoest’s monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Black and White Colobus and of course a wide range of birds.
“There it is! I shouted like a schoolboy sighting the school bus after school is over.”
The Nyungwe Canopy Walk stretched out in front of us to a length of 200 meters.
Not really difficult or scary!
Think again, it is suspended in mid-air at a height of about 60 meters over a steep chasm, and if you bring yourself to peer down, you will see the rich and verdant forest stretching below. If you are prone to acrophobia or fear of heights, then the 200-meter walk may sound like a walk into eternity. On top of that, the walkway will swing from side to side as you struggle to hang on.
But of course, the Nyungwe Canopy Walk is completely safe and there is absolutely no chance of anyone falling down.
You may have seen images for Nyungwe Canopy Walk, but they will be nothing compared to what it really is. The Nyungwe Canopy Walk was indeed a very exciting experience and an adventure in itself. But what was more exhilarating was the view from the Canopy Walkway.
If you looked down the bewitching Nyungwe forest stretches out in green splendor, colorful birds fly around and you may also spot monkeys hopping from tree to tree. You are literally transported to a world that you would have thought existed only in the realms of dreams or in the fertile imagination of artists.
Then our gaze wandered westwards towards the sky. White clouds floated speedily as if racing with us, it was time for the sun to set and the sky had turned into shades of crimson. As we stood watching transfixed, this rhapsody of nature unfolding before us, we lost all sense of time and place and felt one with the forest, the sky, the clouds, and the setting sun. It was as if our beings were merged with the vast expanse of infinite nature that stretched before us.
But alas! the spell had to be broken and we made our way back across the Nyungwe Canopy Walk to negotiate the trail that would lead us back to the Uwinka Reception Centre. The trail was now upwards and presented its own challenges, also it became dark and the forest assumed an eerie atmosphere, the same sounds that had seemed so sweet and ethereal earlier assumed eerie proportions as we climbed back step by step towards our destination. After a couple of brief stopovers to regain our breath we reached the Uwinka Visitor Centre. The Nyungwe Canopy Walk was over, it now seemed like a surreal dream, an experience that we would cherish for a long, long time.
We were tired physically, but our spirits felt strangely uplifted and we felt ready and raring to go Chimpanzee trekking in the Cyamudongo forest which is the best place to see chimpanzees in Rwanda. This was the schedule lined up for the next morning.
Tips for Doing The Nyungwe Canopy Walk In Rwanda
- Be sure you have the right footwear, hiking shoes or boots are a must
- Rain is always round the corner, hence be prepared with a raincoat
- Don’t say no to a walking stick, it is going to be quite useful
- Do not forget your camera, you will end up taking plenty of photos
- Keep additional memory cards, batteries, power banks handy as you are likely to run out of memory and charge as you are sure to go on a clicking spree
- Do not take anything from the forest except pictures and lovely memories
- If you are traveling to Africa then depending on the country you are traveling from, you may need to take the Yellow Fever Vaccination
What Other Activities Can Be Done in Nyungwe National Park
If Rwanda is a living dream, then the Nyungwe National Park is one of the highlights of the dream. Nyungwe is the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa and stretches across approximately 1000 square kilometers. Given the rich biodiversity of the region combined with the rich flora and fauna, the Nyungwe Forest National Park is a veritable paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. There are a number of activities available that are guaranteed to give one an experience of a lifetime. Listed below are some of the activities:
This is a trail that will take you towards the North-East of the park and your senses will be treated to some spectacular and panoramic views of the forest as well as the enchanting Lake Kivu. This trail covers about 5.2 kilometers and takes about 3.5 hours.
If Bird Watching is your passion, then this trail is something you must do. The bonus is the sighting of many primates as well as the white Satyrium Orchid and giant tree ferns. This trail covers 4 kilometers and takes about three hours. It is one of the easier trails in the Nyungwe National Park.
This trail leads to the highest point in the Nyungwe National Park which is Mt. Bigugu at a height of about 2.950 meters.This is a difficult trail as the path is steep. There are ample chances of seeing the Red-Collared Mountain Babbler apart from some really exotic wildflowers of the mountain. The trail covers 6.7 kilometers across some steep territory and takes about 6 hours.
This trail follows a circular route near Mt. Ngabwe and leads to a picnic spot as well as camping site at the highest point. The trail gives a breathtaking view of the spectacular fauna of the region. You may also meet the L’Hoest’s, Silver, and the Colobus monkeys. The trail covers 4.7 kilometers and takes up about 3 hours.
Kamiranzovu Marsh Trail
This starts about 12 kilometers from Uwinka and is a downhill trail that leads to the Nyungwe National Park’s largest wetlands. The unique ecosystem here which includes orchids and swamp birds like Grauer’s Rush Warbler is very beautiful. The trail covers a distance of about 6 kilometers and takes approximately 3 hours.
The Isumo Trail
This is a beautiful trail that takes you right into the heart of a tea plantation and then leads you into the forest where you come upon an enchanting waterfall known as the Isumo falls. On this trail one also has the opportunity to sight birds that include the Rwenzori.Turaco and the Yellow-Eyed Black Flycatcher.
Source of the Nile Walk
It is believed that the source of the White Nile lies in Rwanda. A drive of about 3 to 4 hours from the Unwinka takes you to the Gisovu Tea Factory and from here a trek that will take approximately 4 hours one way takes you to the point that is identified as the source of the Nile.
Congo-Nile Divide Trail
This is the longest trail in the Nyungwe National Park and takes you through almost all the habitats in the park. This trail is a great opportunity to experience the natural wealth of the forest and soak in the atmosphere to the full. The spectacular bio-diversity of the park will be in full play leading to an enthralling experience. The trail covers approximately 42 kilometers and takes 3 to 4 days to complete depending on fitness levels.
How to get to Rwanda
Where to stay
Have you done the Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda? If you are in Rwanda do not miss the great hike and excellent canopy walk of Nyungwe. If you have already visited the Nyungwe forest, do share your experiences of Canopy trekking in Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda through our comments section.
Thanks for visiting our site Voyager – imvoyager.com and taking the time to read our post!
We’d love if you’d comment and share this post.