Explore the Primates Haven
As the sun set down its covers we too set down our sand prepared for the long awaited safari in Rwanda to Nyungwe forest one of the largest remaining tracts of rainforests in Eastafrica. The surfaced winding road between Nyungwe and Kigali can be covered between 5 to 6 hours given the possibility of often getting stuck behind a slow track on steeper slopes.
With our experienced Rwandese guide we hit the road to Nyungwe with several stops including the ethnographic museum, the king’s palace in Nyanza, a number of genocide museums among other stopovers. The lush green tea, terraced gardens in the thousand hills and valleys projected marvelous beauty at its best. However by the time the forest came in full view it was raining heavily and I was nauseated and feeling a bit dizzy from the twists and turns of the winding roads. As we closed in on the forest, along the road in the thickets of the forest, there he was the least researched – the l’hoest’s monkey.
He is also rather shy and as soon as we spotted him and he spotted us, he dashed off in the thickness of the forest. We were very excited and couldn’t wait to take on the forest because this was just the tip of the ice bag.
It was only a matter of time before we pulled into the parking lot of Gisakura visitor’s centre. Ehhhuuu! We couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief we were finally here at, the haven of primates in Rwanda and the largest afro-montane forest in Africa.
We checked into our double room, reasonable space with the bed in the centre of the room and a relatively large open wardrobe with hangers and a solar lamp just in case of a power cut out. Just adjacent to it was the relatively small window that looked out into a small flower garden and further into the forest. The rooms are not self contained, but in our row there were five rooms sharing two bathrooms and toilets with hot and cold running water. Being a cold evening after a down pour we enjoyed a warm bath before continuing for dinner.
We chose to have dinner at Nyungwe forest lodge located a few meters away from the gisakura. The luxurious state of the art beauty stands harmoniously among the gisakura tea estates and the Nyungwe forest. The spacious well decorated lounge is an addition to the warm and friendly staff that were waiting to serve us. I must say they are the friendliest staff I met during my stay in Rwanda with an exception of our guide Paul Tamwenya Meals here are served in different places to start with the dining area, a wooden fenced area with open fire, perfect for outdoor dining and sundowners, the cozy restaurant with fire places spread out is an equal beauty for those who love indoor coziness, a tea lounge and a bar are the other places one could enjoy a meal. We chose the cozy indoor diningarea with a spot close to the fire place being a cold evening. We were served hot and magnificent pumpkin soup for a starter (the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever had so far) and for dinner we had pork chops and mashed potatoes and finished with a chocolate gateau. The meals were superb!
After an amazing dinner we enjoyed a hot cup of coffee in the tea lounge with a number of games to pass time and slowly breathed in the cool night air at the terraced as the eyes feasted on the beautiful night views of the lodge before retiring back for the night.
Early morning we were awakened with the song of the cape robin chat that lingered in the air alongside others. We took breakfast and headed out to the Uwinka Park headquarters a 30 mins drive from gisakura. We booked for our day’s activity before receiving a briefing from the park authorities about the do and don’ts of the forest, the condition of the forest among other things.
The trail covers 2.1kms and could take anything around one and half hours.
It is also called the Igishigishigi trail, after the majestic giant tree ferns that are numerous in this area. Through the entire walk we spotted about various birds and I would recommend the trail for birders. We also encountered the l’hoest’s monkey and the grey cheeked mangebeys as the wild flowers graced our path. At the bridge that hangs 57m above the ground, we enjoyed spectacular views of the Uwinka ridge and valley, as well as the forest canopy.
Although we didn’t get to take part in the other activities and walk on other trails there are still many other trails in this forest that provide different views. These include:
Buhoro trail (exceptional views, big trees, good birding and pretty wildflowers)
Umuyove trail (waterfalls, birds, flowers and massive trees)
Karamba trail (the best bird walk & fairly easy)
Kamiranzovu marsh (orchids and wetland birds)
Ngabe trail for primates (L’hoest, silver and colobus monkeys)
Cyamudongo&Uwinka (chimps). Once you choose Africa and take a Rwanda safari you will have it all!! We wish you a fun-filled memorable safari through the land of a thousand hills!