Best time to trek chimps in Gishwati Makula national park
Gishwati Makula national park lies in the western part of Rwanda. It is also the newest park of Rwanda making it the fourth in Rwanda. It was created when two forests were joined; Makula and Gishwati which explains the origin of its name. The park is seated on 34 square kilometers along the diverse Albertine rift and is a home of various primates, birds, tree species and reptiles. This park also has a group of 20 chimpanzees and endangered species of the eastern chimpanzees and these can be trekked all year around.
The main activity in this park which is also the most attractive activity is trekking for a troop of habituated chimpanzees even with plenty of other species of animals, birds, reptiles and trees that will be sighted on your chimpanzee trek. However much visiting this park all year around is possible, trekking for chimpanzees in this park is best done in the wet season of the year which is in the months of October to May. During this season, there is plenty of food and fruits available at the slopes of the mountains and therefore limiting the movement of the chimps into the deep forest.
However, this activity is a bit risky during the wet season where the slopes and the trails are very slippery and there is plenty of vegetation which limits your sight.
In the drier months of the year, trekking is very easy since the slopes are dry. However, you have to be ready to take longer treks. This is because the chimpanzees require searching deep down into the forests making your treks longer. The chimpanzees also find it easier to move during the dry season and therefore tend to trek a lot
You will also have a chance to see other species in the forest like butterflies, baboons, tree hyrax, black- fronted duiker, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, chameleons etc. depending on the trail you are taking.
The park is located on the newly surfaced road from Kigali which is just 85km, 40km from ubavu and 55km from musanze which makes it easily accessible from any part of Rwanda.
By air, the park can be accessed from Kigali international airport, there are chattered flights to Gishwati Makula national park.
Chimp trekking is safe with no virtual risk. However, there are a few safety measures in place to ensure safety. You will receive these before going for the trek.
- Always follow your guide’s instructions and guidelines
- Don’t run in case the chimpanzees try to attack you
- Keep your selves in groups with your guide
- Keep a distance of 26 feet from the chimps
- Keep your voices down and never make any quick movements
- Don’t look directly into the chimpanzee’s eyes
- In case it charges, crouch down slowly and look down, follow what the guide instructs you to do.
Other activities to do in Gishwati Makula national park.
- Supporting different programs or conservation programs like the currently on going ambitious land scape program, great ape trust partner with the locals.
- Nature hikes in to the park to discover other species in the forest and explore Gishwati Makula national park. It rewards amazing views of different attractions. For instance, the fact that there are 60 indigenous tree species of hard wood and bamboo which you can view. In case you take the hikes, other species of monkeys like blue monkeys
- Bird lovers can take bird watching safaris here, the park’s small size makes it the best birding spot for you can spot out a number of birds in a very short time. Note that the park has about 163 species in Makula and 232 bird species in Gishwati, among them Albertine rift endemic species. The park is a refuge of 84 distinct bird species including the Albertine rift endemic species which are about 20 species in total.
- Monkey tracking in the forest is another activity here. There are different species of monkeys you can track like the blue monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys and the golden monkeys.
- Visiting the community and engaging in different community based activities in Gishwati Makula national park. Activities include farm stay, making handcrafts, beekeeping, tea plantation, live cultural dance and learning from traditional healers.
Gishwati Makula national park is a great get away projected area which you should count a must to explore while visiting Rwanda. The park is near Nyungwe national park giving you more adventurous opportunities and you can do it any time of the year.