Gishwati Mukura National Park offers a great birding experience. More than 150 species have been recorded so far. Approximately 20 of these are Albertine Rift endemics. With a good birding guide who knows the calls, you should be able to mark off many lifers here. You’ll easily spot the great blue and Ruwenzori turacos, and you’ll probably pick up some of the colorful sunbirds too. Also look out for the handsome francolin scurrying away in the forest undergrowth. The birding in Mukura Forest looks very promising, but there are currently no trails yet. The birding in Gishwati-Mukura National Park is good throughout the year. The best time is from January to June when birds are most vocal. Keep in mind though that April tends to be very wet, so birding activities are more likely to be interrupted by rain and trails tend to be very slippery.
Gishwati Mukura National Park
Rwanda’s fourth national park, Gishwati Mukura National Park is made up of two separate forests – the larger Gishwati and small Mukura, forming a total of 34 square kilometres plus a buffer zone. The forests sit on the ridge which divides the Congo and Nile water catchment areas, along the incredibly biodiverse Albertine Rift in the west of the country. It is made up of 60 species of tree, including indigenous hardwoods and bamboo. Gishwati Mukura National Park is home to a group of 20 chimpanzees which live alongside golden monkeys, L’Hoest’s and Blue Monkeys. Birds are well represented too, 232 species have been seen at Gishwati and 163 at Mukura, among them Albertine Rift Endemic species and forest specialists. Activities in the park started in 2019 and include a guided nature hike, guided chimp and monkey tracking, bird watching and a visit to the waterfalls.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is home to a community of 25 semi-habituated chimpanzees. While they know and are comfortable with the trackers, they are still weary of strangers. As a visitor, you’ll be an important part of the habituation process. At this stage, sightings are of variable quality, but seeing wild primates is an exciting experience and you’ll probably have the encounter to yourself. The chimps share the forest with l’Hoest’s and golden monkeys, both endemic to the Albertine Rift. Side-striped jackals can sometimes be seen trotting on the trails, and you might also see a shy black-fronted duiker scurrying off in the undergrowth. Also keep your eyes open for the odd-looking Rwenzori three-horned chameleon. Other forest creatures include Rwenzori sun squirrel, servaline genet and African civet.