Canopy walk is an activity in East Africa that can only be found in Nyungwe National Park Rwanda in East Africa and is an amazing activity that will leave you fascinated. A park focused to ensuring visitor satisfaction with its rich biodiversity of over 1000 plant species, 120 butterfly species, 85 animal species and a variety of activities which may include birding, chimpanzee trekking, camping, hiking, research and many more.
The activity was introduced to boost tourism in the Park together with other tourism activities like chimpanzee tracking, birding, hiking, camping and many more. The idea to set up the walkway was brought up in 2008 and with the support of U.S.A.I.D construction works started in 2010 under a non- governmental organisation Green Heart. The Canopy walkway was then launched in 2017 by Monique Nsazabaganwa the Minister of trade and industry together with the Chief Operating Officer at Rwanda Development Board Claire Akamanzi.
The canopy walk is divided among three stretches and each of the sections has a varying length, the shortest stretch at 25 metres, followed by 45 metres and the longest at 90 metres regardless of where the tourist is on the canopy walkway, the scenery remains beautiful and satisfying.
Since the canopy walkway is the only one in the East African region, it has therefore improved and boosted tourism in Nyungwe National Park and Rwanda at large with the increased tourism inflows to experience the one of a kind adventure since its opening in 2017.
With the increased tourist inflows, many people have searched on how to access Nyungwe National Park to take part in the activity.
How to participate in the Canopy walk.
For tourists who are interested in participating in the Canopy walk in East Africa, the only place is Nyungwe national park, and visitors will access the park by either road or air transport. By road transport, the distance from the capital city-Kigali to the National Park is approximately 190km and it should take them about 5 hours to reach the park if the car is in good condition.
For tourists that are able to afford air transport, Rwandair which is the national carrier offers domestics flights that they can opt for. Tourists can book a flight from Kigali to Kamembe town which is very close to the park and from there road transport means are used to cover the 49.5 km to Nyungwe National Park. It takes approximately 1hour and 10 minutes to reach the park therefore compared to the use of road transport and air transport is fast and easy.
The tourist on reaching the national park should first go through Uwinka Reception Centre which can be accessed through the gates Gisakura which is the western entrance or Katabi which is the Eastern entrance. At both entrances, the tourist is supposed to pay a fee of 60 USD to carry out canopy walk.
At the reception, the tourists that are going to participate in the activity are briefed on what is to be expected of the activity, the equipment to use and so on and a guide is introduced to the group who leads the group to the Igishigishigi trail.
Igishigishigi trail was chosen among all the trails for the canopy walkway because of its ease and the ability for one to reach the walkway in the shortest time. The site for the walkway was selected to be halfway the trail and compared to other trails the Igishigishigi trail was the best fit. The 2.1 km trail starts at Uwinka Visitors Center. On the trail, numerous trees and plant species are noticed moving forward and the Uwinka ridge is also seen. As tourists continue on the trail, the canopy walkway is discovered along the trail. On the trail lichens, mosses, orchids ferns, and other plant species are seen before reaching the Canopy Walkway.
However, there are other trails in Nyungwe National Park that are equally important namely:
- Ngabwe trail: The trail leads to the Ngabwe Mountain, and this is frequented mainly by hikers whose missions are to get to the highest peaks however it’s not only hikers that frequent the trail but also nature lovers whose purposes are to see wildlife. Also, the trail offers tourists to go for picnic because of the camping and the picnic sites which helps a tourist to have a look at the primates like the chimpanzees, monkeys like the mangabey and so on,
- Bigugu Trail: The trail leads to Mountain Bigugu which is usually opted by tourists who choose hiking as the activity they want to participate in. tourists are able to hike up to the highest point of the peak and a tourist is also able to carry out activities like birding with the presence of numerous bird species like the Red Collared Mountain Babbler among others. There is also a variety of plant species for instance flowers like the scarlet flowers, Red Hot Poker and so on at the highest point; one can also have a view of the beautiful Lake Kivu.
- Isumo waterfall trail: Trail leads to the magnificent waterfalls but through the trail dense vegetation is seen with thick rainforests and the trail is also slippery but with cool breezes a result of the waterfalls. A walk on the trail enables one to experience a walk in paradise with the numerous bird species, primates can also be seen, butterflies and so on.
- Karamba birding trail: the relatively flat trail is significant for its bird species which enables birders to carry out birding like the Turaco which is common in the area, however other activities like camping and also carrying out picnics can also be carried out since of the area being flat also to note primates like the blue monkeys can be seen
- Kamiranzovu Marsh Trail: This trail leads to the kamiranzovu swamp which during the dry season, different animal species come in search of water and also birds like the Graurer Rush warbler that usually frequent the swamp. other trails may include the source of the Nile trail which is significant for the various bird species, the Umoyove trail which is significant for the mahogany tree species but also chimpanzees can be seen in the area, the Rukuzi trail which is also significant for the primates like chimpanzees, the Irebero trail which enables a tourist to view lake Kivu at the highest point. Imbaraga trail which is significant for being able to take tourists to the waterfalls and also there is also a possibility of finding chimpanzees,
- Umugote trail which gives a clear view of the Burundi mountains and also numerous plant species.
- Congo Nile divide trail: this is preferred by hikers different plant species are seen during the hiking and since it’s the longest hiking trail, camping is also carried out. Source of the Nile trail whose river Rukarara is believed to be the source of River Nile.
Starting Time of the Canopy Walk
The canopy walk is an activity that is carried out daily throughout the year and this enables tourists to participate in other activities. In spite of the fact that the canopy walk is available every day, there are particular time frames that canopy walk is carried out in a day and these are in the morning at 8:00am or 10:00am, in the afternoon at 3:00 pm and at night at 7:00 pm.
At the canopy walkway
At the different sections of the canopy walk way there are varieties of animal species, bird species butterfly species and vegetation cover that can be seen across Nyungwe National Park. For example primates like the different monkey species namely; the white colobus, Angola colobus, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, owl faced monkeys other animal species like the golden cats, duikers,, giraffes, lions, buffalos chimpanzees jumping from tree to tree. Butterfly species, for instance, the graphium- gudunesi, metisella- articolla, zenonia- crasta, charaxes-mafuga among others which offers a breathtaking experience to the tourists that take part in the activity of canopy walk.
At the canopy walkway, there are also other attractions that can be seen for instance Lake Kivu, the thick green vegetation, with other 200 tree species it is evident that the upper canopy is dominated by hardwood trees which can also be seen while carrying out canopy walks and the different plant species.
What to consider during the Canopy walk
During canopy walk, it is advised to be free from any health complications which can affect the person during hiking to the canopy since it involves using one’s physical strength. People with health complications like heart problems, lung problems that can cause shortness of breath are advised not to participate in the activity.
People that are also afraid of heights or the ones with acrophobia are not advised to participate in the activity since it is done many metres above the ground. However, those that participate in the activity are advised to follow instructions of the tour guides who are professionally trained to avoid any accident while on the Canopy Walkway.
Equipment to carry for the Canopy Walk
Tourists are advised to carry different items while embarking on their journey for example items like;
- Food, for instance, the young ones that can’t take long without food in order to avoid inconveniences during the trip.
- Cameras that can help capture the beautiful moments while at the canopy walkway.
- Raincoats since the area is a forest area and it receives 2000mm of rainfall annually. Rains are easily experienced so it is advised for one to carry a jacket along to avoid uncertainties.
- Hiking boots since the trail is slippery and wet. It is advised to carry the boots and if one doesn’t have any, the reception center has hiking boots available for hire.
- Hiking sticks are also provided at the reception free of charge which can be used in places that are hard to hike which can provide support in steep areas.
Park Fees for Canopy Walk in Nyungwe
For one to participate in the canopy walk, a fee of 60 USD has to be paid to the reception at Uwinka reception center.
NOTE: Nyungwe National Park can offer a variety of tailored products for instance after canopy walk, a tourist can also track chimpanzees on different trails or carry out birding since it takes only two hours. This gives chance to tourists to participate in other activities hence making more memories thus leading to customer satisfaction.
Another important aspect for any individual to carry out canopy walk, he/she should be above 6 years of age and for children, they should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For all walks on the canopy, a person or a group should be accompanied by a professional guide for the activity to be safe.
“Visit Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda and get a chance to experience this amazing tour activity that will leave u mesmerized – Canopy Walk.”