Parc National de Nyungwe, Rwanda

UpdatesPosted by Karl Kristian Larsen 14 Jun, 2010 16:35:31

A friend of those I couchsurfed with helped me quite a lot fixing my stay in Parc National de Nyungwe, bus tickets, making sure I get on the right bus and other park-information. So thank you Yves! Also thanks to Marja and Xavier for hosting me in Huye!

After 2.5 hours on hairpin roads (remember, Rwanda is called “land of thousand hills” – sure it’s beautiful, put the price to pay is some uncomfortable bus-journeys, and plenty of accidents) the Muzungu (me) was dropped off at the Uwinka park entrance. I got appointed a guide, and left for the forests - The 5.6km pink trail. Supposedly the 5.6km trail was really hard, and the longest walk we have time for today (as I was interested in the 10km trip).

The trip trough the park was beautiful (and not really strenuous), steep hills and lush vegetation as far as you can see. The forest is a virgin equatorial rainforest that survived the last Ice Age; therefore it’s one of the oldest green expanses on the African continent. It’s also Rwanda’s most important place for biodiversity.

But the beauty also has its price. I paid 50USD for the 5.6 km guided trip, a guide was compulsory, even though I have been running orienteering in Scandinavian forests for more than 10 years. The camping site (with tent and sleeping bag rental) also claimed me off 50USD. But after some consideration I understand that it’s actually necessary. Rwanda is the most densely populated country in mainland-Africa, and number 29 in the world with 404.9 persons/km2. All these 10 million people need food, and since the country preserve area in the national parks, area that could be used for agriculture, Rwanda must make sure that the national parks provides income other ways. In the industrialized world the nature should be free, but with a poor country – creating a future with eco-friendly up-marked tourism I understand the difference.

The park is also famous for chimpanzees and other primates, so I was filled with hope during our trekking. Apart from a frog and some birds, the diversity didn’t really show.

But later, when my tent was up, and in the dusk of the sunset I heard something outside my tent (The tentsite was some 500m from the park headquarters – in the forest! And I was the only one there) I looked out, and to my surprise it was actually 10 l’Hoest’s monkeys in the tree’s. I got to see the primates, and I was happy. Later it started to rain heavily (rainforest style) and it got tremendously dark, then I felt a bit lonely, laying there in my tent.

The next day I got up early and did an hour of illegal trekking in the forest. After that I started a minibus-marathon all the way down to Musanze.