THE FOREST AND CANOPY WALK IN NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK.
I got to know about the canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park a few years ago, like a weird worm implanted in my head, it grew and grew until I couldn’t ignore it burrowing deep in my lizard brain. I had to see it. I had to do it. This excursion was one of my primary reasons for coming to Rwanda. After completing my earlier bridesmaid duties and partying up a small storm all week. Alex and I made plans to go over the weekend. We would be using public transport; busses to be exact for what would be a 6 hour journey. To think there was a place that required a 6 hour drive in Rwanda did boggle the mind. After getting fueled up at Got Buns (seriously what delicious burgers they’ve got!) we sauntered downtown to Nyabugogo Bus Park. It’s pretty organized here, I’ll give them that, what I can’t get over is constantly having to walk over spit every other corner. It’s almost like there’s a cough endemic down here.Its very unsightly.
Unfortunately the bus we needed left and the next available one to the general area was at 1am.that wasn’t going to work for me. I was hangover, cranky and just not in the mood for all this. I actually contemplated canceling as I didn’t want to spend my last days in Kigali on a bus. However Alex managed to find an 11pm shuttle. That was the best we were going to get. Alex took us to the movies to pass the time. After a not so quick bite we made it down the park on time. We waited till about midnight when we finally set off. The journey was painful, the speakers kept blaring some nonsense at full volume like we needed Tanzania to hear us. it being pitch black, there was no scenery to enjoy. My neighbor to the right decided I’d be his human pillow for the journey. It was one of those things i just had to come to terms with.
We missed our stop and continued on an hour and half to the bus park in Rusizi (I think that’s what it’s called) it was just as well, it was pitch black in a forest, for all we know bigfoot and other creatures of the dark were on vacations here as well, best to leave them alone. We did manage to get a shuttle to the place pretty quick. That point Alex noticed he’d lost his phone. It must have dropped somewhere. Sorry about that man!
The drive in these parts is like a sideways rollercoaster, the corners are so sharp we were all involuntarily doing the “the Hip Hop hurray” dance with our bodies. Naturally someone was bound to hurl! A kid behind threw up which I kid you not started a chain reaction in the back. Thank god we got to our destination just then. I might have been next.
We got to the Uwinka Overlook at about 7am ish .It was incredibly cold. We got to the reception, paid our fees, 10$ in my case and had some breakfast, some much needed coffee and a cheese omelet. At about 8am, along with a couple and our guides, one of them named Dab or was it Daz, I’ll call him D, I’m really bad with names! We started off after a short briefing.
Nyungwe National Park is the largest protected mountain forest in Africa covering between 1600 and 2000 square meters. Getting to the canopy is a 2 hour hike into the forest. We saw some forest monkeys along the way. The hike was really enjoyable. I was however acutely aware that I was going to be in pain coming back up since we’d be climbing. The canopy came into view and boy is it impressive; 90 meters long its suspended 60 ft above the forest floor, it was then that I remembered I’m afraid of heights!
We got to the starting point and what do you know, this canopy is pretty slim swaying ever so gently in the wind, I thought it was a stationary bridge. We got on, Alex first. I won’t lie I was steady losing my shit on there. It was a little scary and I kept looking down, I couldn’t help it. I held on to the sides for dear life and shuffled on as fast as I could. Once I got over the first one, the second one wasn’t so bad; I finally noticed just how beautiful and serene this place is. I’ll pick a forest over the beach any day. D told us we’d be heading back over the bridge to pick our walking sticks then hike back to camp. I dreaded going back but I’d come this far so really, I could do it. I looked around and noticed Alex was gone so I mozied on after him.
Doing it alone is the trick.The bridge doesn’t sway as much. I did enjoy it up until the couple behind me felt the need to bring me back to reality by screaming for me not to look down, guess what I proceeded to do? Some of you are enemies of progress and you don’t even know it! I made it back shivering slightly, took pictures and waited for the rest to come through. Then it was on to that 2 hour trek back. People! This hike was killer! All those times I had half arsed my cardio came back to me clear as day. I was sweating so much i discovered River Trish, the second longest river in Africa flowing down my neck! The only thing that gave me solace was the fact that in this particular type of death I was not alone. Misery loves company after all. Alex was the only one seemingly unaffected ,he was sprinting back trying to show the forest monkeys how in shape he is.
We got to the camping grounds and took a breather. We’d previously thought of camping here but with the inconvenient bus schedules that didn’t happen. It’s just as well; I probably would have frozen my nips off. Funny thing rain forests, we experienced all types of weather in minutes. Thank god it didn’t fully rain. We got back to the reception which marked the end of the tour. Hubloodyray! Eventually we got a shuttle back to Kigali.
Granted the journey wasn’t ideal, the Canopy walk made up for it all. I totally recommend doing this at least once. I will say this, if you can fly here or organize a private car do it. It’s a much better option as the bus schedules are finicky. Getting a ride back to Kigali is a true waiting game. X