Friday, the 15th of October, the canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park, which is meant to give a new experience to tourists by bringing them to the “eye-to-eye level” with different primate and bird species that are used to live or to breed in the upper scales of the forest and giving them the possibility to have an overwhelming view over a big part of Nyungwe, was inaugurated.
The opening act started at 10.30 am. Speeches were hold by the Head of the section “Tourism and Conservation” at RDB (Rwanda Development Board), Mrs Rica Rwigamba and Mr. Louis Rugiranyange, the Chief Park Warden of Nyungwe National Park. The canopy walk, which is located in the middle of the Igishigishigi trail is the biggest walkway in East Africa which is, at its highest point, situated 90 meters above the ground, which should enable tracking tourists to gain inside of the upper tree levels as well as their inhabitants such as different primates, birds and orchids. The whole process of planning and constructing the canopy walk took at least five years during which there were mainly 25 people constantly involved in the building process. It was mainly financially supported by the US government through USAID and built by Canadian specialists from Green Heart Conservation Society.
The canopy walk is very strong and can support maximum 4 tones.
During the launching ceremony, there were only 12 people, including two guides, allowed to do the canopy walk at one time at one lap. Therefore, the opening acts´ visitors were divided into ten groups. This was necessary in order to make sure that everybody could walk at his own speed and could enjoy his/her first walk on the new building and no one had to hurry. The first group included the Minister of Trade and Industries, Mrs. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Chief Operation Officer at RDB, Mrs. Clare Akamanzi, the “Changée d’ Affaires” at USAID/Rwanda Program and other VIPs.
We as ACNR staff members (Serge Joram Nsengimana, Executive Director, Dane Beckers [see left picture] and Till Esch [bottom], both German volunteers) were inside the 9th group.
By chance, after a walk of 20 minutes toward the canopy walk, we were able to see two blue monkeys playing in the tree tops.
The whole walk, including some stops when our guide was giving information about a special tree species, when we had to wait for people in front of us to finish their turn or when he was giving us instructions on how to behave inside Nyungwe National Park or on the canopy walk, took us about two hours.
It was really a great experience for me and Dane, not just because it was our first time to visit a rainforest but also because we have never been that deep in nature, surrounded by nothing but the fresh air and the tree tops, and we would recommend to everyone visiting Nyungwe National Park and doing the canopy walk.