When I started touring Rwanda’s tourist attractions, I was eager to find out how it feels like to walk on the floor of the biggest forest I have ever seen, mingle with baboons and sleep in a zipped nylon tent.
Growing up, I never imagined I would ever pay to walk in the jungle and I am still struggling to come to terms with the fact that I have to buy drinking water. Oxygen is probably the only product I can still consume free of charge and I vow to enjoy that privilege while it lasts.
Nyungwe trails are so narrow that my group had to march on a single file creating a long line. Although our tour guide had given us clear instructions to remain quiet throughout the hike, some notorious noisemakers would not refrain from shouting. Despite being told repeatedly that monkeys and their cousins hate noise pollution, my travel companions were too excited to keep their voices in check.
This group was made up of young and hyper Kigali dwellers. They barely paid attention to the code of conduct presented to us by park officials. As if that wasn’t enough to test our guide’s patience, the youngsters could not keep time even though they moved faster than the older tourists we found in the forest. The photogenic selfie generation needs long photo shoot sessions our itinerary planner hadn’t anticipated.
We walked on a steep slope towards the interior of the forest. The farther we moved, the denser the forest grew. Benches are placed a couple of kilometers apart for those who need to pause and take a breather before proceeding to their destinations. Nothing beats taking a seat in the middle of the forest without Wi-Fi and other distractions.
We spent more time in the forest than we were supposed to. Being behind schedule did not prevent my new friends from causing more delays while whining over poor internet connection or lack thereof.
Hiking back to the starting point was a physically challenging drill. If you are planning to explore Nyungwe, you better start using that gym membership you have been wasting.
There are different trails leading to different attractions while enabling hikers to bond with nature. Through Isumo trail, hikers can visit the stunning Isumo Falls. Bigugu trail leads to the highest hill in the park. From there, visitors can see Lake Kivu as well as parts of Burundi and the DRC. The source of the Nile can also be reached through one of these trails.
There are more trails with varying degrees of difficulty and length. They all have one thing in common. They reward their hikers handsomely. Paying to walk in the jungle is worth it after all.