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Canopy walk: The thrill of walking 70 meters above the floor of Nyungwe forest

Canopy walk: The thrill of walking 70 meters above the floor of Nyungwe forest

Earlier this week, I published a story sharing my experiences below the surface of the earth. After my first ever underground expedition, I felt the thrill of walking 70 meters above the ground. The world is a mysterious planet viewed from different positions for a broader perspective.

Some attractions require an aerial view for a comprehensive observation. Trekking on the floor of Nyungwe forest is highly recommended and absolutely gratifying but it’s the canopy that guarantees a bird’s-eye view of the park. You will have no idea how astonishing the forest is until you walk over it. Seeing how thick vegetation winds through the landscape, covering the surface and falling over deep valleys will take your breath away.

Walking on top of Nyungwe forest is one of the most electrifying things I have ever done. That says a lot considering my adventurous past. The suspension bridge made of ropes and metallic materials swings with every step you make. At some point, it seems like the whole thing is about to turn upside down. This experience will undoubtedly ignite butterflies in your stomach but that’s the beauty of it.

Canopy walkways were initially used by scientists to reach upper levels of forests while conducting their research. In some parts of the world, suspension skyways were used as mere bridges enabling pedestrians to walk from one hill to another. Eventually, brains behind the ever-evolving leisure industry stole the idea and developed an eco-friendly product.

My latest visit to Nyungwe took place during the recent rainy season. The torrential downpour on the first day of our road trip forced us to alter our plans. We proceeded to the southern flank of Lake Kivu where the source of Rusizi River is traced. Back in the forest, it rained cats and dogs all night long and when we returned in the morning, it was still drizzling a little bit. Equipped with waterproof rain suits and gumboots, we crossed the canopy one trembling step after another.

The canopy gave us an opportunity to experience nature from a different angle. From a vantage point, we espied the sea of flora and fauna while rubbing shoulders with flying birds. The air up there is pure, fine and bracing.

Nyungwe National Park is located in the south-western corner of Rwanda. The dense rainforest is home to habituated chimpanzees and other primate species including 400 troops of Ruwenzori colobus. More than 300 species of birds and a wide variety of mammals are found there too.

My first ever canopy tour was more nerve-racking than subsequent ones. Halfway through the bridge, I started questioning my decisions. There was a young lady behind me who was screaming her lungs out. She was scared to death but when she made it to the other side, she wanted to do it all over again. That made the two of us. Once is never enough.

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