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Rwanda Parks
Akagera National Park
Set at a relatively low altitude on the border with Tanzania. It could be scarcely be more different to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda. Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile this is archetypal African Savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grass. Akagera National Park is well known for herds of Elephants and Buffalo which emerge from woodland to drink water at the lakes, luckily visitors might stumble across a Leopard, a spotted Hyena or even a stray Lion. Other wildlife animals found there are Antelope, chestnut-coated Impala, the Oribi and Secretive Bushbuck, the ungainly Tsessebe and the world’s largest Antelope the Statuesque Cape Eland. Alongside the lakes of Akagera Hippotami grunt splutter while outsized soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape. Fish Eagles and endangered and exquisite Papyrus Gonolek and the Bizarre shoebill stork are also found there.
Nyungwe National Park
Extending for 1,000 square kilometres across the majestic hills of southeast Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is the largest block of montane forest in East or Central Africa, and one of the most ancient, dating back to before the last Ice Age. A uniquely rich centre of floral diversity, the forest has more than 200 different types of tree, and a myriad of flowering plants including the other-worldly giant lobelia and a host of colorful orchids. Nyungwe is most alluring for its primates: 13 species in all, including humankind’s closest living relative the chimpanzee, as well as the handsome L’Hoest’s monkey and hundred-strong troops of the delightfully acrobatic Angola colobus. The most important ornithological site in Rwanda, Nyungwe harbours almost 300 bird species of which two dozen are restricted to a handful of montane forests on the Albertine Rift. The avian highlight of Nyungwe is the great blue turaco - an outlandish blue, red and green bird which streams from tree to tree like a procession of streamlined psychedelic turkeys. An extensive network of well-maintained walking trails leads through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points. A comfortably rustic rest house and perfectly situated campsite lie alongside the main road, and the reserve can readily be visited as a day trip from the towns of Butare and Cyangugu.
Parc National Des Volcans
Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range - home of the rare mountain gorilla - and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath. An exhilarating trek through the cultivated foothills of the Virungas offers stirring views in all directions. Then, abruptly, the trail enters the national park, immersing trekkers in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, and littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. Through gaps in the forest canopy, the magnificent peaks are glimpsed, easily accessible and among the highest in Africa, beckoning an ascent.
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