Exploring Rwanda from East Africa’s Highest Canopy
After a six-hour drive from Kigali, we arrived in stunning Nyungwe Forest National Park to Nyungwe Forest Lodge (more on that and other lodges we’re staying at in a forthcoming post). As per usual, we couldn’t bear not getting in a full day, so we checked in, had lunch and hit the road to check out the Canopy Walkway in the forest. The Canopy Walkway hangs 60 – 70 meters above ground and represents the highest canopy experience in East Africa.
It’s a guided tour and guests must go with a tour guide (we has assumed it was self guided). Tours take place throughout the day with a couple of tours in the morning and then afternoon tours at 1PM and 3PM. We arrived a touch early but joined the 3PM tour along with two ladies from the UK and two men from Holland.
We had anticipated something a bit different from what we experienced. Heading in, we assumed that the canopy was a quick walk away where guests cross the bridge to scope out views of the forest below. The Canopy Walkway tour is actually a bit of a hike, and it takes an hour and a half or so to complete depending on your group. The hike is noted as being ‘easy’ but our guide confessed that it was more of a moderate hike than an easy one, with some elevation change and a series of steps to make it to the canopy starting point. If you haven’t yet done any chimp or gorilla trekking, it’s a good warm up to get the blood flowing and get in the hang of forested hikes.
Finally, we arrived at a series of three canopies: one 45 meter canopy, one 90 meter canopy, and one 25 meter canopy, all with views of Nyungwe Forest around and below. The forest is gorgeous, made more stunning by Rwanda’s hills (when they refer to themselves as the ‘land of a thousand hills’ they’re not kidding). For anyone looking for an easy to moderate hike with great forest views, the Canopy Walkway is a great first brush with the forest! We had a couple of people in our group who weren’t fans of heights who fared just fine. The canopies are a bit wobbly – especially with a half-dozen people walking across – but with a four ton capacity they’re totally safe and the railing on the side makes it extra secure.
What to Know
Firstly, the Canopy Walkway experience costs $60 per person. We paid our fees in advance but you can presumably pay at the office right before a hiking experience. The tour is more of a hike than just a simple tour so be prepared for some medium terrain and dress accordingly. You’ll need hiking shoes (or at least closed toed shoes you can hike in comfortably), and a rain coat is suggested in case of a shower (we had a sunny experience). Hiking sticks are provided and despite making you look like an Austrian trekker, they’re actually very handy!
Have you been to Nyungwe Forest? Did you do the Canopy Walkway tour?