Rwanda Development Board(RDB) has signed a 25-year concession agreement with a local company for the development of a multi-phased conservation and tourism management program in Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
The concession agreement will see Imizi Ecotourism Development Ltd develop and operate an exclusive chimpanzee and primate trekking experience under the Wilderness Safaris brand, according the statement from RDB.
RDB will oversee ecology and conservation initiatives including ranger presence, law enforcement, science, engagement of community cooperatives, human-wildlife conflict resolution and research and monitoring.
Imizi is a subsidiary of Wilderness Safaris, a premier conservation organization with a presence in seven African countries, and which operates Bisate Lodge around the Volcanoes National Park and Magashi Lodge which is located around the Akagera National Park.
Emmanuel Hategeka, RDB Deputy Chief Executive Officer said the new project in Gishwati-Mukura National Park would offer another unique world class tourist experience, and draw even more visitors to Rwanda.
“It will be a valuable addition to other popular destinations including the Volcanoes National Park home to the rare Mountain Gorillas, Nyungwe National Park and the Akagera National Park home to the Big Five that receive tens of thousands of guests every year,” he said in a statement released on Saturday.
He noted that the unique Gishwati-Mukura National Park chimpanzee and primate trekking experience is one more great reason to visit Rwanda given that it is the safest destination in the region but also ranked fifth safest and most secure country globally.
“Imizi’s investment in Gishwati-Mukura National Park reinforces further Rwanda’s pole position as a high end sustainable tourism destination, and benefits the residents living around the park,” Hategeka concluded.
Keith Vincent, Wilderness Safari CEO, said the signing of this agreement is an exciting development in the company’s overall strategy to help take the Rwanda high end ecotourism experience and its positive impacts on conservation and rural communities far beyond the gorilla experience.
“We envisage extended stays in the country where tourists are exposed to more of Rwanda’s unique attractions. The potential of Rwanda is undeniable and we feel privileged to partner with the Rwanda Development Board to unlock this in Gishwati-Mukura and elsewhere’’, he said.
Gishwati- Mukura Park has been undergoing restoration under a project by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) since 2014 and is located in North-West of the country.
Some of the attractions include wildlife and game viewing, trekking and hiking, landscape and nature viewing, adventure and sports activities, community-based tourism, culture and heritage.
For Gishwati area specifically, the attractions are Gishwati forest, Pfundariver, Sebeya river, waterfall trail, Umushwati trees trail, Rushubi Tea trail and Gishwati community trail.
For Mukura area, the attractions include Mukura Forest, Satinsyi River, Rucanzogera River, Secoko River, Mukura bike trail, Rucanzogera trail and Mukura Area Community Trail.
Three tourism development zones have been identified with tourist attractions namely “Umushwati Tourism Zone” at the north-west gate of the park, Bitenga/Sebeya Tourism Zone” at the north-eastern gate and “RucanzogeraTourism Zone” at the southern Gate.