Umuyove or The Mahogany Trail

This is one of the most popular hikes in Nyungwe. In a relatively
short distance you’ll relax by a waterfall, try out the views from
ten different benches and be amazed by the birds, the colorful
flowers and some of the most massive trees in the park. The Kin-
yarwanda name for the trail, Umuyove, means ‘mahogany’ and
you’ll find some of Nyungwe’s finest examples of this valuable
tree along this trail. The Umuyove Trail also serves as access to
several side trails used for viewing Grey-cheeked Mangabeys,
Angolan Black and White Colobus and chimpanzees, any of
which, in addition to blue monkeys, might be seen or heard on
the trail. There is also a path which connects to Rangiro Road
and Banda village in the valley below, which supplies the ma-
jority of RDB’s Uwinka staff.
From the Uwinka Overlook, follow the trail to the Buhoro-Im-
baraga junction and turn right and continue to the junction
with the Igishigishigi Trail. You will immediately be surrounded
by the serenity of lush, green rainforest and the pleasant sound
of birds, tree frogs and crickets. Many of the trails here are cut
into the hillside, providing hikers with chance to peer into all
levels of the forest, from flowering herbs on the forest floor, to
thickets of lichen draped lianas and shrubs, to epiphytes, taking
advantage of giant trees for sunlight. If you follow the Igishigishigi
Trail which forks left from the main trail, you will add the canopy
walkway experience to your hike. Or, you can continue to the next
junction and turn left.
The main Imbaraga Trail is reached about 400 m along with the
junction of the Buhoro Trail. The Igishigishigi Trail joins from the left af-
ter another 50 m. (Refer to the map of the Imbaraga Trail to see the
layout of the whole Uwinka Trial System.) Since most of the Uwinka
trails interconnect, numerous possibilities for variations of the routes
are available.
At 800m along the path, the Umuyove Trail comes in from the right,
while to the left it coincides with the Igishigishigi and Imbaraga Trails.
The Umuyove circuit can be done in either direction but is commonly
done clockwise.
Hikers continue to descend the ridge and the trail only gets more
beautiful as you venture onwards. Some sections of the path are
covered in moss or carpeted with flowers fallen from the canopy.
Impatiens, begonias and numerous other flowers line the sides of the
trail. Here you’ll find the classic, textbook inventory of rainforest trees
of Nyungwe. Your guide will know the names of most of them and
will impart upon you the traditional uses or lore.
The trail continues descending to a steep-sided, narrow valley full of
giant tree ferns. At the bottom of the trail, a 12 m high waterfall spills
over a nearly vertical wall of glistening, black rock. Large-flowered,
magenta jewelweeds thrive in the moist, sunny clearing. Now that
the easy part is over, you’ll immediately ascend the other side of the
V-shaped valley. After about 0.35 km, the Imbaraga Trail branches
off to the left and Umuyove Trail goes right, continuing up the side
of a ridge.
The ascent is gradual, and relieved by several short down hill or
flat sections. There are six more benches for resting. The Umuyove
Trail is short enough that hikers are encouraged to indulge them-
selves in the luxury walking at a comfortable pace, slow enough
to absorb the amazing beauty of Africa’s finest mid-altitude mon-
tane rainforest. Consider taking a minute to remain still and silent.
Listen for cicadas, crickets, tree frogs, birds and the gurgle of the
stream below. Watch leaves in the canopy flutter soundlessly. Enjoy
the spots of color of impatiens, begonias, mistletoes and numerous
other flowers against the deep, rich greens. Using your binoculars,
search for orchids and other “air plants” high up in the canopy.
the amazing variety of ferns, from small grass-like fronds to the
lacy fronds of giant tree ferns found at the bottom of the valley.
Although huge trees are a big attraction for this trail, the little
things can be absorbing too, from tiny blue flowers in the trail, to
mosses, lichens, butterflies and other insects. Inhale the scent of
humid forest, the aromatic leaves and scented flowers. You may
find yourself calmer and with a sense of well being on the rainfor-
est trails of Uwinka. Don’t forget to bring that feeling back with
you to the hustle and bustle of Kigali.