April 11, 2022
A Walk in the Woods
- as seen by -Natalie Ingle
In an age of hypersonic news and existential dread, a walk in the woods does a body good. Walking through one of Africa’s most ancient rainforests is another thing altogether. Nyungwe Forest in southwest Rwanda is a truly understated gem and, thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s efforts to highlight its importance in the 80s and 90s, it’s now protected as a national park and well-provisioned with visitor trails.
Nyungwe drips with low-hanging clouds and hums with life—primates, birds, butterflies, orchids—many of which are found nowhere else on earth. Full of giant mahogany, conifer, and hagenia trees, it also functions like a massive natural water tower for one of the world’s most densely populated countries, regulates local weather, and of course sinks a lot of carbon.
Walking through Nyungwe, though, you’re not struck by all the work it’s doing; you’re struck by how peaceful it is — like a land before time. Forest bathing here is like taking a dip in the fountain of youth. This great blue turaco (Corythaeola cristata), photographed in Nyungwe, isn’t a rare bird but (you can imagine!) still a memorable sighting and one more perk of walking in the woods.