Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a fascinating Rwanda safari destination and a national park located in the south west region of Rwanda close to the border of Burundi in the south and the Democratic republic of Congo in the West. TheForest is generally dominated by Nyungwe forest which has been recognized as one of the oldest rainforests in Africa and it is among the ancient African forests in Africa to have survived the last ice age.
Nyungwe forest is among the largest montane forests in the East Africa, the forest is situated near the Congo Nile divide at the point of separation between the catchment areas of River Congo that flows to the west emptying in Atlantic Ocean and river Nile flowing to the north emptying in Mediterranean Sea.
Nyungwe forest covering an area of 970 square kilometers was gazetted as a national park in 2004 with an area which is composed of montane rainforest, bamboo bogs, swamps and grasslands.
Nyungwe forest is rich with extensive biodiversity made up of 13 species of primates, over 310 recorded bird species, 38 reptile species with 32 amphibian species and 85 mammal species. Primates in Nyungwe Forest include the largest group of black and white colobus monkeys in Africa recorded to be over 400 individuals, chimpanzees, angola colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, Hamlyn’s monkey, Red tailed monkey, grey checked mangabey, vervet monkey, olive baboon, Dent’s Mona Monkey and silver monkey.
Birds found in Nyungwe forest are recorded to be over 310 species and they include Great Blue Turaco, re-throated Alethe, paradise flycatcher and gigantic forest honey bill. Bird watching in Nyungwe forest in an excellent activity to spot many colorful bird species such as Albertine owlet, Archer’s robin-chat, Blue-headed sunbird, Buff-throated apalis, Dusky crimsonwing, Dwarf honeyguide, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Handsome francolin, Kivu ground thrush, Mountain masked apalis,Neumann’s warbler, Purple-breasted sunbird, Red-collared babbler, Red-faced woodland warbler, Red-throated alethe, Regal sunbird, Rockefeller’s sunbird, Ruwenzori apalis, Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori nightjar, Ruwenzori turaco, Shelley’s crimsonwing, Strange weaver, Stripe-breasted tit, Yellow-eyed black flycatcher among others.
Things to do in Nyungwe Forest national park
Chimpanzee tracking is the highlight activity offered in Nyungwe Forest national park and a must do activity during a Rwanda safari, Nyungwe forest is a home to 25% total population of Africa’s primates and second site inhabiting a big population of chimpanzees coming second to Uganda’s Kibale national park. Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest is doe of various hiking trails and this thrilling activity begins as early as 5 am, a group of 8 people are allowed to participate in the tracking experience and as you hike through the forest you get to spot many birds and other monkeys. Chimpanzee tracking is done in presence of an experienced guide who knows where to find the chimpanzees and when you find the chimpanzee you will are to spend a period one of 1 hour of taking pictures and watching the chimpanzee play on tree branches and picking fruits.
Canopy walk is a thrilling activity to do during your Rwanda safari in Nyungwe forest, there are only three walking canopy walkways in Africa and canopy walk in Nyungwe forest national park is the only of its kind in East Africa. Nyungwe Forest canopy walk is a 90 meters long and 50 meters above the ground, the canopy is suspended high above the Nyungwe.
Canopy walk in Nyungwe forest national park is 2 hours walk starting from Uwinka Visitor Centre and the activity is offered in 2 sessions that is morning session starting from 8 am to 10 am in the morning and evening session starting at 3 pm. Canopy walk in Nyungwe forest offers an opportunity to appreciate the heavy forest of Nyungwe, spot various species of monkeys such as blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and a number of birds.
The park and Nyungwe forest itself is listed among the top birding destinations in Rwanda boosting over 310 bird species include Albertine Rift Endemics, forest endemics and rare species such as the Great Blue Turaco, re-throated Alethe, paradise flycatcher and gigantic forest honey bill. Bird watching in Nyungwe forest in an excellent activity to spot many colorful bird species such as Albertine owlet, Archer’s robin-chat, Blue-headed sunbird, Buff-throated apalis, Dusky crimsonwing, Dwarf honeyguide, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Handsome francolin, Kivu ground thrush, Mountain masked apalis,Neumann’s warbler, Purple-breasted sunbird, Red-collared babbler, Red-faced woodland warbler, Red-throated alethe, Regal sunbird, Rockefeller’s sunbird, Ruwenzori apalis, Ruwenzori batis, Ruwenzori nightjar, Ruwenzori turaco, Shelley’s crimsonwing, Strange weaver, Stripe-breasted tit, Yellow-eyed black flycatcher among others.
Bird watching in Nyungwe Forest is good throughout the year, during May – June and July to September birds feeding their fledglings and in January or February the birds become more active. During the period from November to April, migratory birds arrive in the park which makes it the best period to visit Nyungwe Forest national park during Rwanda birding safari experience.
Nyungwe forest is heavily forested hence being an excellent Rwanda safari destination for Rwanda hiking safaris, hiking in Nyungwe forest national park is facilitated by 13 hiking trails on which you get a pleasure to explore the thick forests of the park. Hiking in Nyungwe forest national park is an excellent experience on which you get to spot a number of bird species, primates and beautiful plant species found in the park. Hiking routes in Nyungwe forest national include Ngabwe trail, Bugugu trail, Muzimu trail, Rukuzi trail, Congo Nile divide trail, Igishigishigi trail, Buhoro trail, Imbaraga trail, Irebero trail, Umugote trail, Unuyove trail, Kamiranzovu marsh trail, Isumo waterfall trail, Karamba trail and Uwinka trail.
Hiking in Nyungwe forest national park lasts for approximately 1 -8 hours depending on the trail you choose and while you will enjoy many animals such as elephants in Kamiranzovu marsh, breathtaking views of Lake Kivu, volcanoes, primates such as Rwenzori colobus monkeys, grey checked mangabeys, blue monkeys and a variety of birds such as gigantic forest hornbill, green pigeons, Ross’s turaco among others.
Nyungwe Forest national park inhabits a total of 13 species of primates with some species endemic to the region such as Rwenzori Colobus Monkey, other primates living in the forests of Nyungwe include Grey checked mangabeys, L’Hoest monkeys, owl faced monkey, Mona Monkeys, Blue monkeys among others. Primate tracking is Nyungwe Forest national park is done along one of the 13 hiking trails running through the forest, while hiking one of these trails you get an opportunity to spot a number of primates such as blue-monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, grey checked mangabeys, mona monkeys, Owl faced monkeys and the highlight of primate tracking is meeting a group of over 200 Rwenzori Colobus Monkeys which is the biggest concentration you will get to see in one place.
Accommodation in Nyungwe Forest national park
Accommodation in Nyungwe Forest national park is got from various safari lodges, guest houses, motels, campsites and hotels including Nyungwe forest lodge, Gisakura guest house, Nyungwe Top view Hotel among others.