Nyungwe Forest National Park Becomes a World Heritage Site : On September 19, 2023, Rwanda received excellent news: Nyungwe Forest National Park was officially included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nyungwe Forest National Park is also the first site in Rwanda to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, indicating its worldwide significance.
That is, locations that should be recognized and preserved because they have biodiversity (in the case of the Nyungwe) or something that is not present in many places throughout the world and should thus be safeguarded for future generations to discover. UNESCO World Heritage sites benefit the whole globe, not simply the regions where they are situated.
Nyungwe Forest National Park was included to the list of locations under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage property status in 2021, and it has been long overdue for the property to be acknowledged and included.
Why Nyungwe Forest National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park safeguards an old forest that has existed since the last ice age thousands of years ago. Because of its longevity, it has been able to gather and conserve an amazing biodiversity. The forest is home to several species found nowhere else on the earth, and researchers are constantly uncovering new animals, the majority of which is not found outside of Nyungwe Forest National Park and the Albertine Rift Valley.
Furthermore, there are relatively few forests like these left in Africa, therefore making Nyungwe Forest National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site is critical for safeguarding major worldwide ecosystems that have been endangered by human settlement and exploitation. Many of Africa’s similar woodlands have been depleted.
Nyungwe Forest is also a vital water catchment for the region and the continent of Africa, contributing water to the world’s longest river, the Nile River (the Nile’s furthest known source is situated in Nyungwe), and the Congo River. Nyungwe also provides 70% of Rwanda’s pure water.
How this new status will benefit Nyungwe Forest National Park and Rwanda in General?
This designation is critical for Nyungwe Forest National Park since it places it at the forefront of conservation efforts. As a world heritage site, Nyungwe national park will now get extra funds for protection. As a result, this critical ecosystem is more likely to survive.
Rwanda’s first UNESCO World Heritage site is an accomplishment worth celebrating, and it is a monument to the huge work put in by the Rwandan government to safeguard and preserve her natural treasures. Rwanda is committed to safeguarding natural resources and ecosystems in the face of enormous difficulties and constraints posed by an expanding and demanding population.
Seeing what Rwanda has done with the recovery of Akagera National Park, which was nearly extinct but now has all five of the big five, and the turnaround seen at Volcanoes National Park, where the gorilla population is growing every year and many baby gorillas are named during the Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony, Rwanda deserves to be recognized as one of the world’s greatest conservation successes.
What you can do in Nyungwe Forest National Park?
If you are planning a trip to Rwanda, a UNESCO World Heritage site should be on your itinerary. Nyungwe offers a variety of experiences for nature lovers.
The most popular activity is chimpanzee trekking, which allows you to hunt down a colony of chimps and spend an hour with them. It is one of the greatest animal interactions you can have. If you are visiting Rwanda for gorilla trekking, the greatest way to complement your vacation is to go chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park.
In Nyungwe National Park, there is a canopy walk adventure that you should not miss. The path offers stunning views of the jungle as well as up-close encounters with monkeys and birds. To get a sense of the vastness of Nyungwe Forest National Park, try East Africa’s tallest canopy walk, which has a metal bridge extended 50 meters above the forest floor. The views of Nyungwe National Park below are stunning, but they are not for the faint of heart.
Nyungwe National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, offering the finest chance to see Albertine Rift endemics such as the Rwenzori Turaco. There are about 310 species here, but like with most tropical woods, you’ll have to hunt hard for them. Among the specialties are giant hornbills, great blue turacos, and red-breasted sparrow hawks, 27 of which are exclusive to this portion of the Albertine Rift Valley.
Hiking/ Guided Nature Walks.
The Nyungwe Forest National Park offers around 130 kilometers of hiking routes that allow visitors to explore the park’s interior and fascinating ecosystems. The duration of walking trails in Nyungwe ranges from one to eight hours.
The Igishigishigi Trail is one of the shortest but offers East Africa’s largest canopy walk with amazing vistas of Nyungwe Forest, while the 6-hour Bigugu Trail ascends to the Park’s highest peak at 2950m.
The 10.6-kilometer-long Isumo waterfall pathway passes past tea farms, Nyungwe forest, and tree ferns, among other things. The Isumo waterfall trek lasts around 4 hours and includes views of monkeys, tree species, and various bird species.
Ngabwe trail, Ngabwe is a 4.7-kilometer-long short route. This walk takes you through the forest’s vegetation zones, where you may see primates such as colobus monkeys, chimps, and l’Hoest monkeys, among others.
Karamba trail in Nyungwe forest national park is a four-kilometer-long route that is one of the simplest in the park. Hiking the Karamba trek will take you through flat and open woodland regions. Karamba trail was previously a gold mine location, but it was subsequently converted into a quarry for road building materials and is now an army base.
This hiking trail in Nyungwe forest national park is ideal for birding since you will be able to see a variety of bird species, tree ferns, orchids, and monkeys, among other things, providing you the ultimate safari experience in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Because Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to over 300 different monkey species, monkey trekking is the park’s second most popular activity after chimp trekking. Monkey trekking is an excellent exercise since monkeys are active and vivid animals that will captivate you as you watch them hop from one tree to the next. Among the monkey species present in Nyungwe Forest National Park are blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, l’Hoest monkeys, and vervet monkeys.
How to Get to Nyungwe Forest National Park?
Drive south from Kigali across Lake Kivu to Nyungwe National Park. The travel from Kigali to Nyungwe National Park is approximately 225 kilometers long and takes around 6 hours.
Flying to Nyungwe Forest National Park is an option for people who want to avoid the long journey hours. Kigali International Airport is linked to Kamembe International Airport by RwandAir. After landing in Kamembe, you will travel 32 kilometers to the park.