Nyungwe Forest National Park is found in the southern part of Rwanda, bordering Burundi to the south, Democratic Republic of Congo to the west and lake Lake Kivu. The National park is a preserved park of Montane rainforest which is found in the central part of Africa. Nyungwe National park is located in the watershed which is in between river Nile basin in the East and River Congo in the west.
Nyungwe Forest National Park was formed in the early 20th century in the year of 2004. The park covers an area of about 980 square kilometers of grassland, swamps, bogs, bamboo and rainforest.
Nyungwe forest National park protects Mount Bigugu which is found at the park border. The nearest town to the park is approximately 54 km in the west and that is Cyangugu. Nyungwe Forest national park is Africa’s preserved forest and the park inhabits Rwanda’s Biodiversity and over 1000 natural species.
Nyungwe Forest national park inhabits over 15 primate species and these include the chimpanzees, olive baboon, Grey cheeked mangabey, Hamlyn monkey, Red tailed monkey, Dents mona, Golden monkeys, velvet monkeys, Silver monkeys, L’hoest’s and many more. It also has 300 bird species, within 0ver 2,000 tree species/plants, 90 mammal species, 40 reptiles including geckoes species and 40 amphibian species.
The animals that can be seen in the forest are only found in the Albertine Rift Montane forest, in the areas of the ecoregion of Africa. Therefore the big number of endemic species in Nyungwe forest are much more greater than the Albertine Rift mountain as recorded.
Nyungwe Forest National Park has an altitude of 4,000 meters above the sea level, favoring the presence of Angola Colobus and the chimpanzee. Nyungwe Forest National park has a number tourist activities to encounter including
Hiking trails; It has a favorable climate and biodiversity and there are a number of Forest hikes to experience in the park. There quite a number of forest trails covering about 130 kilometres on every trail head. You can be able to explore the habitats of the park and the forest walk is very exciting, taking about 1*8 hours of walking. There is the Igishigishi Trail and it is one of the trail hikes which takes on to the highest canopy walk in East Africa. On this canopy walk, you will enjoy the amazing views of the forest. Bigugu Trail head takes 6 hours and it leads to the mountain in Nyungwe forest which is high above at 3000m. The trail heads in Nyungwe forest give one an opportunity to see the flowers, birds, primates, trees, butterflies among other wildlife species.
Birding safaris; there are a number of bird species to spot with over 400 species that are protected in Nyungwe Forest national park. There are great opportunities, since it’s even a tropical rainforest. You will spot many of them and the birds include Giant hornbills, the greater blue turaco, greater black Turaco, red-breasted, sparrow hawks and many more. The 27 bird species are endemic and are living in the Albertine rift valley. A birding guide will escort you through the forest and help to identify a number of bird species. The trail heads are thick and birds might be hard to spot, therefore be keen. During the dry seasons there many migrating birds to see, however during the wet season it’s not the best time to visit the park for birding.
Canopy walk; The canopy walk takes a maximum 30 minutes to hike from Uwinka the visitors briefing center. The Canopy walk is 60 meters high above the ground and you will see the rain forest. It’s really amazing for anyone who is not afraid of heights.
Chimpanzee trekking is also another activity in Nyungwe Forest which is a natural habitat for chimpanzees. However the forest is very slippery during the rainy season. You will need to walk using sturdy shoes, wear long sleeved clothing, carry your packed lunch & water. You will have an amazing moment as you see them play, groom each other, feed and much more. You will spend one hour with the chimpanzees as they continue with their day to today activities in their natural habitat. The trek costs 90 USD. Carry Binoculars just incase the chimpanzees are high on the trees in that you won’t have a clear view of them in the forest. The trail heads are many since the chimpanzees are wild inhabitants and they keep moving from place to place. You will need to be physically fit and you will look no further.
Nyungwe Forest national park has a number of accommodation facilities including ; Nyungwe Forest Lodge which is a luxury lodge, where one can consider staying for an overnight. The lodge is a 5 star lodge, with amazing local cultural experiences, a fitness center, pool side, Jacuzzi pool, Boutique, tea lounge, conference and restaurant.
Another lodge you would be interested in is Nyungwe Top view Hill Hotel which is a mid range safari lodge. The lodge invites us as visitors to go through adventures in this national park which include trekking the chimpanzees, canopy walk, forest walk among others.
Among the lodges that you might find interesting is Gisakura Guest House which is located about 2 kilometers away from Nyungwe Forest National Park. It also happens to be nice for the budget travelers.
Wilderness campsite is also another accommodation facility located near Mount Bigugu peak camp and it will give you an amazing experience when you visit Nyungwe national park on safari.