Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest Nyungwe forest national park is a remarkable biodiversity destination located in the south western region of Rwanda in the watershed between the basin of river Congo to the west and the basin of river Nile to the east. Nyungwe forest national park covers an area of 970 square kilometers stretching to the border of Rwanda and Burundi in the south.
Nyungwe forest national park is one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rain forests in the world, this forest originates from northern Uganda and congo, it continues to spread to through Rwenzori mountains, western Rwanda and Burundi to the shores of Lake Victoria, the forest is dominated by series of mountains.
The park was established in 2004 primarily to protect and conserve the beautiful ecological system found in this place.
Tourist attractions in the park
Nyungwe forest national park is a prominent and loved tourist destination not just by intuition, it is because it made up of many fascinating tourist attractions which include.
- Wildlife: Nyungwe forest national park is a beautiful habitat of various species of fauna which live in the thick forests of Nyungwe which include primates and mammals.
- Primates: The park is a home to recorded 13 species of primates which comfortably live in the forests and can be seen while trekking in the forest, these primates include chimpanzees, Rwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, silver monkey, golden monkey, owl-faced monkey, red-tailed monkey, Den’t mona monkey, vervet monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey and three species of bushbabys. Among the primates in the forest, there is 300 colobus and 500 chimpanzee individuals of colobus monkeys the prominent residence primates in the park.
- Mammals: Nyungwe forest national park offers an habitant to fantastic mammal species which include side stripped jackal, civet, golden cats, duikers, leopard, giant forest hogs, golden cats, serval cats and many more.
- Birds: Nyungwe forest national park is fully covered with montane forest which is an habitant to 300 bird species, among these bird species 120 of them are forest species, 16 of them are endemic to Albertine rift and 16 of the species are endemic to the park. Bird species habiting in Nyungwe forest national park include white tailed blue fly-catcher, handsome francolin, Rwenzori batis, red collared mountain babblers, purple breasted sunbirds, Ruwenzori turaco, and black and white casqued, red-throated alethe and many more.
- Canopy: Nyungwe forest national park consists of 50 meters and 200 meters raised canopy above the group which is a major attraction in the park, this canopy is one of the kind in east Africa and the third in the whole of Africa. The canopy’s construction was funded and inspired by the Rwanda development board (RDB), this metallic walkway is used by tourists to tour the mysteries of the park.
- Flora/vegetation: Nyungwe forest national park is covered by Albertine rift montane rainforest which only dominates in the Albertine rift area, Albertine rift montane forest originates from lendu plateau in northern Uganda and Congo running southwards through Rwenzori mountains to western Rwanda and democratic republic of congo. Nyungwe forest national park consists of 1,000 square kilometers forest which features over 1068 flora species, among these species 200 species are tree species including orchids, giant lobelia and vegetation zones such as sub-alpine vegetation dominated by shrubs and bamboo. 68 of the species are endemic to the park including orchids, talenna rwandesis, mahogany, miliatus holistic and many more. The park is also dominated by bamboo grassland, swamps, and bogs.
Things to do in Nyungwe forest national park
When you visit Nyungwe forest national park be sure to have the best time of your safari experience through many tourist activities offered in Nyungwe forest national park. These spectacular activities include
Chimpanzee trekking: Nyungwe forest national park is a habitat to over 400 chimpanzee species that are habituated for Chimpanzee trekking. chimpanzees live in two communities one community is found in Cyamudongo section of Nyungwe forest and another around Uwinka area. Chimpanzee trekking takes place in the thick forests of nyungwe and this activity starts as early as 5:00 am in the morning with briefing, as you walk in the forest you will encounter many chimpanzees, butterflies and other primates like Rwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, silver monkey, golden monkey, owl-faced monkey, red-tailed monkey, Den’t mona monkey, vervet monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey and bushbabys.
With the aid of a professional tour guide, you will learn more about the primates and the park.
Canopy walk: The canopy walk is a very entertaining activity to take part in the park taking place on a 50 meters high steel canopy bridge built above treetops, canopy walkway in the park is offered in 3 walking sections such as that is 90 meters longest stretch, 45 meters stretch and 25 shortest 25 meters stretch
The canopy walk is Nyungwe forest national park is a 2 hours’ activity starting at the visitors’ centre in Uwinka and while on it you get to enjoy great scenic views of the park while spotting primates and birds on treetops.
Bird watching: Nyungwe forest national park is a very fascinating birding site making it the best bird spotting site in Rwanda, the park is a habitat to approximately 300 bird species mostly forest bird species that are spotted in the forest on a daily basis. Birds spotted in the park include Chestnut Owlet, Olive and Elliot’s Woodpeckers, Great Blue and Ruwenzori Turacos, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Stripe-breasted Tit, the remarkable Red-collared Babbler, Archer’s Robin-Chat, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Doherty’s Bush-Shrike, Handsome Francolin Mountain Masked, Black-faced, Chapin’s Flycatcher, Purple-breasted and Regal Sun-birds, Chestnut-throated, Collared Apalis, Rwenzori Batis, Neumann’s Short-tailed Warbler, White-tailed Blue-flycatcher and many more.
Nature and hiking walks: Nature walks in nyungwe forest national park takes you through the steep landscape of the park while following a number of trails which lead you to various attractions like chimpanzees, Rwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, silver monkey, golden monkey, owl-faced monkey, red-tailed monkey, vervet monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey and animals like civet, golden cats, duikers, leopard, giant forest hogs, golden cats, serval cats and many more. In the park, you do not only get to enjoy the fresh air and cool breeze.
As you hike in the forest you get to use the Congo-Nile divide trail, the trail is 227 kilometers full of many attractions like scenic sights.
Gisakura plantation tour: Outside the park, visiting the Gisakura tea plantation tour which is situated on the edges of the Nyungwe forest national park, when you visit this plantation you get to participate in activities like tea picking and interacting with the local farmers.
While hiking and canopy in the park there is a number of trails which are used, these trails are named according to tree species found on these trails, these trails include
- Umuyove trail named after a Kinyarwanda word referring to mahogany trees which are found on his trail
- Umugote trail meaning viewpoint, this trail is a 3.6-kilometer trail leading to the highest peaks of the park.
- Karamba trail is a least muddy trail in the park, it is also relatively a flat trail of 4-kilometers. Other trails include Isumo trail, Rukuzi trail, Irebero trail and many more.
Where to stay in Nyungwe national park
- Gisakura guest house: Gisakura guest house is a friendly accommodation facility situated at a distance of 2 kilometers outside the park within gisakura tea estate along the route that connects to Cyangugu from the park.
- Nyungwe forest lodge: Nyungwe forest lodge is a luxury kind of accommodation offers perfect views of the ancient rain forest, this facility features a swimming pool, Jacuzzi pool, boutique store, fitness center, tea lounge, and world-class restaurant all to warm up your stay. Accommodation is offered in 22 luxury rooms that is 2 presidential suite, 6 wooden villas featuring 4 rooms each.
- Nyungwe top view hill hotel: Nyungwe top view hilltop is a midrange accommodation facility situated inside the park, accommodation in this facility is offered in form of 12 units that’s is 8 apartments, 4 rooms.
- Camping: there is many camping sites in the park open for visitors, these sites include wilderness campsites, mount bigugu peak, and Congo-Nile divide trail sites.
How to get to Nyungwe national park
Nyungwe forest national park is located in the south western region of Rwanda close to Lake Kivu and the democratic republic of Congo and near Cyangugu town, from Kigali city, the capital city of Rwanda is a drive of 4-5 hours’ drive covering 225 kilometers. The park can be reached using both road and air transport, by road you can use either public means of transport or private car, by air means of transport you use a helicopter flight from Kigali landing at Nyungwe forest lodge.