Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda

Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda

One of the oldest rainforests in Africa, Nyungwe is rich in biodiversity and spectacularly beautiful. Primate tracking tops most visitors’ lists, but it’s worth lingering a little longer for those with time to relax and take in the primal atmosphere.

Botanists will marvel at the 1,068 plant species and 140 orchids. The birding trips are among the best in Africa with 322 bird species including Red-collared Babbler and 29 other Albertine Rift Endemic species. Butterflies are also a common sight, with at least 120 species.

The mountainous region is teaming with wildlife, including a small population of Chimpanzees as well as 12 other species of primate, including the L’Hoest monkey endemic to the Albertine Rift. With 15 trails, some of which are detailed on the official website here, along with various other activities, visitors can choose to sample the delights of the forest or indulge themselves for a week or more in one of Africa’s most stunning forests.

There are 75 known mammals in Nyungwe, such as the Serval cat, mongoose, Congo clawless otter, and leopard to name but a few. Many tend to be shy so sightings are luck of the draw.

Memorable and photogenic moments include walking up to the Isumo waterfall or along the canopy walk suspension bridge. Tea plantation borders the edges of the park, with a habituated troop of Ruwenzori colobus monkeys at Gisakura as well as forest fringe birds.

With plenty of rainfall, Nyungwe is also the major catchment area in Rwanda and supplies water to 70% of the country.

A ridge running through the forest forms a watershed between the drainage systems of the Nile and the Congo. A spring on the slopes of Mt Bigugu is said to be the most remote source of the Nile, the world’s longest river.

Size of Nyungwe forest national park

Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 970 km2 of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. The nearest town is Cyangugu, 54 km to the west. Mount Bigugu is located within the park’s borders.

Location of Nyungwe forest national park

Nyungwe National Park lies in southwest Rwanda, partly abutting the Burundi border with Kibira national park. It’s a vast area of mountain rainforest, home to many species of chimpanzees, plus owl-faced and colobus monkeys. The Canopy Walkway, part of the Igishigishigi Trail, is a high suspension bridge with views over the valley and surrounding forests. A trail runs to the Kamiranzovu Marsh, with its birdlife, orchids, and waterfall.

How to get to Nyungwe forest national park?

By Road

From Kigali via Muhanga-Huye Nyungwe Forest national park is located south of the country about 200km/124mi from Rwandan capital Kigali via Muhanga and kings palace in Nyanza then proceeding to Butare from Butale then you connect through the hilly roads to the park before arriving at the park headquarters in Gisekura. From Huye Nyungwe forest national park is located 87km/54mi from Huye (Butare) as many tourists tend to make an overnight in Huye in order to do activities on the way to the forest this is advisable as the direct trip can be stressful, From Rusizi/Kamembe airport Nyungwe forest is 55km/34mi from Rusizi. The drive takes about an hour for clients to fly into the park usually; Nyungwe Forest is visited as part of a 4×4 tour around the country with a driver-guide.

By Air

Akagera Aviation offers charter helicopter transfers to Nyungwe forest national park and this can land directly at the one &only Nyungwe house however those who use Rwanda Air will land at Kamembe airport in Rusizi which is an hour drive to the park headquarters.

Things to do in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Chimpanzee trekking experience

Nyungwe forest national park has the highest population of chimpanzees in Rwanda roughly 400 individuals, Chimpanzee trekking is a major activity done in Nyungwe forest national park. On the actual day of trekking, travelers transfer to Gisekura park headquarters where they attend a simple bring about the trekking rules before embarking on a drive to Cyamudongo park station which is a 2-hour drive from Gisekura park headquarters through the incredible tea farms that give you one of the best views of the forest.

Bird watching

Nyungwe is home to over 300 bird species, Nyungwe forest national park is the best birding spot in Rwanda due to its manageable walking terrain compared to volcanoes national park. Out of the total bird population in Nyungwe forest, 121 are forest birds while 27 are endemic to the Albertine rift valley. The most spotted birds in Nyungwe forest national park include Rockefeller’s sunbird, Chapin’s flycatcher, Great blue Turaco, red collared mountain babbler, Rear Grauer’s rush warbler, Rwenzori Turaco, white-tailed flycatcher, Rwenzori Batis, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori nigh jar, Rwenzori hill babbler, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Congo bay owlet, Mountain Sooty Boubou, and the Neumann’s warbler among others. Experienced guides help in spotting these birds as well as explaining the unique characters of each spotted bird in the forest.

Monkey trekking

Nyungwe forest national park is home to over 300 monkey species hence the best spot for monkey trekking. While in Nyungwe forest national park, expect to meet different species of monkeys, which include L’ hoest monkeys, black and white colobus, blue monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys among others. These monkeys are similar in character but are only differentiated by their colors. Monkey trekking is a very joyful experience given that monkeys are lively and playful creatures that keep you alert all the time by their continuous movements, shouts while jumping over you across tree branches.

Forest walks and hiking trails

A forest walk/ hiking trail is the best way to explore in full the beauty of Nyungwe forest national park. The national park has over 13 hiking trails, which are approximately 130 kilometers, which lead travelers into the interior of the forest. Each trail leads to a different point such as waterfalls caves and swamps and each trail offer unique features. The hiking trails include the Igishigishigi trail, the Bigugu trail, the Ngabwe trail, Isumo waterfall trail, the Kamiranzovu marsh trail, the Karamba birding trail, Source of the Nile trail, Irebero trail, Muzimu trail, Imbaraga trail, Congo Nile trail, Umoyove trail, and Rukuzi trail among others.

Canopy walk

The canopy walk is 200 meters walk above the forest and is only done in Nyungwe forest national park in the whole of east Africa. Travelers walk on the built trail, which hangs 60 meters above the forest rewarding them with an aerial view of the national park, wildlife, adjacent communities, Virunga volcanoes, and attractions in the neighboring countries. The two hours walk start and end at the national park headquarters at Uwinka information center the national park headquarters and it’s also the endpoint.

When to visit Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe National Park has a pleasant climate that makes it perfect for your safari activities in the park during the dry season. Since its forests lie at heights of 1600 to 2000 meters above sea level, it has a cool, temperate climate that visitors generally find pleasant. Rwanda, is located at a higher altitude, coupled with a latitude just two degrees south of the equator, makes for particularly comfortable tropical conditions. Daytime high temperatures typically range between 25C and 27C (77F to 81F) degrees, while the nights are cooler and temperatures typically hover around a minimum of 13.5C (56F), and rarely higher than 16C (61F).

So the best time to visit Nyungwe forest national park is from late May to early September and from December to February.

Where to stay in Nyungwe Forest National Park?

Nyungwe forest has a variety of accommodation facilities near the area and clients can easily choose to either stay at the Luxury One&only Nyungwe house or they can alternatively stay at the mid-range Nyungwe hilltop view lodge for more information contact Wilderness Explorers Africa for your Rwanda Safaris.