Nyungwe Forest National Park is located southwest of Rwanda close to the border with Burundi, south of Lake Kivu and west of DR Congo. The park is endowed with great species plus diversity with over 1000 plant species, 85 mammals, 38 reptiles, 120 butterfly species and 300 birds. The biodiversity of Nyungwe forest is even further enriched with other beautiful landscapes including swamps, heath, bamboo thickets and open woodlands. Nyungwe is best known for its primates including the chimpanzees and large troops of white and black Colobus monkeys. There are various top activities to do in Nyungwe Forest National Park like the Canopy Walkway, part of the Igishigishigi Trail, which is a high suspension bridge with views over the valley plus other activities of which one will have to pay for a permit which can be purchase from the Rwandese National Park Authorities
The population of chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest Park is the second highest in Africa after Kibale Forest National Park. the park has different trails to walk through in search for these great apes. On these treks one will have an opportunity of seeing chimpanzee swing in trees and mother chimps cuddling their young. These treks start early in the morning about 5am and normally starts with a briefing with the game rangers. For one to trek chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park one needs to have a Chimpanzee permit which can be purchase from Rwanda Development Board or Rwanda National Park Authorities.
Bird Watching in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the best destinations for birding in Africa because it is home to over 300 bird species including 29 albertine endemic species, these include the Great Blue Turaco, Red-Breasted Sparrow Hawk, White Headed Wood Hoopoe, the Re-Throated Alethe, the Paradise Flycatcher and the Gigantic Forest Hornbill, Green Pigeons, Ross’s Turaco, Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Red-Faced Woodland Warbler, the purple breasted and the blue headed sunbird, the Rockefeller’s Sunbird, Ruwenzori Batis, Stripe-Breasted Tit, Collared Apalis, Mountain Masked Apalis and the Regal Sunbird. Since this is a forest spotting the birds may sometimes be hard hence one needs an experienced guide to guide you during the walk through the forest.
The Canopy walk in Nyungwe forest National Park takes about a 3 hour walk on a 200 meters long trail located 50 meters above the forest cover since Nyungwe Forest sits on a 1015 sq Km. The view at the top of the trees gives you the eagle’s eye experience and great experience of Nyungwe forest plus one can have an opportunity to see various primates.
Hiking through the forest
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the place where you can thrive on walks and take pleasure in a good hike. The park has a total of 13 different hiking trails along which you can walk for 1 to 8 hours viewing a multitude of plant, tree, bird, primates and butterfly species of all sorts of which the Igishigishigi Trail is the shortest trail along which you also find the canopy walk while the longest trail at Nyungwe Forest National Park is the Bigugu Trail upon which a hike can take up to 8 hours. Each trail offers its own diverse wildlife experience showing you species that are predominantly found in this particular trail.
Colobus Monkey Trekking
Nyungwe Forest has 13 primate species of which more than half of these are monkey species. Some of the monkeys are endemic to this region and among these are the Rwenzori Colubus Monkeys. A hike along one of the 13 hiking trails in Nyungwe will usher you into the world of the Grey-Cheeked Mangabeys, L’Hoest Monkeys, Owl Faced Monkeys, Blue-Monkeys and Mona Monkeys. Further on into to the forest and off the beaten track of the trails one can have a chance to see a group of about 200 Rwenzori Colubus Monkeys all at once.
How to Reach Nyungwe Forest National Park
The distance from Kigali to Nyungwe National Park is approximately 225 kilometers which will take you 4 to 5 hours drive to get to the park by road and one can use the following means of transport to get there.
By Bus: One can use or board buses heading to Ruzizi from Nyabugogo Bus Park in Kigali then get off at Uwinka Center the bus ride may take 5 hours to reach this center.
By Private Car: One can also hire a private car which is much more comfortable, convenient and will take a much shorter time to get the park.
By Air: One can use RwandAir which offers domestic flights with 9 flights a week from Kigali to Kamembe International Airport which is just 32 km from Nyungwe forest National Park. This is the fastest means of transport you can take to get to the park though slightly expensive and one may need a pick up from the airport and transfer to the lodge.
Where to stay in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Lodges in Nyungwe Forest National Park include;
1) Nyungwe Forest Lodge
2) Nyungwe House
3) Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel
4) Gisakura Family Hostel
Best time for Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
The best time for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park is during June, July and August every year because during this time the fig trees have fruits which chimpanzees feed and this makes finding them easy. There are only two groups open for chimpanzee trekking and each group accommodates 8 tourists, this means you will need to book in advance for you to be able to trek these chimpanzees.
What to pack or come with for Chimpanzee Trekking