Nyungwe Forest National Park Overview
Nyungwe Forest National Park lies in southwest Rwanda, partly abutting the Burundi border. It’s a vast area of mountain rain forest, 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. Address: KN6, Rusizi, Rwanda
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Activities & Highlights
- Chimpanzee Trekking
- Monkey Trekking
- Hikes,Bikes and Nature walks
- Mount Bigugu
- Canopy Walk
- Bird watching
- Communities and cultures
Activities in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Most visitors to Nyungwe Forest National Park go for chimpanzee-Monkey tracking, Hiking and Canopy walks which means that you will be one hour with a chimpanzee/Monkey group. At Nyungwe National Park Forest you can spend a whole day with a Chimpanzee Group in what is called a Chimpanzee Habituation Experience. It is an all-day experience from very early to late afternoon.
Hikes and Nature Walks:
One of the best ways to explore and enjoy the beauty of Nyungwe forest is by taking a hike through the forest. There are numerous trails in the forest. More than 130km of hiking trails for you to enjoy, as you walk through nature, view beautiful scenery and keep fit as and healthy as well. After all safaris are supposed to be good for your health. The Igishigishigi Trail and the bigugu trail are two of the most popular trail. One leads to the canopy walk, and the other leads to mount Bigugu.
Nyungwe Forest National Park has a large population of chimpanzees. And many who visit the park often go on a chimpanzee tracking adventure. There is no one season for chimpanzee tracking. It can be done all year round. The chimpanzees are not habituated like the gorillas so there is no guarantee of a sighting at particular places. But more often than not you will find the chimpanzees because they are quite common in the forest. The chimps are not as settled and orderly as the habituated gorillas are, which makes for an exciting tracking experience. With well trained and experienced guides, you will of course find the chimpanzees.
Monkey tracking might not be talked about as much as gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking usually are, but it is a fun and exciting activity as well. In Nyungwe forest there is quite the variety of monkey species. Including the rare and elusive golden monkey.
Monkey tracking trails in the park include: -The Waterfall Trail: this trail runs from Gisakura guest house to the Tea Estate where the colobus monkeys live. -The Bigugu Trail: as its name suggests, it leads up to Mt Bigugu. The trail runs up to the highest peak of the 2950m high mountain. -The Kamiranzovu Trail: this is a complete nature walk. It leads you to explore an entirely separate eco-system full of marshes and orchids. – The Unwika Campsite Trails: these are two trails. The Grey Trail which is 1 km long and the Red Trail which is 10 km long. They both lead to habituated group of about 400 Colobus monkeys
Nyungwe forest national park boasts of over 285 bird species.27 of these species are endemic to the Albertine Rift valley. Lots of colourful and interesting birds to see, the most notable being the Blue turaco. Ruwenzori Nightjar Caprimulgus ruwenzorii, Kungwe Apalis Apalis argentea, Ruwenzori Apalis Apalis ruwenzorii, Stripe-breasted Tit Parus fasciiventer, Archer’s Robin-chat Cossypha archeri, Dusky Crimson Wing Cryptospiza jacksoni, Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops, Shelley’s Crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi , Handsome Francolin Francolinus nobilis and Neumann’s Warbler Hemitesia neumanni are some of the birds that you might see in the park.
The canopy walk above Nyungwe forest is the only one of its kind in Africa. Built at an impressive 50m above the forest the Nyungwe canopy walk is not for the faint hearted. If you are afraid of heights you might want to get rid of the phobia before you travel because such a splendid sight should be seen by everyone.
Mount Bigugu found inside the park, and rising to a height of about 2950km above seas level is an attraction by itself as well. Here you can enjoy some mountain climbing, and beautiful views of the surrounding areas.
Community and culture
Just like most African communities, the Rwandan people in the Nyungwe have very rich and interesting culture. Discover Rwandan food, be entertained by cultural performers in song and dance, learn more about the history of the area and the country, and enjoy interaction with the locals. There are centers such as the Banda Community Village, Kitabi cultural village, and entertainment groups such as the friends of Nyungwe and the Cyamundongo cultural troupe, that bring the culture of the Rwandese people to life in different ways.
Nyugwe Forest Lodging Choices:
Nyungwe Forest Lodge
Nyungwe forest lodge was set up in 2010 and has fast become a favorite with tourists in the area. It is situated in a tea plantation close to the Nyungwe forest. This lodge was the first ever 5 star accommodation establishment in the region. It has some of the best facilities in Rwanda and very good service. Nyungwe forest lodge has luxury facilities such as a gym and a swimming pool, and over looks the forest canopy so you are guaranteed some good views of the scenery in the area.
Gisakura Guest House
Gisakura is comfortable accommodation for people working within smaller budgets. This guest house is found about 2 km from the park. It is located close to the Gisakura tea estate along the road to Rusizi. Gisakura offers opportunities to visit chimpanzees, the canopy walkway, bird watching, and hikes along different trails.
Nyungwe Top View Hotel
Nyungwe Top view hotel might not be a five star hotel but it offers pretty good accommodation close to the park. This hotel which opened in 2011, is only a five minutes drive Nyungwe forest national park and a 4-5 hour drive from Kigali and has some very amazing views of Nyungwe forest. Accommodation here is in red brick cottages furnished with only necessary furniture. There is a dining area and a lounge. Meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) are covered in full board costs.
Quick Nyungwe Forest NPK Facts
Size: Tucked away in the middle of tea Plantations, the biggest mountain rain forest on this side of the African continent can be a bit deceptive in its vastness if you simply catch a glimpse of it from a far.
Location: Nyungwe Forest is a tourist favourite with those on safari in Rwanda.
Desc: Nyungwe forest is probably the most preserved forest in Africa. Some say it is the most important site for biodiversity in Rwanda. It is home to over 1000 species of creation after all. safari destination, popular for its population of habituated chimpanzees and twelve other species of primates.
Areas of interest:
When to Visit: December to February and June to July is the best time to visit Nyungwe Forest National Park – during the dry season. However, you may also see the migratory birds.