Nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park is one of the most forest destination in Rwanda found in the south western region, the park is situated on Rwanda-Burundi border in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. Nyungwe forest national park established in 2004 covers an area of 970 square kilometers, cyangugu town is the nearest town to the park 54 kilometers westwards.
Attractions in nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park is a prominent habitant for primates in Rwanda, the park is a home to 13 species of primates which reside the thick forest of Nyungwe (these primates make 25% of Africa’s population). The most notable primate in the park is chimpanzees which are in large population, primates in the forest include common chimpanzee, silver monkey, golden monkey, Hamlyn’s monkey, red-tailed monkey, dent’s mona monkey, vervet monkey, olive baboon, Ruwenzori monkey, L’Hoest’s and grey-checked mangabey.
Apart primates which are trade mark wildlife in Nyungwe forest national park, the park is a habitant to 85 mammal species and they include leopard, African civet, duikers, tree hyrax, Genet, golden cat, serval cat, side-stripped jackal and many more. There is also 32 amphibian species and 38 reptile species living in the park.
Nyungwe forest national park is a recognized habitat for many colorful bird species which thrive in the thick forest trees of nyungwe forest, bird species in the park are recorded to be approximately 310 bird species. Out of the big bird population the park 27 bird species are recognized as Albertine rift endemics such as red collared bird, Rockefeller’s sunbird, Albertine owlet, Ruwenzori turaco. Handsome francolin, red faced woodland warbler and 121 species are classified as forest species. Other bird species in Nyungwe forest national park include 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.
High raised canopy is the most exciting attraction in nyungwe forest national park, the canopy is a 160 long and 70 meter high suspended bridge above the montane tree cover of nyungwe forest. The Canopy facilitates the adventurous canopy walk in the park where you get to enjoy the scenic panoramic view of the forest and the park from the top.
Nyungwe forest national park is dominated by a 1,015 square kilometers tropical afro montane rain forest which considered to be the only remaining in East Africa and the best preserved montane rain forest in central Africa. The park also features grassland, swamps, bogs and bamboo vegetation.
Tourist activities in nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park is a renowned home for primates with big population of chimpanzees, chimpanzee tracking expedition starts early in the morning at 6:00 am. The essence of starting the expedition early in the morning is that you get to see chimpanzees as they are feeding, breast feed their young ones and waking up from their nest. This activity takes 3-4 hours but it might probably take half a day while looking for chimpanzees in the thick forests of nyungwe that is why at times you might carry a lunch box and bottled water with you. Since you are to navigate through the thick forests some of the essentials you should carry with for the expedition is long sleeved trousers, long sleeved shirts, rain jacket and hiking boots.
While on chimpanzee tracking expedition you also spot other primates in the forests such as acrobatic Ruwenzori colobus, L’hoests monkey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, golden monkey, Hamlys monkey.
Nyungwe forest canopy walk
Nyungwe forest canopy walk is an extra entertaining and adventurous activity taking place on a 200 meters long and 50 meters high metallic canopy raised above the nyungwe forest cover, canopy walk takes about 2 hour of adventure for completion. On canopy walk you get to eagle eye panoramic view of the forest from the top. Nyungwe forest is known to be the largest remaining tropical afro montane rainforest in East Africa, the forest is a habitant to many birds which are seen on top of the forest as you walk on the canopy.
NOTE: though canopy walk is one of the trade mark activity in nyungwe forest national park, children tourists are not allowed to participate in the activity because of safety reasons.
Nyungwe forest national park offers the most fascinating and memorable bird watching experience in Rwanda, nyungwe forest contains numerous bird species which habit in the thick forest vegetation. Birds in the forest are spotted while on canopy walk, hiking and nature/forest walk through the park and birds spotted include 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. On bird watching expedition there are trails which you can follow for easy spotting of the birds such as karamba trail.
Hiking/ nature walk
Hiking is extensively done in nyungwe forest national park and it is a very fun and exciting activity, hiking is one of the best way of touring the port and encountering a variety attractions enclosed in the vast land of nyungwe forest national park. In hiking Rwanda safari there is recognized trails which are used by tourists to navigate through the park such as
Bigugu trail: This trail leads to Lake Kivu and numerous hills of Democratic republic of Congo, as you hike on this trail you get to spot many colorful bird species such as red collard mountain babbler, wildflowers such as red hot pikers, giant lobelias, orchids and many more
Kamiranzovu trail: This trail starts from the forested main road downhill leading to relatively low lying Kamiranzovu, as you hike on this trail you pass through the largest swamp in the park which is found in a caldera like depression.
Ngabwe trail: Ngabwe trail is a new circular trail running g across the slopes of Ngabwe near the park’s eastern boundary, this trail is more ideal to tourists staying at KCCEM guest house as it is situated 200 meters down the left side of the main road which is 3kilometers past kitabi entrance gate
Karamba: This is the easiest route for hiking in nyungwe forest national park, this trail is ideal for bird watching as many bird species such as 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 are spotted as you hike.
Isumo trail: This trail is one of the amazing trails in the park, hiking on this trail you strategy from Gisakura tea plantation leading to the magnificent largest water in nyungwe forest national park.
Nyungwe forest national park is surrounded by local Rwandese communities where you encounter authentic
Rwandese culture upon your visit in these communities, accompanied by an experienced guide you get to enjoy the African local vibe surrounding these communities as you interact with the locals. As a tourist you can engage in activities like dance ceremony, banana beer production, traditional medicine making. Local maize grinding and bow and target shooting. These activities are organized by the community through their community based groups intended to conserve and protect Rwanda eco-system at the same time earn some money which is invested in the community projects.
Accommodation in nyungwe forest national park
Accommodation in nyungwe forest national park is not so much in a variety it is very limited to three accommodation facilities that is nyungwe forest lodge a luxury status accommodation facility, Nyungwe top view lodge (mid-range) and Gisakura guest house. Other accommodation facilities can be got towns neighboring the park.