Located in the South West corner of Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is an untouched natural rainforest that is filled with exciting biodiversity.
Covering over 1000 square kilomtres, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through
the Ice Age, which explains its diversity. Home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal.
This majestic rainforest is filled with nature and wildlife experiences for you to emerge yourself in. Hiking or even biking the beautiful terrain, tracking the famous chimpanzees, experiencing the canopy walk, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls are just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers. Sounds and views collaborate to create a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience. Exploring through the forest, travellers will witness the lush green mountains and cooling mist in a landscape that won’t be soon forgotten.
Cultural activities are also available around the forest.
The Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, making it a priority for conservation in Africa. The forest is situated in a region in which several large-scale biogeographical zones meet and the variety of terrestrial biomes provides a great span of microhabitats for many different species of plants and animals.
The park contains 13 different primate species (25% of Africa’s total), 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. Many of these animals are restricted-range species that are only found in the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion in Africa. In fact, the number of endemic species found here is greater than in any other forest in the Albertine Rift Mountains that has been surveyed. The forest, which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes – Blumenbach, 1775) and Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis – Sclater 1860), the latter now extinct in Angola for the intense hunt to which they were subjected.
Other primate species include; L’Hoest’s Monkey, Silver Monkey, Hamlyn’s Monkey, Red-tailed Monkey, Dent’s Mona Monkey, Vervet Monkey, Olive Baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey (Lophocebus albigena)
Forest Hikes and Trails in Nyungwe Park
Visitors can spend up to several days here hiking the various trails, exploring the ancient rainforest and discover the various habitats found in the forest. Hiking in Nyungwe Forest is a time of discovery in a primal rainforest that will simply amaze most visitors with its fairly tale like appearance wildlife, primates, birds, butterflies, flowers, and trees.
Nyungwe Forest Bird Walk
For avid birders and those keen to see some of the 300 birds that are supposed to live in the Nuyngwe Rainforest, a trip here gives you greater opportunities.The birds in Nyungwe Forest National Park are spectacular. And although as in most tropical forests, you’ll have to look hard for them. The Giant hornbills, the greater blue, Ruwenzori and greater black Turaco may not be the most rare birds, but spectacularly beautiful! And red-breasted sparrowhawks are among the specials, of which 27 are endemic to this section of the Albertine Rift Valley.
A permit and a guide is of course needed to enter into the forest. The guide can easily identify a lot of birds by call as the jungle is really thick and it is very difficult to spot without them. I would not suggest going without a guide, even if it was allowed. If you are keen on birds, you might consider trying more than just one trail to see a reasonable number of birds.
Tip: Birding here is obviously best during the long dry season when the migrants are around but not the best activity for the rain season.
Nyungwe Canopy walk and Hike
The Nyungwe Canopy Tour is simply amazing! A bit scary, but very worth the effort! Amazing views! The canopy walk starts with a 30-minute hike from the Uwinka Visitors Centre inside the park. The visitor’s centre offers decent bathroom facilities and a cafe. The canopy walk is 50 meters above the ground and offers spectacular views of the valley below. You get an opportunity to see the rainforest from above. Really enjoyable – unless of course you’re afraid of heights but fortunately, there is a bypass so that if a sudden fear of heights come over you, you can still rejoin your group.
Chimp Tracking In Nyungwe Forest National Park
Visited Nyungwe to observe chimpanzees along with other primates in their natural habitat. The rain forest was so dense! You need to wear sturdy walking shoes and long trousers and a long sleeved top/shirt as you actually pass through the rainforest foliage off the beaten track following the guides as they lead you to the best locations to view the chimps, guided by their hard-working trackers. Bring your day-pack where you have a couple of water. It takes time to locate the chimps during a trek in this forest, but patience will of course pay you off.