Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is located 225Km south of Kigali City touching borders with and an extension of Kibira National Park in Burundi. Nyungwe, a habitat with no less than 260 species of trees and shrubs, 100 species of orchids and giant lobelias, had been set aside as a crown land since the early 1900s. Nyungwe was later recognized as a national park in 2004 because of increased ecological value. Nyungwe is a perfect postcard of a destination for the adventure traveler on tour into Rwanda seeking cool places with quiet corners in which to explore and discover the authentic beauty of the African wilderness.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a hallmark of dream Rwanda tour destinations. Nyungwe ranges 1600m-2950m above sea level and like much of Rwanda, a mountainous region. On average Nyungwe receives 1800mm-2500mm amounts of rainfall and 15°C temperature annually. This is a favorable combination of weather and climate conducive for plant growth.
Little wonder Nyungwe’s 970Km2 area coverage of the montane forest is the largest of the kind on the African continent. During the rainy season, September to May, temperatures are at their lowest and sun is a rare occurrence. Increased temperatures and low rainfall characterize the dry seasons, June to August and a brief period between Decembers to January.
POPULAR ACTIVITIES AT NYUNGWE FOREST NP
Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to more than 75 mammal species. 13 of them are primate species. Because Nyungwe is a rain forest and enclosed environment, most of the mammals are rarely seen save for the footmarks, waste droppings and other signs. Notable mammals residents in Nyungwe Forest National Park are a leopard, African civet, duikers, tree hyrax, Genet, golden cat, serval cat, side-stripped jackal, among others. Primate species are more visible and a magnet for travelers on tour of Rwanda. Chimpanzees, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Red -tailed monkey, Silver monkey, Ruwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, Golden monkey, Owl-faced monkey, Den’t Mona monkey are notable sightings on tour into Rwanda. Chimpanzees, more than any other mammal species, attract travelers on safari into Rwanda to visit Nyungwe forest. Chimpanzee tracking expeditions set out every morning to explore, traverse the thick forests and discover the families of chimpanzees feeding. There are some trips set for nyungwe primates viewing which you can take part in
The tour to Nyungwe forest National Park offers travelers on tour into Rwanda an opportunity to interact with, explore the traditional systems and discover the lifestyle of the indigenous Rwandan people. Many travelers on tour of Rwanda break the journey at Butare 90km away towards Kigali City to visit and explore the ethnological museum where history of Rwanda is safely preserved. In the neighborhood is the ancient Rwanda traditional King’s Palace at Nyanza. Many travelers on safari to Rwanda visit both places to explore and discover truer impressions of the Rwandan cultural systems. There are options of arranging specific visits to select indigenous community homesteads to interact with and share life experiences with indigenous Rwandans. On such cultural tours, travelers experience, learn and participate in music, dance, storytelling, herbal medicine, local beer brewing, hunting skills and other traditional skills.
Holidays in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a 4-5 hour drive from Kigali on good if sometimes winding roads. There are some attractions en route that include Nyanza King’s Palace and the National Museum should you wish to break the journey.
The Uwinka Visitor Centre, inside the Park, is well worth a visit, with information on the history of Nyungwe, its fauna and flora, and local culture. This is also the place to hire guides, which are compulsory for any hikes within Nyungwe National Park.
Wildlife in Nyungwe Forest
Forest National Park includes the largest swathe of remaining montane forest in East or Central Africa. It harbors about 310 different bird species, hundreds of butterflies and orchids, and over 75 different species of mammals – including 13 primates (about a quarter of all Africa’s primates).
In excess of 275 bird species sightings are on record in Nyungwe forest making her an Important Birding Area in Rwanda. Nyungwe is Rwanda birding safaris prime destination to spot rare forest bird species. White-headed wood hoopoe, Ross’s turaco, Kivu ground thrush, Ruwenzori turaco, Ruwenzori batis, Olive and Elliot’s woodpecker, Kungwe apalis are amongst rare bird species anywhere else but possible sightings in Nyungwe forest.
Suspended above a ravine in the lush montane rainforest of Nyungwe National Park, the canopy walkway provides an exhilarating perspective on the ancient treetops and wildlife.
The 160m long and 70m high suspension bridge is accessible as part of a guided tour along the Igishigishigi trail or to those hiking the Imbaraga or Umuyove trails.
Having escaped the last ice age, the Nyungwe forest is a hotbed of biodiversity. Along the hour’s walk to the canopy walkway from the Uwinka Reception Centre, visitors will see countless butterflies, orchids and colorful birds, including many endemic to the region.
Thirteen species of primate live in Nyungwe, so a chance encounter isn’t out of the question, although those wishing to seek them out should opt for a dedicated primate visit.
The steep forested slopes have well-maintained footpaths, which can become muddy, especially after rain.
Nyungwe is a popular Rwanda tour destination for hiking safaris. Rangers escort travelers on Rwanda safari onto a clear network of trail system to wander into and explore the Nyungwe wilderness. Kamiranzovu trail, 13Km is absolute gem of pure marsh where wildlife species produce amazing sounds and sceneries. The Congo-Nile trail system, close to 230km long, takes a couple of days to complete, gives hikers on tour into Rwanda more time to explore and discover unique wilderness experiences. Hiking Mt Bigugu 2,925m offers hikers on tour of Rwanda exciting combination of body exercise, thrilling experiences, adventure and fun all rolled in one.