Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the biggest national parks that have boosted the tourism industry of Rwanda as a nation generating millions annually. Nyungwe is well known for chimpanzee tracking this has been the main activity that is carried out in Nyungwe forest. The National Park has only 2 gorilla groups habituated in it and the small one of 30 chimpanzees is tracked in Cyamudongo Forest area of the Park. The larger group has about 60 chimpanzees habituated in it. Nyungwe forest is Africa’s largest Afro-Montane Forest and another of the most famous activities is Nyungwe Forest National Park is the Canopy walk where travelers get to hike up to the top of the trees and take a walk on a hanging bridges as they admire the beauty if the forest.
The forest is located southwest of Rwanda towards the border with Burundi, south of Lake Kivu and west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nyungwe National park also is found in the District of Rusizi which is located in the South western part of Uganda. Rusizi district is a home to the park as well as Africa’s great river on the east side of the Nile and west part to Congo. Uwinka is the parks’ headquarter and takes a distance of about 219 km and 4 hours drive. The forest has been a big contributor to the Rwanda climatic conditions. Nyungwe forest national park was established as a national park in 2004 and the forest is a home to over 1000 animal, bird and natural species. Nyungwe is an important conservation area in Africa because it harbours quite a number of animals.
Nyungwe National Park is located in the western Great Rift Valley it stretches from Lake Albert to the Lake Tanganyika. The Rift has many mountains and Lakes that flow west into the Congo River system. The Albertine rift besides having an amazing landscape, it is also known for its endemic species of fauna and flora. In Nyungwe Forest there are about 1,068 plant species, among them over 200 species are trees and 248 species of Orchids, and other new species are being found each year. And also about 85 mammal species are found in Nyungwe, including 13 primates’ species. Also, Nyungwe accommodates over 300 bird species & 29 species of them are endemics to the Albertine rift. This makes Nyungwe the best Bird watching site, as many named it birds paradise.
The biodiversity of Nyungwe Forest National Park is even further enriched by other landscapes including swamps, marshes, bamboo thicket, heath, open woodland and many microhabitats. Nyungwe is known to its 13 primate species including the famous chimpanzees. This is the best site for chimpanzee trekking and there is also the largest troop of the black and white Colobus monkey. There are also fragmented forests including, Cyamudongo home of the well-habituated chimpanzees and Gisakura which has other fragmented forests where the second habituated small troop of the Colobus monkeys lives. Nyungwe has over 130 km of constructed trails, which allows all travelers of the different fitness levels to enjoy its beauty, by benefiting fresh air.
Nyungwe offers some unique activities such as canopy walk which can not be found anywhere else in East Africa and it is not even common in whole Africa. The suspended bridge offers best aerial view of the forests’ canopy. Nyungwe Forest National Park has three reception centers; one in Kitabi near the entrance, the second is Uwinka reception center in the middle of the Park and the third one is Gisakura reception center. Nyungwe Forest National Park has some cheap camping services and there is a tented camping ground at Uwinka. Till now there are no hotels infrastructures inside the Park but you can find them around the park.
Nyungwe Forest’s environmental services are playing a big role and the park offers 75% of the country’s water. It has many different rivers on each side of the Park. The rivers that flow towards the west pour into the Congo River and other rivers that flow towards the East pour into Nile River though they first make Akagera river. The furthest source of the Nile is in Nyungwe according to Richard Kandt and other researchers behind him.
For one to able to visit Nyungwe forest, you will have to buy a permit for any activity through the online platform then bring your proof of payment at the park’s reception center. The Park is always open from 7am to 5pm.
Unfortunately, no. We do not recommend you drink tap water during your time in Rwanda. Always ensure you drink bottled water, even when brushing your teeth (this is just a safety precaution). You must also make sure that the ice in your drinks is made from bottled or purified water.
Nyungwe Forest is open for chimpanzee trekking and hiking throughout the year. The wet months, from October to May, are the best time for chimp trekking and forest birding, but general hiking and spotting other primates might be easier in the drier months, from June to September.