Situated in southwestern Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most spectacular protected areas that you should consider a must to include in your bucket list. The park lies at the border area of Burundi in the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the west.
Its dense forest features among the oldest African forests that are known to have thrived the last ice age. It is undeniably one of the biggest montane forests in East Africa and it is sighted as the best-preserved forest in the whole highlands of Central Africa.
This forest is situated close to the Congo Nile divide which marks the point of separation between the catchment areas of River Congo which flows to the west emptying in the Atlantic Ocean and River Nile which flows to the north emptying in the Mediterranean Sea.
Nyungwe forest itself refuges one of the remotest sources of the Nile River one of the most popular River in the world. Nyungwe Forest National Park was designated as a national park in 2004 and covers an area of about 970 square kilometres.
The park features the vast montane rain forest, bogs, bamboo, and grassland. Nyungwe Forest National Park is closely located to Cyangugu town about 54 kilometers off from the park and the resort town on Rwanda’s largest Lake Kivu. This spectacular protected area features diverse attractions most of which include the 13 primate species, over 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 310 avian species, 38 reptiles, 32 amphibian species, and many more.
The park is credited for its canopy that ranks the 3rd best in Africa. This protected area boasts of over 200 tree species together with 140 orchids 8 of which are endemic. It also has a variety of vegetation cover and at altitude 2950 meters; there is sub-alpine vegetation that features mainly the bamboo and shrubs like Podocarpus, bamboo, Erica johnstonii and Phillipia.
At altitude 2500 meters Podocarpus, hagenia Syzygium, Macaranga, and Balthacaria. At 2250 meters above sea level, their area tall tree species that thrive together with fern species such as Newtonia, Polyscias, Symphonia, Entandrophragma, and Cyathea manniana. At 1900 meters you will explore most of the taller trees especially the Carapa, Newtonia Entandrophragma, Prinaria exelsium and Cyathea manniana.
Things to do in Nyungwe Forest National Park
- Chimpanzee tracking
About 13 primate species thrive within the park and it features as the only area in Rwanda where chimpanzees can be tracked. The chimpanzees in this park are habituated, meaning, they are used to human presence. Chimpanzee trekking adventure starts at 8:00 am and usually takes about 2 to 6 hours with an hour of face to face encounter with these magnificent primates while in their natural habitat. You will have a chance to explore them as they socialize, copulate, and make pant hooting calls. Permits for this lifetime experience in Rwanda cost about $90 per visitor.
- Black and White Colobus monkey tracking
Nyungwe Forest National Park offers refuge to one of the biggest troops of colobus monkeys in the entire African continent counting about 400 individuals. The trek starts in the morning at the park headquarters and usually takes visitors about 2 to 5 hours including the one hour of face to face encounter with these remarkable primates. The permits for this adventure costs $70. The notable primates for you to sight include the silver monkeys, Angola colobus, red-tailed monkeys, vervets, grey-cheeked mangabeys, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, L’Hoests, and others.
- Birding safaris
Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the best Important Bird Areas and ranked by the Birdlife International in recognition of the bird count. The park refuges about 310 avian species, 27 of which are limited to Albertine rift. While on bird watching adventure in Nyungwe Forest National Park, you will have a chance to spot out bird species such as the purple breasted, Rwenzori Turacos, Grauer’s rush warbler, red-throated alethe, Kungwe apalis, black and white casqued hornbill, Rwenzori apalis, stripe breasted tit parus fasciiventure, Shelley’s crimson wing, handsome francolin, red collared babbler, yellow eyed black flycatcher, Neumann’s warbler, Cryptospiza and many more.
Other activities for you to engage in include canopy walk, hiking adventures, and the notable trails for you to hike through include the Congo Nile Divide trail, Igishigishigi trail, Umugote trail, Irebero trail, Imbaraga trail, Bigugu trail, Umuyove trail, Uwinka trail, Karamba trail, Isumo trail, Ngabwe trail, Kamiranzovu trail, and others.
Where to stay in Nyungwe Forest National Park
The leading accommodation facilities for you to spend a night while in Nyungwe Forest National Park include the One and Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel, Gisakura guesthouse, and the other option is camping.
In conclusion, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a remarkable primate paradise that you should consider visiting while on a gorilla safari in Rwanda and East Africa at large. For more information, visit www.visitrwanda.com and book a memorable safari through credible tour operators.