Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda
Nyungwe Forest is a high-altitude, mountainous rain forest in southern Rwanda conserved in 2005, the Government of Rwanda declared Nyungwe a national park, according it the highest level of protection in Rwanda. This forest, the largest mountain rainforest in all of Africa, hosts 13 species of primates including the Angola colobus found in groups of 300-400 animals that is an attribute unique to Nyungwe. It also hosts a large population of chimpanzees and two other threatened species of monkeys; the owl faced monkey and reported but unverified sightings of the golden monkey.
A visit to Nyungwe takes you through the great natural forest, comprised of ancient trees, swamps, blogs and grasslands, which have all favored the in-habitation of various wild and birdlife. Nyungwe Forest is home to myriad orchids, butterflies, moths and other fascinating insects – all of which constitute the potential for a major, low volume, tourist destination in the making. Nyungwe Forest is popular because of the canopy walkways in the forest and the green scenic nature if this biodiversity forest.
Top Things to do and see in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest Chimpanzee Trekking
Chimpanzee trekking is a major activity done in Nyungwe forest national park. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest starts off from three reception centers, that’s Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakura where the tourists meet the park rangers and the tourists are also expected to be at the reception as early as 4: 30am and by 5 am, you drive to the starting point of the trek into the forest. Since the chimps nest each and every night, there are the trackers who go ahead of the trekking group of finding them and communicate with the ranger guides. The tourists spend only 1 hour with the chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest National park, and get to observe them so closely going about their own lives and see the human like features and behavior that makes them our closest relatives with 98.7 % DNA.
Chimpanzee trekking experience is so different from that of gorilla trekking as the chimps are running around in the tree canopies and there may be running after to catch up and the sightings are more rushed and sporadic. Book a 7 Days Wildlife Safari, that will take you to the Nyungwe Forest for the chimpanzee trekking activity.
Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk ways
In addition to the beautiful scenery large, centuries old trees and the added thick forest of Nyungwe Forest National Park, The park boasts of a 200m canopy walk way that gives visitors and tourists an excitement that can hardly be compared by anything else.
Getting to the canopy is also about 2 hours from the starting point at Uwinka visitor Centre. The forest is on a mountain and the hike is also slippery due to the mere fact that the ground on which the guests trek is wet and so moist. Viewing the canopy on arrival, most especially for those that are fear heights, this could also be described as the endless walk to hell. The prominent sightings here include; the monkeys, including the blue monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, black and white colobus, the red tailed monkeys and the birds. The minimum age for this walk is 6 years and the kids must be escorted by the adults.
What you should carry for the canopy walk: 1 liter of drinking water, The hiking boots, The rain Jacket, Cameras, Small back pack bag, The walking stick, Camera batteries
Bird Watching Experience in Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe forest is one of the most important forests for conservation of montane forest bird species, a complete birders paradise. Nyungwe forest is home to 278 species of birds. All year round birding activity is carried out in the park’s most hot spots of Albertine rift endemics species. Of these 26 are only found in the Albertine rift region including Grauer’s Rush warbler that thrives in an inaccessible swamps, Rwenzori Turaco identified by their loud repetitive calls in the forest, rare sun birds such as blue headed sun bird, purple breasted sun bird, Rwenzori night jars, Archers Robin chat and Handsome Francolin. The bird songs and calls will mesmerize you to get pleasure from your trek.
You can also expect to have high quality time as you will not only see the birds but also many other wildlife, tree species and many other attractions which makes the trip worthwhile.
Colubus Monkey Tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Although chimpanzees are the main tourist attractions, Nyungwe forest is a home to stronghold troops of 400 Colobus monkeys often times called Rwenzori Colobus. Rwandan development board has habituated some of the troops for tourists to track and see which consist of over 200 individuals thus nowhere else to encounter such troops of monkeys except in Rwanda.
Trekking to see Colobus monkeys costs $70 per person without park entrance fees. Visitors can only track these monkeys for one hour but also possible to visit them as many times as you want in a day. The other types of monkeys found in the ark also include; Silver monkeys, L’Hoest Monkey, Owl faced monkeys, golden monkeys, the red tailed monkey, among the many.
Forest Nature Walks and Hiking Trails in Nyungwe Forest
A forest walk /hiking trail is the best way to explore in full the beauty of Nyungwe forest. The national park has over 13 hiking trails, which are approximately 130 kilometers, which lead travelers into the interior of the forest. Each trail lead to a different point such as waterfalls caves and swamps and each trail offer unique features. The hiking trails include Igishigishigi trail, Bigugu trail, Ngabwe trail, Isumo waterfall trail, Kamiranzovu marsh trail, Karamba birding trail, Source of the Nile trail, Irebero trail, Muzimu trail, Imbaraga trail, Congo Nile trail, Umoyove trail, and Rukuzi trail among others.
Hiking through the forest help travelers to enjoy a peaceful calm environment, while listening to the sweet sounds of birds singing up in the trees which melodies keep running in the minds of travelers.
Lodges & Hotels for Accommodation in Nyungwe Forest National Park
The Top Lodging Choices – Nyungwe Forest National Park make a stay near the Park more convenient and gives visitors a choice between a mid-range Lodge and a luxury one.
Nyungwe Forest lodge
Nyungwe Forest Lodge is a fabulous up-market luxury lodge overlooking the Forest. Each room has a fireplace and splendid views of the forest and of the surrounding tea plantation. Nyungwe Forest Lodge is simply a splendid place to stay while visiting the ancient rainforest – world-class rooms, world -class food to go along with the lodge.
Nyungwe forest lodge has luxury facilities such as a gym and a swimming pool, and over looks the forest canopy so you are guaranteed some good views of the scenery in the area. It has comfortable luxury rooms, one of them even has a jacuzzi. Board basis is full board and it includes meals.
Nyungwe Top View Hotel
The Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel is a more budget accommodation option compared to the up-market luxurious Nyungwe Forest Lodge. This hotel is only a five minutes drive Nyungwe forest national park and a 4-5 hour drive from Kigali and has some very amazing views of Nyungwe forest. The view from here also splendid as is the view from the Nyungwe Forest Lodge but at a lower price.
Nyungwe top view hotel offers activities mainly centered around the park. So look forward to tracking chimpanzees, seeing he Ruwenzori Colobus monkey, birdwatching, forest walk, and going on the Nyungwe canopy walk. The hotel provides a driver to take you around the park and the various places you might want to visit.
Gisakura Guest House
Gisakura is comfortable accommodation for people working within smaller budgets. This guest house is found about 2 km from the park. It is located close to the scenic Gisakura tea estate along the road to Rusizi.
Gisakura offers opportunities to visit chimpanzees, the canopy walkway, bird watching, and hikes along different trails. For meals the guest house offers breakfast, lunch dinner, and carry away snacks can be arranged if you are planning to spend the day out in the national park. Food and drinks are included in Full board. The guest house is secure and there is very minimal risk of encounters with wild animals.