Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest National Park Overview

Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, to the south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and it’s probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of the Nile sources. Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 970 km2 of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. The nearest town is Cyangugu, 54 km to the west. Mount Bigugu is located within the park borders.Extending for 1,000 square kilometers across the majestic hills of southeast Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is the largest block of mountain forest in East or Central Africa, and one of the most ancient, dating back to before the last Ice Age.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

More about Nyungwe Forest National Park

The common chimpanzee in Nyungwe are the robust chimpanzee closely related bonobo, formerly called the pygmy chimpanzee. Evidence from fossils and DNA sequencing shows both species of chimpanzees are the sister group to the modern human lineage. They are covered in coarse black hair, but has a bare face, fingers, toes, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. It is considered more robust than the bonobo, weighing between 40 and 65 kg and measuring about 63 to 94 cm. Its gestation period is eight months, reaching puberty at the age of eight to 10 years, and its lifespan in captivity is about 50 years.

The common chimpanzee lives in groups of between 15 to 150 members, although individuals travel and forage in much smaller groups during the day. Nearly all chimpanzee populations have been recorded using tools, modifying sticks, rocks, grass, and leaves and using them for acquiring honey, termites, ants, nuts, and water.

Activities in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe forest is home to two wild chimp communities that are habituated for chimpanzee tourism. One of the groups is in Cyamudongo section of Nyungwe forest and the other around the Uwinka area of the forest. The forest is home to about 400 chimpanzees. While viewing chimpanzees is not guaranteed, you will enjoy learning about these creatures and their natural habitats from your guides. You are expected to be at the briefing area as early as 5.00 am in the morning. This is because chimps are mostly likely to be seen early in the morning and they tend to move about which requires one to be active as you follow after them. However whether you view the chimps or not, the experience in the forest is rich as you watch other primates, butterflies, several trees and above all the freshness of the air.

Primate safaris in Nyungwe Forest

Nyungwe is an ideal destination for lovers of primates, with 13 different species living here, and most visitors will go for at least one tracking experience, the most popular of which is chimpanzee trekking. Starting very early in the morning, chimps are tracked in groups of eight and as with the mountain gorillas, you will have just one hour in their company once they’ve been located. Sightings aren’t as reliable or as clear as gorillas however, since they often remain in dense forest, but their engaging playfulness and human-like characteristics make the long day worthwhile.

Trekking in search of grey-cheeked mangabey and Rwenzori colobus monkeys is also on offer in Nyungwe Forest, the latter of which can be found here in troops of several hundred. And there’s no need to trek far to see l’Hoest’s monkeys – you will often see them ambling along the roadside as you drive past.

Birdwatching in Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe forest national park is a high altitude mountain forest ranging between 1600 – 2950 meters. The birds in Nyungwe forest are mostly found in the trees, shrubs or the ground at the edges of the forest next to the tea plantations. Some birds are shy and therefore more easily heard than seen like many forest birds. Among the frequently sighted species are the Rwenzori Nightjar, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Kivu Ground Thrush, the Handsome Francolin, Dwarf Honeyguide, Greatblue and Rwenzori Turaco, montane Double Collared Sun and the Red- Throated Alethe. There are well maintained trails which you will take while birding as well as trained bird guides that are based at the nyungwe forest.

bird-watching in Nyugwe

Nyungwe Canopy Walk

The Nyungwe canopy walkway is one of the greatest places you can take a nature walk from Rwanda, the walkway commands spectacular views of the untouched natural forest and the striking lake Kivu.

The Nyungwe canopy walk has got various trails like igishigishi trail, Mbaraga trail and Mbuyove trail. The naming if this trails was according to the tree species found on a specific trail. The igishigishi trail refers to the many tree ferns found along this trail, the Umuvoye trails stands for the Mahogany tree species along this trail. Children taking nature guided walks at Nyungwe canopy walk must be of at least 6 years and above and must be escorted by adults.

Monkey trekking

Nyungwe forest national park is a home of over 300 monkey species which makes monkey trekking the best attraction in the park after chimpanzee trekking.

There are also unconfirmed sightings of the golden monkeys that have also been reported. Apart from chimpanzee trekking, you can also trek the grey cheeked Mangabeys and Ruwenzori colobus Monkeys in Nyungwe Forest. These monkeys can also be seen in large groups of up to 300 colobus monkeys.

Also as you treck any of the primate group, you will likely see some other monkeys along the trek. These might include; L’ Hoest’s monkey, the Owl faced monkeys, Mona monkey and the blue monkeys. The forest is also a primate country and you can also trek the chimps, the gray cheeked and the Colobus monkeys in the ancient forest.

Monkey trekking in Nyungwe