Mount Bigugu Trail in Nyungwe Forest

The Mount Bigugu route in Nyungwe Forest also provides visitors with a fascinating trek through the forest’s vegetation. . In the dry season, you may be rewarded with three flame flowers to light your path to the top: enormous, conical orange owers of the orchid, Disa Robusta, Red-orange owers of Red-hot Poker, and scarlet owers of the rare Nyungwe jewelweed. 

Mount Bigugu Trail in Nyungwe Forest is one of the most fascinating nature trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park and it marks the highest point in the national park. Hikers that enjoy taking on the most difficult or tallest summits would prioritize this mountain. Birdwatchers travel to the park in search of bird species such as the Red-collared Mountain-babbler, among other species. While the Bigugu Trail is deemed challenging, the return hike from Mount Bigugu is easy.

The Mount Bigugu route in Nyungwe Forest also provides visitors with a fascinating trek through the forest’s vegetation. In the dry season, you may be rewarded with three flame flowers to light your path to the top: enormous, conical orange owers of the orchid, Disa Robusta, Red-orange owers of Red-hot Poker, and scarlet owers of the rare Nyungwe jewelweed. The latter two may appear familiar since they have made their way into gardens throughout Europe and North America. The beautiful little Lobelia petiolate, which only grows between elevations of 2,400 and 3,000 meters, is also unique to the Bigugu Mountain Area.

Mount Bigugu Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park is a must-see hiking trail for everyone visiting the park. The 7-kilometer walk goes through the forests, through crystal-clear streams, and roaring waterfalls. You could even witness chimps swinging through the trees if you’re lucky! The trip to the park will take you via winding mountain roads and past terraced tea farms, which is half the enjoyment. It’s a simple trek; the trail is well-kept, and there are lots of rest stops along the way. Finally, it’s a terrific chance to see the park from a fresh angle – the views from above the ground are magnificent!

Brief Background on Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe is the biggest intact tract of montane rainforest in eastern Africa, stretching 1,015 km2 over Rwanda’s hilly southwest, creating a continuous forest block with Burundi’s 400 square kilometer Kibira National Park. The park is Rwanda’s most important catchment area, supplying water to 70% of the country, and its central ridge separates Africa’s two largest drainage systems, the Nile and the Congo – in fact, a spring on the slopes of the 2,950m Mount Bigugu is now considered the most remote source of the world’s longest river.

Nyungwe, like other forests along the Albertine Rift (the section of the Rift Valley that runs the Congolese border with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and northwest Tanzania), is a notably rich biodiversity hotspot. More than 1,050 plant species, including 200 orchids and 250 Albertine Rift Endemics (AREs), as well as at least 120 butterfly species, have been identified. The vertebrate fauna contains 85 mammals, 322 bird, 32 amphibians, and 38 reptile species.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is simply a magnificent place to visit during your Rwanda Safari. Even before you enter the forest, it exudes a liberatingly primal presence. The road winds through a typical rural Rwandan landscape of rolling tea plantations and artificially terraced hills one moment, then a dense tangle of trees rises imperiously from the fringing cultivation the next. The route clings to high forested slopes for a whole 50 kilometers, providing spectacular vistas over heavily covered hills that fall like enormous green waves toward the far Burundi border. The rainforest is typically thought of as an intimate and restricting environment, and Nyungwe’s damp interior definitely fits that description. But, from the main road, Nyungwe is a magnificently vast sight.

The biggest draw for most tourists is the primates. All 13-primate species are represented, including a chimp population estimated at roughly 500, which can typically be followed quickly, but numerous other monkeys, notably the acrobatic Ruwenzori colobus and the isolated L’Hoest’s monkey, are easily spotted. Nyungwe is also appealing to birders, botanists, and avid walkers, with its 130km network of walking trails and the region’s only suspended canopy walk.

Guided Hike along Mount Bigugu Trail in Nyungwe Forest

The Bulera Swamp, which is home to a variety of species, is the trail’s first stop. Keep an eye out for hippos in the mud and water lilies on the lake! There are picnic tables nearby where you can stretch your legs and eat a bite or two. Continue on to Lake Burera, another stunning location in the park. The clear waters mirror the surrounding trees, and wildlife abounds on the banks. There are also picnic tables here, so bring a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon lounging on the lake’s edge. The trail follows the water until it reaches Lake Rwanyakoma, the largest and most beautiful of the three lakes.

The route follows the water until it reaches Lake Rwanyakoma, the largest and most beautiful of the three lakes. As you continue on the route you will pass tea and coffee estates, where you can watch the farmers at work tending the plants. You reach the bottom of the falls after roughly 3 hours of trekking. Before continuing your journey, you can take a short detour and visit the waterfall’s base. Soak in the surroundings as you weave your way up the slope, pausing to observe the stunning landscape along the route. Finally, you will reach the top of the falls where you may take your time enjoying this serene region. The Nyarusiza Cave is only a short distance away.

Hiking tours to the peak of Mount Bigugu in Nyungwe forest rewards visitors with the most spectacular panoramic views in the whole Nyungwe Forest national park. On a clear day, you can see Lake Kivu shimmering in the distance, the highlands and islands of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the expansion of Nyungwe’s forest in Burundi’s Kabira National Park. You may even be able to glimpse the towering summits of Volcanoes National Park from a distance if you are lucky.

How Long Does it take to hike along Mount Bigugu Trail in Nyungwe Forest?

A guided hike along the Mount Bigugu trail in Nyungwe Forest takes roughly 6 hours and covers a total distance of approximately 6.6 kilometers. Hiking expeditions to along the trail start at 9 am daily.

How much does it cost to hike along Mount Bigugu Trail in Nyungwe Forest?

A guided hike along Mount Bigugu Trail in Nyungwe forest national park costs 15 USD per person and includes a park guide but excludes park entry fees of 100 USD per person per day.

Other Trails to hike in Nyungwe Forest

Rukuzi Trail

This 9.1-kilometer Rukuzi hiking path takes around 5 hours to complete and begins every morning at 9 a.m. at the Uwinka welcome facility. This hiking track is such a beautiful experience since it allows hikers to engage with chimps on a chimpanzee trekking safari to Nyungwe forest national park, which is the park's primary feature, as well as a lovely leaf cover that draws the hiker's eye.

Kamiranzovu Swamp Trail

The Kamiranzovu Swamp trail in Nyungwe Forest includes the park's largest swamp, Kamiranzovu Swamp. Beautiful waterfalls may be seen along the route for hikers on this walk. It is around 5.9 kilometers long and takes about 3.5 hours to trek. Every day at 9 a.m., hiking tours along this path begin. The trail is named after the last forest elephant who died in the Kamiranzovu marsh.

Isumo Trail

At Nyungwe Forest national park, the Isumo trail is a popular hiking track. The 10.6-kilometer round takes about 4 hours to complete. Hiking trips on this path begin at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, and depart from the Gisakura visitor center. This hike takes you to the famed Isumo waterfalls past extensive tea plantations and Nyungwe forest. Visitors traversing this trail on a nice day may view a variety of monkey and bird species.

Igishigishigi Trail

The Igishigishigi trail in Nyungwe Forest is the best and most recommended hiking trail in the park for first-time hikers and beginners. This 2.1-kilometer-long hiking track offers the best views of Nyungwe Forest National Park's Canopy Walkway. Visitors may climb this trail in about 2 hours and begin at the Uwinka Visitor Centre. The Igishigishigi route may be combined with longer walks like the Imbaraga and Umuyove trails.

Umuyove Trail

The 5.6-kilometer Umuyove trail in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest takes about 4 hours to complete. The 'Mahogany' hiking trail is called for the mahogany trees that line it and give a good view of the waterfalls. Some hikers choose the Umuyove path since it is relatively short and delivers a fantastic sensation of refreshing breath from the waterfall, as well as exceptionally beautiful flowers seen along the way and surrounding the falls, and a diversity of bird species, including water birds. This short trip from the Uwinka receiving center to Buhoro takes about 312 hours, with treks beginning at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. every day.

Imbaraga Trail

The Imbaraga trail in Nyungwe forest national park is a 9.8-kilometer trek that takes around 6 hours to complete and begins at the Uwinka welcome facility. It is a difficult hiking trail that demands hikers to be in top physical condition while still providing some of the greatest vistas in the park. It is best suited for experienced hikers, and there are four waterfalls to witness. Every morning at 9 a.m., hiking trips on this trails begin.

Karamba Trail

Visitors may also trek the Karamba hiking and nature route in Nyungwe Forest National Park, which is a very simple trail. It is built on the foundations of a former gold mine, market, and army barracks. This trekking trail, which is densely forested, is recognized as one of the best places in Nyungwe forest national park for birding safaris. The journey to and from the tail is around 2 kilometers round trip and takes approximately 3 hours. Visitors trekking this path should begin at the Gisakura tourist center. Hikes on this path begin at 8 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. every day.

Ngabwe Trail

The Ngabwe trail in Nyungwe forest is ideal for those looking to do camping. This hiking trail also includes great picnic sites with beautiful views of the forest canopy. This hike is about 4.6 kilometers long and takes about 4 hours to complete. This trail is great for birdwatching, and visitors start their hike from the Kitabi reception area at 9 a.m. every morning.

Ndambarare Trail

The Ndambarare trail in Nyungwe forest national park will lead you to the spectacular Ndambarare waterfalls. This is a moderately simple hiking trail that covers a 9.6-kilometer distance and takes roughly 3½ hours to accomplish a round trip. Hiking trips on this path start from the Gisakura reception at exactly 9 am every morning and 1 pm in the afternoon. Visitors hiking the Ndambarare trail in Nyungwe forest get to have panoramic viewpoints of the Gisakura tea estate and processing plant.

Other notable trails in the Nyungwe forest that visitors can explore include; Umugote, Congo Nile Divide, Uwinka, Irebero, Congo Nile, and Muzimu trails to mention but a few. Visitors traveling to Nyungwe forest national park are always welcome to explore any of the nature trails in the park.

When is the Best Time to visit Nyungwe Forest?

Nyungwe forest can be visited throughout the year; however, the best time to visit would be during the long dry season which is from June to September or perhaps during the short dry season which lasts from mid-December to mid-February. During this time, the trails in Nyungwe forest are easy to hike and allow visitors to have the best hiking experience while at the park.

It is important for visitors to also note that it can rain at any given time while in Nyungwe forest so you are advised to always carry a light raincoat or jacket with you and wear a good pair of hiking boots to easily hike through the mud.

Getting to Nyungwe Forest from Kigali.

Getting from Kigali city, Rwanda’s capital to Nyungwe Forest National Park takes approximately 6 hours of driving with a stopover for a cultural tour to the King’s palace in Nyanza and the national museum in Butare. The most famous and easiest route from Kigali city via Huye town through the Nyamagabe district, using this route you will be able to pass by many historical and cultural sites.

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