Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe National Park is one of Rwanda’s most popular tourist destinations, and it is a must-see for nature lovers. It is well-known for its many primates, particularly chimps. Nyungwe National Park is located in southwest Rwanda along the border with Burundi. A portion of the park is located in Burundi and is known as Kibira National Park. It is also near the southern end of Lake Kivu, so one can explore the park from the lovely lakeside town of Cyangugu. The Nyungwe forest was declared a forest reserve by the German colonial government in 1933. However, between 1960 and 1970, fire outbreaks and human activities such as poaching of animals such as buffaloes, which were originally forest habitats, and deforestation destroyed the forest cover, causing Nyungwe to lose about 15% of her size.

Later, in 2004, Nyungwe Forest was designated as a national park, which is very important to the world conservation society. Nyungwe Forest is now one of East Africa’s Ecotourism destinations, and it is one of the top ten tourist destinations, following Rwanda’s ranking. Nyungwe National Park protects one of the region’s largest and oldest mountain forests, which are said to have existed since the ice age and have protected remarkable biodiversity. It has a diverse ecosystem with habitats ranging from rainforest to bamboo to grasslands, swamps, and bog. And with a diverse ecosystem comes a diverse range of flora and fauna. Nyungwe is located in a mountainous region, with Mount Bigugu reaching an elevation of 2950 meters.

Attractions in Nyungwe National Park

 

 

Wildlife

Nyungwe Forest National Park is well-known for its habituated Chimpanzees. The national park is home to 13 primate species, including up to 400 black and white colobus monkeys, making it one of Africa’s parks with the highest concentration of black and white colobus monkeys.

To name a few, other primates include the L’Hoest monkey, Angola colobus monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Silver monkey, Hamlyn’s monkey, Vervet monkey, Olive Baboon, and Red-tailed monkey. Nyungwe is said to have about 72 animal species, mostly bush animals, such as duikers and golden cats, to name a few.

Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda

 

 

Plant life

Given its long history, the Nyungwe forest contains large trees of various tree species. To name a few, tree species found in Nyungwe include Prinaria exelsium, Cyathea manniana, carapa, newtonia, orchids, mosses, ferns, and podocarpus. This is the best place to go for researchers.

 

 

Waterfalls

Due to the nature of the landscape in the Nyungwe forest, many rivers and springs create waterfalls up to 17 meters high, characterized by overlying cliffs, caves, and the Kamiranzovu Swamp. Tourists can see primates, birds, beautiful wildflowers, and even a couple of reptiles while hiking to these waterfalls.

 

Birds

Nyungwe Forest National Park is estimated to have 300 bird species, 26 of which can only be found in the Albertine Rift, making Nyungwe Forest one of Africa’s best birding destinations. Melaenornis ardesiacus, Regal Sunbird, Ruwenzori Batis, Black and White casqued Hornbill, Batis diops, Crytospiza Jackson bird, and Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher are just a few examples.

Activities done in Nyungwe National Park

Chimpanzee Trekking

Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to approximately 25% of Africa’s primate species, the majority of which are chimps. Chimpanzee trekking is the main attraction of the Nyungwe forest, which has over 500 chimps. Chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest are not habituated like gorillas, so seeing them in specific locations is not guaranteed. However, you will see them more frequently because they are common in the forest. The park rangers know where and how to find the chimps even when they are not habituated, so you can be sure to see them in the Nyungwe forest.

4 Day Uganda wildlife and primate safariChimpanzee trekking takes place every day with an early morning start because the chimps are most visible in the morning hours. Trekking begins as early as 8 a.m. at Uwinka, Kitabi, and Gisakura following a briefing about the primates. Chimpanzee trekking takes between 2 to 5 hours, depending on the location of the chimps. However, in order to trek chimps in the Nyungwe forest, you must first obtain a chimp permit, which must be reserved months in advance. A permit in Nyungwe National Park costs USD 90 per person and is valid for one day only.

Canopy Walk

Nyungwe Forest National Park’s forest canopy walk is unique in Africa. It was introduced as a new tourism product for the park in October 2010. The Canopy walkway spans 160 meters between trees and rises up to 90 feet above the forest floor. The canopy walk through the Nyungwe Forest begins at the Uwinka Visitors Center and is a 2km walk through the untouched natural rainforest below the forest filled with exciting biodiversity and beautiful forest views. A canopy walk costs USD 60 per person.

Community walks and Cultural experiences

Exploring the diverse ecosystem of Nyungwe National Park is wonderful, but to get the full experience, you must also learn about its rich culture. There have been efforts to launch community-based experiences in order to preserve Rwandan culture. Kitabi Cultural Village is one of these projects.

A restaurant, a campsite, and a model of the king’s palace are all part of the cultural village. The Village also offers three different day trips that immerse visitors in traditional Rwandan culture through activities such as a dance ceremony, banana beer production, and bow-and-arrow shooting.

The Banda Village, located in the national park and easily accessible via a downhill hike from the end of the Canopy Walk, is another community-based tourism product. Visitors can learn more about Rwandan culture by participating in community walks where activities such as traditional medicine making and maize grinding are performed and taught.

Hiking and nature walks

With its extensive network of hiking trails, the Nyungwe forest’s steep landscape, epic scenery, and wildlife make it an ideal destination for hikers. The trails wind through a varied landscape and provide the most scenic way to explore the forest. Some hikes lead to reptile and bird areas, while others lead to waterfalls including the Isumo Falls, caves, and swamps like the Karimanzovu. There is also a 200-meter-long and 40-meter-high forest canopy walk. Birders will enjoy the sights at this location.

Birding

The Nyungwe forest is home to over 300 bird species, including 27 Albertine rift valley species. To name a few, there are many interesting and colorful birds to see, including the blue turaco, Ruwenziro Apalis, Archer’s Robin-Chat, the Strange weaver, Stripe-breasted Tit Parus Wind Cryptospiza Jackson, Handsome Francolin Francolinus Nobilis, Chapin’s Flycatcher, and Rockefeller’s sunbird.

Monkey Tracking

Around 400 black and white colobus monkeys live in Nyungwe Forest National Park. The waterfalls trail, which runs from the Gisakura guesthouse to the tea estate, the Bigugu trail, which runs up to the mountain’s highest peak at 2,950m, and the Unwika campsite trails are the best known for colobus monkey trekking. A permit for Colobus monkeys costs USD 60 per person and is booked in the same way as Chimpanzee trekking.

Waterfall Hike

The Kamiranzovu waterfall, which originated in the Kamiranzovu marshlands of Nyungwe forest national park in southwestern Rwanda, has now become a must-see for all visitors to the national park. Though Nyungwe forest national park has been commonly known for the chimpanzee trekking in chamudongo, kamiranzovu waterfall has drawn much courtesy from the current travelers. The waterfall is divided into two sections, the lower on huge rocks and a beautiful spot for photography, and the second in front of the falling water.

Getting to the Kamiranzovu waterfall requires courage, patience, obligation, willpower, and physical fitness. It entails trekking in the compressed tropical rainforest of Nyungwe national park with extreme undergrowth. It is only 10 kilometers from the beginning, but the hilly terrain makes the journey moderately difficult and time-consuming.

Hiking

Nyungwe forest is ideal for hikers due to its steep terrain and extensive network of hiking trails.
The trails differ in length, ease of hiking, and features; therefore, it is recommended that you ask the ranger guides for advice on which trail to take based on the attractions you are looking for.
The trails wind through a varied landscape and provide the most scenic way to explore the forest.
The trails listed below are some of the options for hiking in the forest.

  • The Congo – Nile Divide trail is a 227 km trek for experienced hikers that takes several days to complete.
    However, a one-day hike of a portion of the section is an option.
    The varied landscapes and communities along the route are the main draws of this trail.
    There are campsites where you can stay, but you must bring your own camping equipment.
    There are shops along the trail where you can purchase basic supplies
  • The Igishigishigi trail is 2 kilometers long and offers spectacular views of the Nyungwe forest canopy, beautiful wild flowers, occasional monkeys, and a variety of birds.
    This trail takes between one and two hours to complete, depending on one’s interests.
    All participants must be at least six years old, and children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Karamba trail, located on the former gold mine site, market, and army camp, is a good birding spot in Nyungwe.
  • Umugote trail in Nyungwe forest is ideal for primate viewing and bird watching, with views of ridges, flowers, and butterflies.On a clear day, you can see Kibira National Park in Burundi.
  • Umoyove trail

also known as Mahogany trail, leads you to the waterfall for a relaxing stroll among the park’s tallest trees.

  • The Uwinka trail is a difficult hike but a beautiful spot for bird watching.
  • Irebero trail, This trail offers views of Lake Kivu as well as two of the highest peaks in Nyungwe National Park.
  • The Imbaraga trail is 10 kilometers long and designed for experienced hikers.
    Hikers will be able to see waterfalls, which will be a welcome sight after a long hike.
  • The Bigugu Trail offers views of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lake Kivu, and the Islands.
    It takes you to the highest point in Nyungwe Forest Park.
  • The Isumo Trail will take you through the beautiful tea fields; you can even get involved in picking tea and follow the process until it reaches your cup.
    You will also be able to see the largest waterfall in Nyungwe National Park.
  • The Kamiranzovu Trail brings you close to the majority of the waterfalls, wetlands, and swamps.

How to get to the Nyungwe Forest National Park

From Kigali via muhanga-Huye Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in the south of the country, approximately 200 kilometers/124 miles from Rwanda’s capital Kigali via muhanga and the King’s Palace in Nyanza, then proceeding to Butare. From Butale, continue and finally connect through the park before arriving at the park headquarters in Gisekura. The Nyungwe Forest National Park is located 87 kilometers/54 miles from Huye (Butare), and many tourists stay overnight in Huye to do activities on the way to the forest. This is recommended because the direct trip can be stressful. Nyungwe forest is 55 kilometers/34 miles from Rusizi/Kamembe airport. For clients flying into the park, the drive takes about an hour.

Accommodation in Nyungwe National Park

Accommodations near Nyungwe National Park are simply lodges and hotels located outside of the park’s boundaries that can accommodate guests who have visited Nyungwe National Park. The park is surrounded by five districts: Nyaruguru in the southeast, Nyamagabe in the northeast, Karongi in the north, Nyamasheke in the North West, and Rusizi in the southwest. All of these districts surround Nyungwe National Park, making it easy to spend the night at the accommodations in these districts, which range from budget to mid-range to luxury accommodation facilities.

 

One & Only Nyungwe House

Nyungwe House is a One & Only partner hotel, which has a portfolio of exquisite properties in some of the world’s most exotic locations. The property is located west of Nyungwe Forest National Park, within a tea plantation. Nyungwe House encompasses 22 rooms and suites spread across six wooden villas, all of which are tastefully decorated with traditional Rwandan art.

African Safari

 

Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel

The hotel is located on a small plateau with some of the most spectacular views in the Nyungwe Forest area – the largest single forest block in East Africa and Rwanda’s largest water reservoir. The hotel is accessible from the main road from Kigali through a steep and mercifully short dirt track.

Kitabi Eco-Center:

This is one of the closest accommodations near Nyungwe National Park’s edge, located only 33 kilometers and 41 minutes drive from Nyungwe’s Uwinka reception center. This eco-center is built in traditional Rwandan style on a mountain peak. This is the most recommended accommodation around Nyungwe National Park for backpackers and budget travelers, with views of tea plantations and mountains on all sides.

 

 

Regina Pacis Kibeho hotel:

It is a modern constructed hotel with 40 rooms, and they offer dormitories if you guys want to stay as a group. So if you have planned to visit Nyungwe National Park and you are visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho, you may stay here and have your visit on any day to Nyungwe.

 

 

Norte Dame Kibeho Resthouse:

This is a nice guest house set in the mountains and has a warm welcome. You can stay here after visiting the holy land and then go on an activity in Nyungwe National Park the next day.

 

 

Delta resort hotel:

The hotel is unusual but beautiful due to its mix of traditional and modern styles. This is the place to be if you are traveling for business or pleasure. It is set on the shore of Lake Kivu and also the services offered here are a mix of the modern world and Rwandan culture.

 

 

Mariah Hill Resort:

This is one of the best resorts in the Karongi district. It is located on the shores of Lake Kivu and is only 1km from Karongi town. It is a midrange accommodation that caters to people of all income levels. If you feel like you want really to relax, this is your place & for the honeymooners.

 

 

Rwiza village:

This is one of the accommodations located on Green Mountain, with a beautiful view of Lake Kivu and the surrounding islands. The lodging is designed in the Rwandan sub-traditional style. There is no better place to unwind than here, and the hotel is a three-star establishment. So it’s a midrange hotel with perfect rooms, food, and services.