Rukuzi Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park

This is one of the top paths in Nyungwe forest since it takes visitors to the most exciting trekking experience in the forest, which is chimpanzees, who are commonly spotted along the Rukuzi trail, as well as other primates such as colobus monkeys.

Rukuzi trail in Nyungwe forest is located in Nyungwe forest national park in Rwanda. It is 9.1 kilometers long. A full circle takes around 5 hours to complete. Rukuzi route is one of the longest hiking trails in Nyungwe forest, yet it is such a wonderful experience, allowing travelers to see gorgeous foliage as well as some of the forest’s permanent occupants, such as chimps, colobus monkeys, a variety of bird species, and butterflies.

This is one of the top paths in Nyungwe forest since it takes visitors to the most exciting trekking experience in the forest, which is chimpanzees, who are commonly spotted along the Rukuzi trail, as well as other primates such as colobus monkeys. Apart from primates, this walk passes through some breathtaking scenery that catches the trekker’s sight.

A Brief History of Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in the western province of Rwanda in Rusizi district and is one of the most magnificent and pristine rainforests on the planet. It is dominated by a chain of mountains that runs south from the northern parts of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, via the Rwenzori highlands, western Rwanda, and Burundi, to the shore of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.

On a clear day, Nyungwe Forest National Park provides spectacular views of Lake Kivu and, in certain cases, the Virunga hills. The forest includes a large network of well-kept walking and hiking paths that lead to numerous waterfalls and viewing sites. Chimpanzee trekking, bird viewing, colobus monkey trekking, and the canopy walk are the most popular activities in the Nyungwe forest.

It was established as a national park in 2004 and spans over an area of approximately 1,019 square kilometers. Nyungwe Forest national park is currently managed by Rwanda Development Board and African Parks, a non-government organization that is currently managing Akagera National Park as well as several other wildlife parks and conservancies in Africa. Nyungwe forest national park in Rwanda is home to a wide variety of wildlife species including 13 primate species, 1068 plant species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species, 85 mammal species, and over 322 species of birds.

When is the best time to hike the Rukuzi Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park?

Hiking the Rukuzi trail in Nyungwe forest national park during the wet season is challenging owing to the steep hills, but it is well worth it. This season begins in March, April, May, October, and November, when most portions of the Nyungwe and Cyamudongo forests in Nyungwe forest national park get more than 100mm of rain, making the path muddy and treacherous, although hikers who trek this trail during the rainy season have a better chance of spotting chimpanzees than during the dry season. While it is difficult in the wet season.

Why hike the Rukuzi trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park?

The Rukuzi trail in Nyungwe forest national park is also an excellent choice for birdwatchers, as it allows you to see numerous resident birds, as well as a huge number of Palearctic migrants and other species when they are at their most colorful and visible. The Rukuzi trail is especially well-known for its animal species in the Nyungwe forest. Trekking the Rukuzi trail in Nyungwe forest national park provides an opportunity to see chimpanzees, enjoy a wonderful view of Lake Kivu, and explore the canopy walk experience and tea plantations.

Besides hiking the Rukuzi trial in Nyungwe Forest, other nature and hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park include Irebero, Ngabwe, Bigugu, Congo Nile Divide Trails, Umuyove, Muzimu, and Karamba. All of these trails have distinct tourist attractions and provide great experiences that are not available anyplace else.

Bigugu Trail

The Mount Bigugu trail in Nyungwe Forest also provides visitors with an interesting hike through the forest’s greenery. It is a 6 hours hike, covering a distance of 6.6 kilometers to the summit of Mount Bigugu. During the dry season, you can be rewarded with three flame flowers to light your way up: gigantic, conical orange owers of the orchid, Disa Robusta, red-orange owers of Red-hot Poker, and scarlet owers of the uncommon Nyungwe jewelweed bird. The starting point for hikes on this trail is at Nyabishwati.

Rukuzi Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Umuyove trail in Nyungwe Forest

Ngabwe Trail

For those interested in camping amidst nature, the Ngabwe route in the Nyungwe forest is suitable. This hiking trail also has wonderful picnic areas with views of the forest canopy. This trek is around 4.6 kilometers long and takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete. This track is ideal for birding, and guests begin their journey from the Kitabi reception area every morning at 9 a.m.

Kamiranzovu Swamp Trail

The Kamiranzovu Swamp trail in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest features Kamiranzovu Swamp, the park’s biggest swamp. Hikers on this path may view beautiful waterfalls along the way. It is approximately 5.9 kilometers long and takes approximately 312 hours to travel. Hiking trips along this trail begin every day at 9 a.m. The route is named after the Kamiranzovu wetland, where the last woodland elephant perished.

Rukuzi Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Rukuzi Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Congo Nile Trail

Alongside Lake Kivu, the Congo- Nile Hiking Trail is popular with both cyclists and hikers, traversing rain forests, bracken fields, and bamboo forests.

The hiking trail takes 10 days to complete on foot combined with some short boat rides. It is possible to hike in single sections. The trail following mainly the footpaths of the local people is a wonderful way to soak up daily life in traditional villages, very close to nature, and experience Rwanda up-close.

With interesting community-based tourism activities, coffee-washing stations, tea plantations, big towns, dozens of villages, and innumerable beaches, coves, waterfalls, valleys, and vistas, the wincing path of the Congo-Nile hiking trail offers some of the finest hiking to be had anywhere in east and central Africa.

Winding its way along the fringes of the lake via the peaks of Rwanda’s green hills, this hikers’ dream is as challenging as it is rewarding. With a peak elevation of 2,630m, it’s a serious workout to boot. There are campsites along the route or guesthouses in the towns for those after a bit more comfort. Refreshments are available along the route supplied by small shops. Active tourists can discover the coastal waters on kayaking tours and boat rides and visit the many islands of Lake Kivu. The trail can be walked from both directions, north and south. Hikers are always advised to book accommodation in advance.

Isumo Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Umuyove Trail

On this trail, also known as the Mahogany Trail, visitors may rest by a waterfall, wander beneath some of the park’s largest trees, and savor the perfume of fragrant leaves. The Umuyove Trail, which is 5.5 kilometers long, allows access to various side paths utilized for chimpanzee viewing. A hiking tour on this trail takes approximately 3½ hours to complete.

Uwinka Trail

Although considered a difficult hike, this 17.8-kilometer Uwinka trail in Nyungwe forest takes hikers through rather lovely ravines and is the perfect place to listen to early morning bird calls. Hiking tours on this trail take approximately 8 hours and begin from Uwinka Visitors Center.

Irebero Trail

The Irebero trail in Nyungwe forest national park is a 3.4 kilometers loop around two of the highest peaks in the park and provides views of Lake Kivu in Rwanda. Hiking expeditions on this trail take approximately 3 hours to complete.

Isumo Trail

The Isumo Trail in Nyungwe forest is a 10.6-kilometer trail and it takes hikers through verdant tea fields, steep rainforest ravines and to top it off, the biggest waterfall, in the Nyungwe Forest National Park. A complete hike along this trail will take 4 hours, with the starting point at the Gisakura office.

Muzimu Trail

Hiking tours along the Muzimu Trail in Nyungwe Forest are relatively easy hikes in the remote northeastern part of Rwanda and take hikers through pine and eucalyptus forests on a distance of 5.2 kilometers. On this trail, you will encounter many bird species and also get perfect views of the Lake Kivu and Virunga Volcanoes on a clear day. Starting point for this tour is at the Gisovu Ranger post and hikes take 3½ hours to complete.

What to pack for a guided hike along the Rukuzi Trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park?

A raincoat or jacket is required for a guided trip along the Kamiranzovu route in the Nyungwe forest, as it may rain at any time. You should also bring a camera with additional batteries, binoculars, a decent pair of hiking boots, long-sleeved clothing, a helmet, sunscreen cream and insect repellent cream, garden gloves, bottled water, energy drinks, and snacks, a walking stick, which will be supplied at the park reception area.

While arranging a guided hike to Rukuzi trail or a chimpanzee trekking tour to the Nyungwe forest national park, you might want to also visit Volcanoes National Park for one of the most unforgettable experiences like mountain gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, visiting twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, Dian Fossey gravesite and many others.

What to do in Nyungwe Forest National Park?

Sebitoli Sector of Kibale Forest National Park

Primate Tracking

The most popular activity in the national park is monkey tracking, which allows visitors to learn more about chimpanzee lifestyles such as feeding patterns, and to snap photographs with them. Chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkeys, silver monkeys, golden monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, Ruwenzori colobus, and grey-cheeked mangabeys are among the 13-primate species found in the park. These playful primates, such as chimps, are such a fantastic narrative to tell since the tourist is permitted to spend time with them. The park features two chimpanzee habituated groups, one small with 30 chimpanzees tracked in the Cyamudongo forest and one large with around 60 chimpanzees.

Bird Watching

With over 322 bird species reported, Nyungwe forest is likely one of Rwanda’s most significant bird-watching venues, with the majority being forest specialists and 26 being regional endemics whose distribution is limited to a few forests along the Albertine Rift. Bird watching at Nyungwe Forest might be tedious due to the dense undergrowth and numerous birds sticking to the canopy, yet practically everything you see counts as an excellent sighting.

Gorgeous Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Strip-breasted Tit, Red-collared Babbler, Rwenzori Batis, Blue-headed sunbird, Kivu Ground Thrush, Kungwe Apalis, and Yellow-eyed black flycatcher are among the common regional endemic bird species found in Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Bird Watching in Nyungwe Forest
Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest

Wildlife Viewing

Enjoy seeing varied animals such as Cerval cat, mongoose, leopard, Congo clawless otter, and others since the park comprises around 85 mammal species. The majority of the species in the park have restricted ranges and can only be found in the montane forest of the Albertine Rift.

Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest is the biggest surviving tract of Tropical Afro-Montane rainforest in East Africa, spanning over a radius of 1015 square kilometers. One of the great activities not to miss out on during your visit to this park is the Canopy walk in Nyungwe forest, a three-hour thriller on a 200-meter-long track perched 50 meters above the forest canopy. The view from the top of the trees provides an eagle’s eye view and a magnificent experience of the Nyungwe forest. You will also get the opportunity to witness several monkeys as they swing in the trees and various birds.

How to Get to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda?

You will drive south from Kigali across Lake Kivu to Nyungwe National Park. The distance between Kigali and Nyungwe National Park is roughly 225 kilometers, which will take you approximately 6 hours to get to the park.

Travel to Nyungwe By Bus.

If you are looking to travel to Nyungwe forest national park by bus, you can take a bus going to Ruzizi from Nyabugogo Bus Park in Kigali city, and then get off at Uwinka. This travel option will take you about 5-7 hours depending on the number of stopovers along the way.

Travel to Nyungwe By Air.

Traveling to Nyungwe forest national park by air is possible for those looking to cut down on the long driving hours. You can fly from Kigali International Airport to Kamembe International Airport using RwandAir. Once you land in Kamembe, you will take a 32 kilometer drive to Nyungwe National Park.

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