Nyungwe National Park is located near the Kivu Lake at the border of Rwanda and Burundi in the southern part of Rwanda. It was first a forest reserve before it was turned into a National park in the year 2004. The National Park is covered with the Nyungwe forest which is believed to be the only largest remaining montane forest in Africa. The Nyungwe forest which is filled with quite a large number of unique trees is the one stop Centre for most botanical fanatics with tree species like the podocarps, the Prinaria exelsium, the Carapa, Macaranga among others. These act as homes to some of the bird species in the country and a few animals that are found in the Park.
When to visit the Nyungwe National Park
The Nyungwe National Park can be visited all throughout the year because most of the activities can also be carried out all year round but the best time for one to explore the Park is during the dry season which runs from June to January. There will be light showers during this period and most of the hike routes will be easily accessible.
There are a lot of activities that tourists can involve in while in Nyungwe. These are the memories that you will get to keep and you will want to come back to the National Park just so that you can engage in these activities again. Some of the activities that you can carry out while in the Nyungwe National Park include:
Nature walks in the Nyungwe Park
The nature walk through the Nyungwe Park involves a canopy tour which should definitely be the climax of your tour to the Nyungwe Park. There are different canopy trails that are found in the park and these are painted different colors so that you can get to know which ones you have used and those that you have not. It is not for the faint hearted and those that are scared of heights with some of them going for over 8 hours before they are completed while others just go for just an hour. Some of the canopy trails that you can use include:
- The waterfall trail
- The Igishigishigi which is the shortest route.
- The Bigugu Mountain trail and this is the most difficult.
Cycling through the Park
Considered to be one of the best ways in which tourists can explore the whole park even to those corners of the park that are so hard to get to while driving. The best trail to use for biking is the Congo Nile trail and while on this route you will have some great views of the best bird species and wild animals but get ready to camp because this route is way too long and you will have t camp for the night at some pint. The bikes are always on hire and you should not forget to take some warm clothes with you, camping gear and some food.
Birding in Nyungwe National Park
The Nyungwe National Park has about 300 bird species habituating in within it and this makes it a good destination for all birders from across the world. The birds in Nyungwe live in different sections of the National Park and while you would want to do birding by yourself, it is advisable that you take a tour guide with you so that you can get to explore the many sections found in the Park. The National Park also has unique bird life which includes 27 Albertine bird species that are extremely rare and some of the other bird species that you should look out for include:
- The purple throated sunbird
- Chapin’s flycatcher
- The handsome francolin
- The white bellied robin chat
- The Mountain sooty Boubou
- Rwenzori double collared warbler
- The grey chested Kakamega
- The Barred long tailed cuckoo
- The Rwenzori Batis
- Lagden’s bush shrikes
- The blue Turaco
- The yellow eyed flycatcher
The best birding experience can be got after one books for the birding trip in advance and you will part with a rough budget of 50 US dollars only. With the help and knowledge of a tour guide, you will see the many bird species through the well-marked birding trails. The best time to go for birding in Nyungwe National Park is during the dry season when the migratory birds fly into the National Park.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe
Nyungwe National Park is the best Park in the country for chimpanzee trekking with over 400 chimpanzees that all belong to the different families. This is done all year round and you will find that with there are only two families among the many are habituated and these are found in the Cyamudongo and Unwika. A chimpanzee trekking permit costs about 100 US dollars and this can be paid either to the tour operator or the Rwanda Development board.
The chimpanzee trekking experience is one thing that you should try out and some of the thing that you should take to make your experience worthwhile and these include long sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid mosquito bites and branch scratches, strong hiking boots, a walking stick to help you out during the muddy times and a tour guide to take you around.
The chimpanzees are always on the move which will not be as easy as you want to be but once they settle down, you will realize that they have characteristics that almost look similar to humans like grooming, eating habits and so many others.
Trekking Monkeys in Nyungwe National Park
The Nyungwe National Park has quite a large number of monkeys that habitate within it and trekking these tricky primates is an activity that every tourist should try out while on a trip to Rwanda. The Park not only has monkeys but there are also baboons and chimpanzees that you can trek. There are different types of monkeys that you will get to see in Nyungwe and some of them include:
- The Vervet monkeys
- The colobus monkeys
- The Dent’s Mona monkeys
- The red tailed monkeys
- The Hamlyn’s monkeys
- The grey cheeked Mangabeys
- Golden monkeys although they are rare
- The L’Hoest’s monkeys among others.
The monkeys are known to travel in groups of 100 and these plus other primates can be trekked using four main identified and well-marked trek routes which you can use to get a great view of the primates.
The Unwika campsite trail, this starts from the campsite and is later on divided into two trails that is the red and grey trails. The Grey Unwika trail is about one kilometer long whereas the Red Unwika trail is 10 kilometers long. This trail has over 300 colobus monkeys for you to see.
The Bigugu trail, this trail is mainly filled with monkeys that prefer to stay in high altitude places and a few of those that are in the different trails. It is a steep climb which will then lead you to the Bigugu Mountain.
The Kamiranzovu trail, this is the best trail that can be used for primate trekking since it is not all that strenuous and it has the largest number of monkey species in the whole Park.
The waterfall trail, this is the best trail to use for all those that want to see the colobus monkeys.
Accommodation facilities in Nyungwe National Park
The Café bar Keza
This is a budget friendly accommodation facility which has 10 self-contained rooms, a bar where you can get a drink and also enjoy the company of the locals who normally show up to watch football matches especially on the weekends. Although the rooms are small, they are perfectly clean, affordable and comfortable.
The KCCEM guest house
The KCCEM guest house is a budget friendly accommodation facility that is found in the eastern part of the National Park. It is a very organized place with about twenty rooms that are all self-contained and it also has a canteen from where you can buy a few necessities especially local food and some international cuisines.
The Gisakura Guest house
The Gisakura guest house is found just 2 kilometers away from the Nyungwe National park and it has rooms that are budget friendly for all tourists. They are not self-contained and the bathroom although shared are always cleaned. There is a restaurant where you can get your meals from as low as 8 US dollars.
The Unwika campsite
The Uwinka campsite is the perfect accommodation for all those that love camping. There are several tents that are erected in the campsite and a platform was constructed to protect them from the winds and getting drenched especially in the wet season. The campsite also has a very good view of almost the entire park and you can get to see some of the animals that live within the Park from here. It has basic necessities and when it comes to showering and any other activity that involves water, you have to fetch water using a bucket.
The Nyungwe Top view hill Hotel
Located right in the middle of the Nyungwe National Park, the Nyungwe Top view hotel was opened up in 2011 and it is one of the best accommodation facilities in the National Park. It has good self-contained rooms each with a private balcony from where you can get a very clear view of the whole park and the Mountains. They have a good restaurant where all meals are served that is both local and international, they have a shuttle to take you around and it offers tourists hiking expeditions.