Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda

Nyungwe National park is found in south western Rwanda on the borders with Burundi’s Kibera National Park. It actually covers some 1,000sq km on the foot slopes of the densely forested hills that push in to Burundi.

It is the largest montane forest park that dates back to the ice age yet has remained intact thanks to the intense conservation effort of the Rwanda government and the tourist board. More than 200 different trees are found within the park not mentioning ht emyriad of colorful orchids, wild flowers and giant lobelia.




Somewhere in the South Western corner of Rwanda with the Albertine Rift valley and at the border of Burundi lays a vast unscathed sultry rainforest called the Nyungwe which spreads to over 1,020km². Nyungwe is said to be one of Africa’s ancientforestry, for it stays greenall through the ice age, something that describes its miscellany.

This place which became contentedly situated since 2004 when it was established and in 2005 when it was officially protected by the Rwandan Development Board as a National Park has since then enticed globetrotters and somewhat this has enlarged Rwanda’s tourism sector away from the Volcanoes National Park’s stunning mountain gorillas.

In 2014, the Nyungwe Forest Park made it to the National Geographical list of the places you ought to visit, a move that has somewhat boosted tourism in the country specifically in the park. This came not as a bombshell because we are sure this park holds a lot to offer say the 1068 plant species, the reptiles and among others the 75 mammals and the impeccable view of the cooling mist over in a scenery that will surely be remembered.

Nyungwe Forest National Park comprises the prime swathe of residual montane woodland in the East and or the Central Africa. It is a safe haven toround about 310 different bird species, an unknown number of butterflies and orchidsnot forgetting the over 75 varieties of mammal speciesinclusive of the 13 primates like the Angola colobus that is found in groups of 300-400 animals. What’s more, the giant aged mahoganies, ebonies, mammoth tree plants, whilst orchids and oversized tree bracken shoot up just like those told in the prospects from a number of enchanted accounts.

Other kinds of wildlife out there that you will probably get to appreciatecomprise of the spotted hyenas, squirrels, the leopards, bush babies and the giant forest hogs to mention but a few.

In the land of a thousand hills, Nyungwe is the primary water catchment that shelters over two-thirds of all of its aqua.It also is the birthplace of Africa’s great rivers. Precipitation that descends on the Eastern sideways nourishes the Nile and that on the Western sidedashes in to Congo. The Congo-Nile Division is a foothill range that runs from the North to the South all the way through Rwanda.

Nyungwe has been avowed to be“the most important site for biodiversity conservation in Rwanda” by the Birdlife International for its roughly 280 feathered friendly species. Of these, 25 are pervasive. Nyungwe’s forests cover the altitudes that are surrounded by few additional forests in Africa.

Getting to the Nyungwe Forest Park.

It takes about 4-5 hours driving to the Nyungwe Forest National Park from Kigali on thehigh-quality and at times snaky roads. Attractions en route your destinations includethe Nyanza King’s Palace and the National Museum should you desire to cut short your journey only so you could take a sneak peek into these legendary sites.

The Uwinka Visitor Centre in the interior of the park is well worth a visit. It holds information on the history of Nyungwe, the fauna and flora and the native culture as well. In this center, one can get to hire guides needed on any activity within and around the park. These tour guides are an essential requirement for any of the hikes that are to take place within the Nyungwe National Park.



The Chimpanzee expeditions in the Nyungwe Forest.

Nyungwe is theconsummateterminus for the aficionados of the primates. Having the 13 disparate species living here, the majority of visitors are likely to opt for no less thana single tracking experience, the most popular being the Chimpanzee trekking. These primates aretrailed in groups of eight, as is with theexample of the mountain gorillas. You are designated just an hour in their presence after they have been found. Sightings of these chimps are barely reliable and are unclear dissimilarfrom those of the gorillasbecause they often remain in the impenetrable forest. Seeing themdelightfully play and watching their humanly distinctiveness will most likely make your lengthy day valuable.

Rummaging around for Grey-cheeked mangabey and Rwenzori colobus monkeys is similarly an offer available in the Nyungwe Forest. The second however can be found here in units of several hundred. Better still, there is no need for one to trek so far to see L’Hoest monkeys as you will often see them mooching near the roadside as you ride along. Other monkeys you will probably see there are the velvet, golden, crowned, red-tailed, owl faced monkeys and the olive baboon to mention but a few.

It is advisable however that the booking of permits be done in advance. Some of the permits go for US$ 70 for the colobus permit and US$ 90 for a chimpanzee permit.


The forest hiking trails in Nyungwe

There are more than 130 km of hiking paths that have been put in place withinthe Nyungwe Forest National Park which make it possible for theguests to see the sights on the inside and the mesmerizing habitats too. A walk through Nyungwe is exceptional;especially with the trails that last for close to eight hours.


The superbly named Igishigishigi Trail is one of the unswervingfootslog that includes East Africa’s uppermost canopy walkwayamid theremarkable views throughthe Nyungwe Forest. This canopy is an in height suspension passage that lies 50 meters above the ground and is 200 meters long and also runs till the Kamiranzovu Marsh. It is a precipitous and bottomless valley that has towers which are a hanging platform for the tourists to grasp a crystal clear glimpse of the wide range of animal and bird species that get to meet with the eye.  Along this stretch of trail be sure to see attractive examples of the umbrella tree which is at times cultivated in the community precincts for its artistic branching and outsized foliage.


You can also catch the 6 hour Bigugu Trail that takes you to the topmost mountain in the grounds at 2950 meters; get to see the waterfalls and other eye-catching sights that are present in the forest.It is advisable however, that the canopy and nature trails in this Forest Park be done in the waterless seasons as there is a slight rain storm that could interrupt the sight seers while going about their activities.


Putting aside the popular breathtaking hikes, one can opt to engage in other activities like going biking on the stunning terrains only to catch a glimpse of the attractive nature Nyungwe Forest has got to offer. Thereafter one can then catch a breath at the soothing cascades.

Bird watching in the Nyungwe Forest.

Nyungwe Forest National Park hasjust about 310 species of birds residing there which is something impressive. Although most tropical forests require you to look hard for these birds, Nyungwe doesn’t chiefly because some, like those living in the upper scale of this famous tropical rain forest can be seen while on the canopy walk.

Some of the birds you will get to see consist of the giant hornbills, the Grauer’s rush, the Rwenzori turacos, the great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrow hawks among the many special scores available. 27 of these are widespread to the segment of the Albertine Rift Valley.



The tours on the Tea Plantations.

Nyungwe National park receives the majority number of sight-seers who not only settle for the irresistible desire to head out into the forest but also prefer going on a journey to thoroughly appreciate the tea estates. Being the chief ranking export in this land of a thousand hills, tours on tea plantations have been organized in a range of localities all over Rwanda. The most common are situated around the Nyungwe National Park in Gisakura and Gisovu. These tours are indiscriminative and visitors of all age brackets are encouraged to hop in for a ride.

Lodging at the Safari Campsites and cabins.

Accommodation in the national park is quite limited but opportunely it spans across an array of budgets. One of Rwanda’s best lodges, the Nyungwe Forest Lodgeis an up-market luxurious chalet that opens out over the forest. Its conveniences include among others a perpetuity pool and fitness center with great eye shots which overlook the forest canopy from a ridge on one side and a tea estate on the other.  This up-market lodge is an impressive place that is worth spending your time at.

On the far end is a low-budget ORTPN Rest housethat is also namedthe Gisakura Guest house. Its rooms are modest, the crew is sociable and ready to lend a hand better still the atmospheres are in a stimulating way supercilious and unruffled since the place is also at the upper hand of the woodlands.Last but surely not the least, this Gisakura Guest House is just freestanding from the forest and offers simple and comfy residential areas that are pocket friendly and while you are here, it is easy for you to leave your house for a trek in the woodlands after driving for a 40 minute journey.

For other options, one can check out the available sleep out services at Uwinka that are great for the tourists that do not mind spending the nighttime in the woods. However, those that also care about where they lay their heads can for a fee check out the little cabins still at Uwinka that might be unfilled. The only tricky situation still is that they are very inadequate.

Before I forget, you can grab yourself some meals in a town called Cyangugu where you will find a variety of restaurants and hotels. It is only an hour’s drive along the Democratic Republic of Congo border from Gisakura.



If you opted for Rwanda primates safaris, Nyungwe is your second best option after the gorillas of Volcanoes National Park. There are more than 9 different species of primates habituating the forest canopy of Nyungwe forest. Some of these include Chimpanzees, L’Hoest monkeys, white and black acrobatic colobus among many others

Other mammals within the park include rare sights of duiker and leopard among other smaller mammals.

Birds in Nyungwe Forest have made the forest an important ornithological site in Rwanda. Nyungwe has nearly 300 bird species among then 24 of the Albertine Rift endemics. Some of the birds in Nyungwe forest include great blue turaco – an outlandish blue, red and green birds among others


The main gate is found at Uwinka on the Cyangugu-Butare highway. The park is actually some 45km from Cyangugu town following the signpost on the highway and some 90km from Butare. An extensive network of well-maintained walking trails leads through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points.


A comfortably rustic resthouse and perfectly situated campsite lie alongside the main road and near Uwinka Gate but you are supposed to pack lots of warm blankets as it get freezing in the night. See the aprk authoirities about camping fees and permits. Some of the famous Rwanda hotels for Nyungwe forest Park visitors include L’Hoest house, Ten to Ten Cyangugu Paradise, Gisakura guesthouse, Hotel Credo Butare, Peace Guesthouse, Hotel Faucon Butare and Hotel ibis in Butare

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