NYUNGWE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest remaining tract of montane rainforest in East Africa; Nyungwe extends for 1,015km2over the mountainous southwest of Rwanda, forming a contiguous forest block with Burundi’s 370km2 Kibira Narktional Park. The park is the most important catchment area in Rwanda supplying water to 70% of the country, and its central ridge divides Africa’s two largest drainage systems, the Nile and the Congo, a spring on the slopes of the 2,950m Mount Bigugu is now regarded to be most remote source of the world’s longest river.
Nyungwe is a remarkable rich centre of biodiversity. More than 1,050 plant species, 250 Albertine Rift Endemics and 200 orchids, along with at least 120 butterfly species. The vertebrate fauna includes 32 amphibians, 38 reptiles, 85 mammals and 310 bird species of which about 15% are Albertine Rift Endemics.
At Nyungwe primates are the main attraction, 13 species are present including chimpanzee with a population estimated at 500-1000 which is usually tracked at a short notice or even the sound they make in the jungle, several other monkeys are readily seen; including the L’Hoest’s monkey and acrobatic Ruwenzori colobus.
Nyungwe is also highly alluring to birders, botanist and keen walkers, with its 130 network of walking trails and the only sight for suspended canopy walk, the park features few tourist itineraries, because the forest trails require a lot of stamina than Volcanoes National Park.
Nyungwe is a home to 13 species of primates the park is the only destination in Rwanda that offers chimpanzee trekking. Chimpanzee tracking starts in the morning and its best to carry a day pack where you have a couple of liters of water, have long trousers, the long sleeved shirt, rain jacket, the hiking boots and a hat.
Chimpanzees at the park are being habituated which means they are used to human beings. . Chimp tracking here is although more hit-and-miss than gorilla tracking in Virungas, partly because these smaller and less sedentary apes are usually found either feeding high in the trees or moving swiftly along the ground.
Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk
Suspended between higher slopes and giant trees about 1km from Uwinka, the metallic walkway is almost 200m long, with maximum height of around 40 metres, and it offers a superb for birders and over a steep stream bed lined with tall trees and fern. It can feel quite unstable to those with poor head for heights.
This walk is also an activity not to be missed in Rwanda. In case you are coming to Rwanda to trek the mountain gorillas.
Nyungwe forest has 310 bird species 27 Albertine rift endemics part of the species that are established in the forests of the Albertine Rift Endemics, of which three are (red-collared, Rockefeller’s sunbird and Albertine owlet) are unregistered elsewhere on the eastern side of the Albertine rift. Bird watching at Nyungwe is good since the vegetation is good for birds and many birds are usually seen at the canopy. Of the 27 Albertine Rift Endemics found in Nyungwe Forest National Park are the Ruwenzori Turaco, handsome francolin, red-faced woodland warbler, collared apalis, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, mountain masked apalis, Ruwenzori batis and regal sunbird.
Nyungwe National park is a home to also trek Ruwenzori colobus, grey cheeked Mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkey, Owl faced monkey, Mona monkeys, Dent’s monkey, silver monkey and blue monkey. It is a mystical experience to come across a forest covered with colobus monkey with their black and white colors.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the perfect park for hiking, with a varied selection of walking prospects and other expeditions.
The trail takes you to through astonishing views of Lake Kivu and the hills of DRC. Birders come here to see the localized red-collared mountain babbler, but the area also boosts some wonderful wildflowers, ranging from red-hot pokers and orchids to giant lobelias.
Set on the slopes of Nyabwe near the park’s eastern boundary, this new circular trail is the only straightforward option open to people staying at the KCCEM Guesthouse without their own transport, since the trailhead lies about 200m down a side road on the left of the main road only 3km past Kitabi Entrance Gate. The trail is ideal for camping.
This trail leads from the forested main road downhill to the relatively low-lying Kamiranzovu, this trail is the parks’ largest swamp, set within a caldera like depression.
This is one of the easiest trail in Nyungwe, and the best for bird watching. The absence of big trees is largely because human disturbance, first as gold mine and market.
This superb trail starts at the Gisakura Tea Plantations and to the largest waterfall in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest remaining tract of montane rainforest in East Africa, the park contains 13 primate species including are present including chimpanzee with a population estimated at 500-1000 which is usually tracked at a short notice or even the sound they make in the jungle, several other monkeys are readily seen; including the L’Hoest’s monkey acrobatic Ruwenzori colobus, Dent’s Mona Monkey, Olive Baboon, Vervet Monkey, Silver Monkey, Angola Colobus and the red-tailed Monkey.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is an important site for birders; there are 284 bird species and 26 species of the Albertine Rift Endemic bird area which occur in Rwanda. The birds at Nyunwe Forest National Park include among others; the Rockefeller’s sun bird, Chapin’s flycatcher, Ruwenzori Turaco, Batis diops, Ruwenzori Batis, Handsome Francolin, Regal Sunbird, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Francolins Nobilis, Black and White Hornbill, Regal Sunbird and Yellow –eyed Black Flycatcher.
Nyungwe is remarkably rich in biodiversity in the region, more than 200 tree species including orchids, flowering plants and giant lobelia. The park has a span of vegetation zones that are dispensed according to their different altitudes. At 2500m above sea level, you explore the Alpine vegetation which is characterized by bamboo and shrubs. At 2250m, there lies a range of tall trees and fern species such as Polycscias, Newtonia and Symphonia. At 1900m, there lies taller tree species like Carapa, Cyathea Manniana and Newtonia.
Nyungwe forest national a park is located in south west of Rwanda close to the Burundi border in the south, the park is the main catchment area in Rwanda.
Nyungwe National Park is 217km from Kigali; you will need a good 4×4 vehicle to reach on time. A car is enjoyable and suitable. There several scenic observations along the way. When time allows you can make a few stops, you could stop at the National Museum to see locally made arts and craft, and cultural entertainment. There is also the Nyamagabe (formerly called Gikongoro) the satellite town of Murambi was the site of one of the memorable fear of the 1994 genocide.
You can book a flight with Rwanda Air, the airline offers a private flight, and one of its favorite routes is Kigali-Kamembe. The airline is active the whole week from Kigali to Kamembe International airport. Kamembe is 49km 1 hour drive to Nyungwe forest lodge.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge
The lodge was set up in 2010 and the favorite for tourists at the park simply because it is situated in the middle of a Tea Plantation close to Nyungwe forest national park boundary, the lodge is designed to match with the surrounding ecosystem stretch matching the level of a five star wilderness lodge.
Nyungwe forest lodge furnishes accommodation in 24 luxury rooms in spacious state of art wooden chalets with king sized beds, air conditioner/ heater satellite TV, bathroom with a hot tub and shower and a veranda. The lodge also features 2 presidential bedrooms each containing a Jaccuzi.
The lodge contains a large fresh dinning sitting area combines clean modern lines with attractive ethnic décor, swimming pool, jaccuzi pool, boutique stock, conference facilities, wifi, current restaurant, gym and laundry.
Facilities at Nyungwe Forest Lodge
- Tea and coffee making facility
- Private veranda
- En-suite bathroom
- Fire place
- Air conditioning
- Satellite TV
Activities at Nyungwe Forest Lodge
- Chimpanzee trekking
- Kamiranzori Swamp and Waterfall walks
- Bird watching
- Cultural walks
Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel
Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel is set on an isolated hill top with stuning panoramic views of the tea plantation and west to Lake Kivu.
The hotel has 12 stone cottages; king sized beds, large sitting room with fireplace, and en-suite bathroom with hot shower and a balcony with a lake and forest view. The common area of the hotel is a large circular two storey building with a wide balcony on the first floor; with a reception on the ground floor and a bar area is on the second floor where you can enjoy some great views of Lake Kivu and the Virungas Volcanoes.
Activities at Nyungwe Top View Hotel
- Chimpanzee Trekking
- High canopy walk
- Birding walks
The lodge stands 2km outside the forest close to Gisakura Tea Plantation; it has a suitable location for excellent Isumo Trail and the visit of the colobus group on the Gisakura Tea Plantation. Vervet monkeys sometimes pass through the guesthouse grounds. The guesthouse serves good meals, beers, sodas and selection of wine.
The guesthouse offers the opportunity to visit chimpanzees of Nyungwe forest, the top canopy walks, birding walks and a chance to encounter with forest monkeys.
Nyungwe Forest National Park entry fees vary according to the activities to be done at the national park.
The cost for tracking chimps is US$90 for non-residents and US$60 for resident foreigners citizens 500Rwf, 10$ for EAC Nationals, 60$ for EAC Foreign Residents, Rwf2, 500 for Rwandan Citizen Students, 5$ for EAC Students, 30$ for Foreign Resident Students for one day.
Canopy walk is 60$ for Foreign Non-residents, 50$ for Foreign Residents and 5000Rwf for local Rwanda citizen
The cost of tracking other primates is charge $70 non-residents, $45 foreign resident and 3000Rwf for local Rwanda citizens.
For birding foreign non-residents pay $70 for one day, foreign residents pay$45 and local Rwandan Citizens pay 3000Rwf.
Different guided walks value US$50 per head for foreign non-residents and US$40 for resident foreigners