Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda
Conveniently located in the resplendent hills of southwestern Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is bordering Democratic Republic of Congo on the west and Burundi on the southern part with Lake Kivu. The park is the only one in the Central and East Africa with enormous Montane forest. Its strategic location in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo on the western part of the park and the basin of the river Nile on the eastern section makes the forest to be one of the fabulous sources of the famous Nile suited on the eastern part of park.
Established in the year 2004, Nyungwe Forest National park consists of an estimated area land of 970 km² of rainforest and other varied vegetation types such as bamboo, grassland, blogs and swamps. Cyangugu town is the only nearest town situated a mere 54 kilometers from the town to the park driving on the western direction and Mount Bigugu is strategically positioned within the park frontiers.
Tourist Activities Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda
Chimp Tracking; Nyungwe Forest national Park is famous in the land of thousand hills for memorable chimpanzee trekking. These human cousins thrive in the Montane forest of Nyungwe and they account for the many visits recorded by Nyunngwe national Park. A beautiful hike through the forest trails will lead you to these charming primate creatures where you can have an opportunity to encounter them face to face. The highly rewarding Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe is carried out year-round and since they are wildlife, it is never guaranteed that you will see them, but sightings are very common since they have been habituated for tourism purposes. Chimpanzee trekking experience is totally different from gorilla tracking done in Volcanoes national park as visitors can enjoy the chimps are running around, jumping from tree to another, imitating visitors signs so the sightings are very interesting . Permits for chimpanzee trekking can be acquired through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or through tour operator.
Exclusive Trekking in search of other primate species like grey-cheeked mangabey and Rwenzori colobus monkeys is also worthwhile experience offered by Nyungwe Forest. And there’s no need to trek far to see l’Hoest’s monkeys – you will often encounter them ambling along the roadside as you drive past.
Birding; Nyungwe forest park is considered as very significant tourism destination in Rwanda where bird lovers can enjoy their safari. With an estimated total of 280 bird species, 25 of which are endemic, birding is one of the rewarding and commonly done activities in Nyungwe’s forests park. The park is home to myriad or wide-range of orchids, butterflies, moths and other splendid insects. The birds in Nyungwe Forest National Park are very delightful. Birders to the park also have an opportunity to look at or view the Giant hornbills, red-breasted sparrow hawks, great blue turacos amongst other unique species. The common Albertine Rift Endemic bird species mainly seen in Nyungwe national park include Kungwe Apalis Apalis argentea, Red-throated Alethe Alehe poliophrys, Ruwenzori Apalis Apalis ruwenzorii Stripe-breasted Tit Parus fasciiventer, Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops.
Canopy Walk; Launched in October 2010 by Rwanda Development Board, Canopy Walk is one of the adventurous activities selling as hot cake in Nyungwe. It’s the only attraction/activity of its kind in whole of East African region. The Canopy walk is the first ever hanging platform that offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the views and sights of different animal species as well as bird species in Nyungwe Forest. The dizzying platform is above a steep and deep valley stretching across the massive forest.
Perfectly Located fifty (50) meters above the ground, and 200 meters long, the canopy walk gives you a thrilling tree-to-eye view of Nyungwe Forest. Its highly rewarding activity for both children and adults travellers. There is a mini guided hike to the canopy walk, which starts at Nyungwe National Park headquarters- the Uwinka tourist reception center and it’s charged USD $60 per person. The minimum age is 6 years old and an adult must accompany children. The canopy walk is done at all times during the year. However, due to the fact that Rain is very common in Nyungwe Forest, it is recommendable for visitors bring a raincoat. Alternatively, raincoats and boots can also be rented at the park headquarters. Walking sticks are offered free of charge.
Hikes & Nature Walks; Nyungwe Forest Park also offers over one hundred thirty (130) kilometers of hiking routes/trails. These allow tourists to the park to explore its interior and its fascinating habitats. Walking in Nyungwe is comprehensive and excellent, with trails lasting from (1-8) one to eight hours. Igishigishigi Trail is one of the shortest hiking trails but highly paying in terms of scenic views, while the 6 hour Bigugu Trail leads visitors to the highest mountain in the Park at 2950m.
Nature walks: walking through an extensive network of well-coordinated walking trails as you enjoy the picturesque vegetation, is one of the unforgettable adventures that the park offers. Most of these trails lead visitors to various picturesque waterfalls and viewing points in different parts of the park.
Tourist Attractions Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda
Birds; Nyungwe forest national park is categorized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International as an “Important Bird Area” (IBA) and this implies that the park is safe haven for bird lovers. The park is proud of 278 bird species and out of these; twenty-six (26) can be only got with the forest located along the Albertine Rift. Among the exclusive bird species in park include the Grauer’s Rush Warbler which are only said to be found in the Albertine Rift Valley and lives in the mountain swamps of Kamiranzovou. The Ruwenzori Turaco bird species are not easily seen elsewhere but plentiful in Nyungwe forest national park. The most charming and rare sunbirds like the endemic Purple-breasted plus Blue-headed can be easily sighted or viewed feeding in flowering trees of Nyungwe. One of the two hornbill bird species spotted as Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, are famous in the forest for its big bill and honking call. The common Albertine Rift Endemic bird species mainly seen in Nyungwe national park include Kungwe Apalis Apalis argentea, Red-throated Alethe Alehe poliophrys, Ruwenzori Apalis Apalis ruwenzorii Stripe-breasted Tit Parus fasciiventer, Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops, and Ruwenzori Nightjar Caprimulgus ruwenzorii as well as Dusky Crimson Wing Cryptospiza jacksoni and Archer’s Robin-chat Cossypha archeri.
Fauna; The highly endowed ancient Nyungwe forest boasts of a wide range of animal/wildlife species and this earn it conservation and protection status in Africa. The rich forest is located in a region where various enormous biogeographically zones meet/converge with the different types of terrestrial biomes creating a wide -range of microhabitats that support the survival different wildlife species.
The outstanding park in the land of thousand hills boasts of thirty(13) different/exclusive primate species comprising of 25% of Africa’s total number of primates species, eighty-five ( 85) mammal species, Thirty two (32) amphibian and thirty eight(38) reptile species. Most of these wildlife species are endemic to the Albertine right valley region.
Nyungwe‘s main wildlife species drawing the attention of the many travellers involve the 500 Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) that thrive in the protected areas of the park. A safari to Nyungwe to be guided by the Professional guides working in the park offers one an opportunity to spot or view their signs: nests, calls, or scat. Nyungwe national park is the only destaintaion in Africa where the Adolf Friedrich’s Angolan Colobus (Colobus angolensis Ruwenzori) join to form large “super groups” of over three hundred fifty (350) individuals.
Lhotse’s Monkey, Sun-tailed Gabon and Preuss’ Cameroon are the only three monkey species that are identified to have lived in the Nyungwe frorest before even the occurrence of the ice age. Over time the Nyungwe forest has been partitioned into parts and each monkey got accustomed to its own part of the forest and the existence of separate species in the forest. For instance the Blue Monkey also called the tree-dwelling guenons can be easily found around Uwinka. While Silver Monkey, Golden Monkey, Hamlyn’s Monkey, Red-tailed Monkey, and Dent’s Mona Monkey Vervet Monkey as well as Olive Baboon and Grey-cheeked Mangabey .
Other animals’; species in the park include the leopard, serval cat, golden cat, side-stripped jackal, African civet, Genet, marsh mongoose and slender which well- represent the carnivores mammal species. There are also three (3) species of duikers, squirrels, two species of flying and tree hyrax. Read More
Flora; Nyungwe National Park is the only park with an enormous montane forest in East or Central Africa and also considered one of the most ancient forest originating back from the the last Ice Age. Described as an endowed Centre of floral diversity, Nyubgwe forest consists of more than 200 distinct types of trees, and countless number of flowering plants including the worldly giant lobelia and a host of cheerful orchids. The flora /plant life in the park varies/changes depending on the altitude or elevation level, for example at an altitude of 2950 m Subalpine – bamboo as well as shrubs vegetation Species exist, while at an elevation of 2500m above sea level, Podocarpus, Phillipia, bamboo, Erica johnstonii are present and at an altitude of 2250m, Podocarpus, Syzygium, Macaranga, Balthacaria, Hagenia vegetation species mainly dominate etc. Epiphytes species like mosses, orchids as well as ferns and other unique plant species that survive high in trees without help of soil. These “air plants “which do not require soil are features of misty mountain rainforests. This unique fruit which cannot be found somewhere else in Rwanda comes from a tree species called Carapa grand flora, a tree endemic to Nyungwe forest only. Monkeys as well as squirrels plus other primate species feed on the big round seeds, whereas chimpanzees, monkeys and human beings feed /eat the young fruits. African mahogany-locally called umuyove” is one of the enormous trees in the forest. Nyungwe’s varied /changing vegetation offers a broad range of habitats for its various flora species. The forested park boasts of over 1000 unique types of plants only found in the nature endowed Albertine Rift.
Nyungwe National Park is natural habitat to wide-range of medicinal plants and the descriptions of some of these plants can be found in the Handbook of African Medicinal Plants by Maurice M. Iwu. Another book that might be of interest is Medicinal Plants of East Africa by John O. Kokwaro.
How to get to Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda
Nyungwe National Park is located in southwest Rwanda and about 6-7 hours’ drive from Kigali City to the Park. To get there, one can take a bus out of Kigali from Nyabugogo Bus Park towards Ruzizi and hop off at Uwinka Center. The bus ride to Nyungwe will be closer to 8 hours or longer.
The main entrance is at Uwinka on the main Cyangugu – Huye road. It’s about 55km from Cyangugu and 90km from Huye. The road is mostly in good condition. There are regular buses along the route and hitching is also an option. Buses are often full when the reach here and therefore travellers planning to use a bus should board it Bus Park. The park is located 225 Km from Kigali and 90 Km from Butare.
Places To Stay in Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda
Nyungwe forest lodge – Luxury;
Nyungwe forest lodge is well constructed/designed in the manner that it fits harmoniously within its delightful natural environ of Nyungwe forests. The lodge offers luxury/ upmarket visitors excellent five star lodging services and facilities with features of local culture, fluently fused with quality service and African courtesy. The lodge is located in Gisakura, a working tea plantation, conveniently found on the edge of the Nyungwe National Park
Nyungwe Forest Lodge has a total of twenty two (22) luxury rooms which are positioned in six (6) wooden villas of four (4) rooms each. In addition to the above, are the two presidential suites built in separate villas with one of these having a Jacuzzi. Being a luxury lodge suited in the heart of Nyungwe, the lodge’s rooms are modern fit-outs and well-designed/decorated with traditional touches. Each room is equipped with private decks which offer views overlooking the vast forest terrain. All the lodge are equipped with the following features; Air conditioner, Private deck, Hairdryer, Electronic safe (laptop size), En-suite bathroom with indoor shower, WiFi access, Fire place, Flat LCD screen and digital satellite channels, International electric adaptors among other interesting features.
The luxury lodge’s dining areas are constructed with a wood-fenced area equipped with tables as well as chairs around an open fire which offers a unique location for outdoor dining and sundowners, as well as a restaurant with a private terrace, a tea lounge and a bar. Meals take places.
The lodge has spacious events and conference room with better conference amenities and facilities which are suitable for any king of business meetings, birth day, get together parties among others.
The lodge also organizes excursion activities and among these includes walking and trekking in the National Park. Note that the lodge can organize any kind of activities that suits your individual needs or interests.
Nyungwe forest lodge offers to the guests staying in the lodge a number of amenities and facilities like Swim in the heated rim-flow swimming pool with views into the rainforest .At the pool side visitors can socialize while enjoying the sights of the green lush forest species. The lodge has treatment rooms and Jacuzzi pool where visitors can relax and refresh their bodies.
Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel – Mid-Range -Budget
Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel was officially opened in February 2011 and it has the most beautiful views in the Nyungwe Forest area. Located five minutes’ drive off a main road, up a very rough and steep dirt track, it is set on top of a hill with views across numerous tea plantations, and close to the headquarters of Nyungwe National Park.
The main areas at Nyungwe Top View have a large, two-tiered rondavel with a phenomenally high roof. Although a rondavel is usually a traditionally built round house, this building provides a rather more modern take on the theme. The ground floor, where one will find the reception, is sparsely furnished with a few modern angular sofas and walls adorned with traditional Rwandan murals. Circular wicker lights hang from the ceiling and dark tiled stairs lead you up to a mezzanine balcony.
Glass doors at the front of the rondavel open onto Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel’s beautifully kept lawn. On each side of this is a row of six red-brick cottages. Each of these double or twin cottages houses a small lounge area at the front, with terracotta-tiled floors, a sofa, chair and coffee table, and a fireplace which can be lit for you on cold evenings. Although the furniture is different in every cottage, it is always angular and modern, and not of great quality, so it appears to be wearing quite quickly.
The bedrooms are quite sparse, furnished only with a bed and some hanging space for clothes, but they have plenty of space and were spotlessly clean. There are no fans or air con but the team here will put hot-water bottles in your beds on cooler nights.
The Lodge‘s dining area is situated in the second floor, with tables and chairs set on a rather out-of-place black-tiled floor, and a sweeping veranda with tables and chairs of steel and moulded plastic. The views from here are stunning and on clear days you can even see Lake Kivu and the volcanoes of the Congo beyond. There is also a bar on this level made almost entirely from bottle tops, giving it a bright, very kitsch look: almost Art Deco. It really was a piece of art and probably our favorite part of the hotel.
The tiled bathrooms each have a sink, toilet and shower and some also have baths. Towels are provided but toiletries are not.
The activities offered at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel are mainly those carried out at Nyungwe Park. These include trekking out to see the Ruwenzori colobus monkeys, trekking the chimpanzees, birding walks, and – for adventurous travellers – the high canopy walk.
Gisakura Guest House- Budget
Gisakura Guest House is situated in just a walkable distance of two kilometers outside the Nyungwe National Park close to the Gisakura Tea Estate precisely on the road from Park to Rusizi former Cyangugu.
The guest house is budget facility offering extremely cheap and comfortable accommodation services to visitors. The rooms in the lodge are of three (3) types facilitated /furnished with shower and hot water. The lodge is the best place for visitors interested in exploring the parkwith very helpful, hospitable staff due to its convenient location close to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) office former ORTPN and RDB Reception for chimpanzee tracking or for any other visit in Nyungwe National Park.
Spending a night at the guest house implies that visitors has easy access to the Waterfall Trail, Canopy walk, Colobus troop living on the Gisakura Tea Estate, Vervet monkeys, a fair variety of birds are present in the small patch of forest in front of the Guest-house and many other trails in Park.
Guest who are planning to stay in the guest house are requested to book their rooms in advance and confirm one week before coming because it gives an assurance to the Guests of the availability of rooms or other service needed.
Room Type Rates in USD
Twin rooms US$43
Double rooms US$64
Triple room US$85