NYUNGWE FOREST NATIONAL PARK.
Situated in the middle of one of the most beautiful tea plantation fields in Rwanda, Nyungwe NP is considered to be the most ancient and preserved mountain forest in Africa. It has taken Rwandan tourism a notch higher evidenced by a multitude of daily chimpanzee tracking visitors.
Nyungwe forest NP was declared a game reserve by the German colonial governors in 1903. Later on, in the years 1958 to 1978, the park was threatened by bushfires, poaching and deforestation that saw a decrease in its size to almost 150 square kilometres. A good number of buffalos, elephants, and other fauna succumbed to poaching.
A research station, Uwinka was established in the early 1990s, however, the Rwanda genocide caused its demise later in 1994. Efforts to rebuild the facility were made in 1995 and finalised in 2004 with upgrade of a forest mountain to a fully-fledged national park. The standardisation of Nyungwe has turned it into a destiny for canopy walkers and birders.
Nyungwe forest has never stopped feeding two famous rivers, Nile and Congo to the east and west respectively in addition to being a water catchment area for Rwanda.
Wildlife in Nyungwe forest NP.
Wildlife is Nyungwe forest’s backbone comprising of over 280 birds, 13 primates, 32 amphibians, over 1060 floral types, 38 reptiles and several colourful butterfly species; the logic behind a multitude of visitors that come to Nyungwe NP!
Numerous monkey species like L’Hoest’s, Angola-Colobus, red-tailed, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Olive baboons and other fauna for example golden cats, fronted duiker, forest elephants and Sitatungas, are just a sample of the undiscovered glory that make Nyungwe a theatre of dreams.
Where is Nyungwe found?
It is situated in south western Rwanda, in Nyamasheke and Nyamagabo districts east of DRC, South of Lake Kivu and north Burundi.
How to get to Nyungwe NP?
On the road, five hours are enough to drive from Kigali to Nyungwe (about 230km). The journey to the park can bless you with a glimpse on the King’s palace in Nyanza and a national museum in Butare.
By air, Rwanda Air’s chattered flights from Kigali to Kabembe airport (32Km south of the park) are available. In addition; the Kabembe airport helicopter services offered by Nyungwe safari lodge which can make you skip the challenging 32 kilometre drive.
What is the best time to visit Nyungwe?
Any time of the year is a right time to access and visit the park, however, the most appropriate time is June to September and December to February (the dry months of Rwanda). The other months are full of rain that makes the trails slippery.
Activities in Nyungwe NP are legalised as soon as one acquires a permit (online) from either Rwanda development board website or that of the park often open 7am – 5pm daily.
ACTIVITIES IN NYUNGWE NP.
At Cyamudongo and Uwinka research centre is where the only two habituated chimpanzee families in Nyungwe are found. Similar to gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes NP, eight people are permitted to trek a given chimpanzee family at Nyungwe NP starting at 8am.
Due to the massive number of visitors of Nyungwe, one is advised to secure a permit worth 90$ for foreign non-residents as early as possible. This can be made possible through Irembo (an online platform) under the management of Rwanda Development Board responsible for tourism services or through a trusted, professional tour operator.
NOTE: 1. Trekking is strictly for those above the age of sixteen.
- Chimpanzee trekking prices in Nyungwe NP are inclusive of park entrance fee (one day), guide fee and trackers, but exclusive of porters.
Colobus Monkey trekking.
These live in groups of three hundred members per family. Colobus is one of the thirteen primate species in Nyungwe NP. Whereas you are trekking colobus, there is a possibility of viewing owl-faced and blue, L’Hoests’ Monkeys and so many other species of monkeys.
Approved as one of world-class walks on any safari in Rwanda, this 2 kilometre walk started in 2010 by an NGO called Green Hart supported by USAID. It can be accessed from Uwinka visitor station.
This two-hour walk rewards you with forest views and gorgeous Lake Kivu in the North. The walk is strictly for those above the age of six and an adult escort is a must company for children.
Paradise flycatcher, Ruwenzori Turraco, Forest Hornbill, Regal sunbird and red-Breasted Sparrow Hawk, among others are some of the twenty nine Abertine endemics which contribute to a total of 310 bird species in Nyungwe NP making it Rwanda’s top bird watching spot.
A guide is a necessity in as far as bird spotting is concerned due to the fact that some birds are hard to see. Their identification is made possible by their call from the guide.
Hiking/nature walks in Nyungwe Forest.
Nyungwe NP is a destination any hiker would wish not to miss because of the numerous established hiking trails (may take 1-8 hours) with the help of the guide. The hike introduces you to the true meaning of biodiversity with a glimpse on flora and fauna all over the place.
Over 130 kilometres of trails are in the park offering every visitor an opportunity to hike irrespective of their fitness level.
A list of options in relation to lodges is offered at Nyungwe NP. This gives visitors an opportunity to choose where to stay according to their financial capabilities and preferences.
Some of the many five-star lodges are Nyungwe house and Nyungwe forest lodge, while a budget option is Gisakura guesthouse.
Visit Nyungwe forest NP, all the moments shall be turned into memories!