Things to Do in Nyungwe Forest National Park – Activities
Nyungwe Park is renowned for offering link amazing activities when on your safari in Rwanda or East Africa. Do not expect any game drives as there is no road network and you can only explore the park on foot.
The most common activities are Chimpanzee trekking and the canopy walk which offers amazing sightings of wildlife.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Chimpanzee trekking is one of the most popular activities in Nyungwe Forest National Park as tourists get the opportunity of meeting the apes in the jungle.
One of the Chimp groups is in the Cyamudongo section and the other is around the Uwinka area of the rainforest. Chimp tracking in Nyungwe starts at three reception centers namely Uninka, Gisakura, and Kitabi with briefing in the morning.
During Chimp trekking, only 8 people are allowed to track a community and you can enjoy seeing them breastfeeding, mating, and caring for each other. You only be with apes for one full hour and this time is of a lifetime as you can also see other primates like Red Tailed Monkeys.
On your Chimp tracking, you require a good level of fitness since the trails are often steep and at times slippery. However, you require a Chimp tracking permit to track the Chimps and you can get it from the Rwanda Development Board.
Birdwatching in Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe Park is a birder’s paradise having amazing bird species with endemic bird species. Bird watching in Nyungwe is best done in the morning with trained guides who help you explain about the different bird species.
The birds are mostly found in the different vegetation zones though mostly in trees, shrubs, ferns, or on the edges of the rain forest next to the tea plantations. The frequently sighted species during bird watching are the Rwenzori Nightjar, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Kivu Ground Thrush, the Handsome Francolin, Dwarf Honeyguide, White Tailed Crested Flycatcher, etc.
Colobus Monkey Tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
13 primate species are found in Nyungwe Forest including the Golden Monkeys though there are big numbers of Colobus monkeys in addition to other many primates.
You can track the playful colobus monkeys with excitement and with views of other monkey species.
Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk
The Nyungwe forest canopy walk is the first tree-top forest canopy walk in the whole of East Africa. You can enjoy the canopy walk after Chimpanzee tracking or trekking mountain Gorillas for an amazing experience.
During the canopy walk, you can enjoy amazing sightings of many bird species, primate species, and of the Virunga Mountains. The suspended canopy walkway is about 90m long raised 50 meters above the ground and it shouldn’t be missed by nature lovers.
Best Hikes & Trails
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a paradise for nature lovers with 13 hiking trails covering over 130 kilometers of the rain forest floor though don’t forget to carry good hiking boots. The most common is the canopy walkway or the suspension bridge.
Below are some of the trails you can use on your hikes;
1.The Igishigishigi trail: is about 1.3 miles. The Igishigishigi trail is not so challenging though it is one of the park’s most popular for its impressive wildflower scenery.
2. Karamba trail is under 4 miles fringed with fern trees and it is a top choice for those who want to enjoy the birdlife.
Karamba trail is also good for historians as it has the site of an old gold mining site and an army camp which is an isolated patch.
3. Umuyove Trail is a 3.5-mile trail renowned for its tall trees and a spectacular waterfall. It is also a jumping-off point for several of the park’s most rewarding Chimpanzee tracking routes.
4. Imbaraga trail is about 6 miles in the heart of Nyungwe. Along the Imbaraga trail, you have the opportunity to stop for a swim at one of the four spectacular waterfalls.
5. Bigugu trail is almost 8 miles and visitors can take hikes to the highest peak in the park to get views of Lake Kivu and the Virungas of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
6. Umugote trail is great for primate viewing and bird watching, also, you can see several ridges, flowers, and Butterflies along the Umugote trail.
7. Ngabwe trail takes you to the lovely picnic and camping site though don’t forget to carry your camping equipment.
8. Izumo trail will get you to experience the amazing tea plantations. Along the Isumo trail, you also get sightings of the biggest waterfall in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
9. Irebero trailoffers amazing views of Lake Kivu.
10. Umuyove Trail is also known as the Mahogany Trail. When on the Umuyoye trail, you get sightings of the tallest trees in the montane forest.
11. Congo Nile trail is about 227km trek and the main attractions on this trail are the varied landscapes and communities. The Congo Nile trail also offers views of the Virungas and many bird species.
Gisakura Tea Plantation Tour
This amazing tour takes you to visit the Gisakura tea plantation that is just on the verge of Nyungwe Forest National Park. The adventure to the Gisakura tea estate can be pooled with other activities meaning that it be done either in the morning or evening.
Best Time to Visit Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is situated in the southern part of Rwanda and it can explored at any time of the year though the best time remains the dry season. Keep in mind that this is also the peak season and the month are January, February, June, July, August, September, and December.
It is the best time for Chimpanzee tracking in the park and trekking Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. However, you can also enjoy Chimp trekking in the rainy season as most hotels are at discounted rates.
Also, in the rainy season, primates are near and you don’t require long treks on your tour though you need good hiking boots and walking sticks if needed.
Migratory birds are in the area from November to April making it a good time for bird watchers on the canopy walkway or suspension bridge.
Accommodation in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe offersluxury, midrange, and budget lodges. The facilities have spacious rooms with comfortable beds, charging sockets, showers, Wi-Fi in public areas, amazing seats, and some have swimming pools for relaxation after Chimpanzee tracking.
You decide to opt for camping though you need to come with your camping equipment.
Some of the accommodation facilities include; Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Gisakura Guest House, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel, One & Only Nyungwe House, and several camping sites.
How to get to Nyungwe Forest National Park?
Tourists can reach Nyungwe Forest National Park either by road transport or air transport.
Road Transport; you can either use the company vehicle or hire a private car that can get you from the Kigali International Airport and take you to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
You can also use public means and get a bus from Nabugogo bus station and get to the Uwinka reception center where you can hire a private car to the park headquarters which is about an hour’s drive.
Air transport; you can book a domestic flight or scheduled flight from Kigali International Airport to Kamembe Airport where you can connect to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
What is Unique about Nyungwe National Park?
Nyungwe is one of the oldest rainforests on the African continent rich in biodiversity and spectacularly beautiful. This montane rainforest offers enticing Chimpanzee tracking and an amazing canopy walk.
How long is Canopy Walk in Nyungwe National Park?
The suspended canopy walkway in Nyungwe Forest National Park lasts a maximum of 2 hours from the starting point.
What is the Main Attraction in Nyungwe National Park?
Chimpanzees are the main attraction in this park as tourists can enjoy Chimpanzee trekking to meet them in their natural habitat.
What Animals are found in Nyungwe National Park?
You can find animal species ranging from primate species to herbivores, and a few carnivores.
While in this area, you can see Chimpanzees, Silver Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Owl Faced Monkeys, Ruwenzori Colobus Monkeys, Red Tailed Monkey, Vervet Monkey, Elephants, Forest Hog, Serval cats, Side stripped jackal, Bush buffalo, etc.
What is the Importance of Nyungwe Forest?
The park is a place of spectacular natural beauty and has the potential to be a tourist destination of global significance. It also feeds two of the world's largest rivers, the Congo and the Nile, and provides 70% of Rwanda's freshwater.
It hosts a variety of plant species, primates, mammals, and species of birds and you can see all these on a nature walk.
What is the Largest Forest in Rwanda?
Nyungwe Forest is the largest forest in Rwanda covering an area of 971 km2 and it is one of the best tourist facilities in the country.
How to Visit Nyungwe National Park?
You can visit Nyungwe either by road or by air transport. By road, you can use the services of a tour operator who provides you with a vehicle and a guide. From Kigali International Airport, is only a 3 to 4 hour’s drive.
For air, Akagera Aviation offers helicopter flights to Nyungwe.
What Does Nyungwe Mean?
Nyungwe is a Bantu language and it is related to plants, especially with Acacia polyacantha in various botanical sources.
Which Is Better Nyungwe Or Kibale?
Both Nyungwe and Kibale are amazing destinations and offer an amazing Chimpanzee trekking experience. However, Kibale offers the best Chimpanzee tracking than Nyungwe as it has more habituated Chimpanzee communities.
Nyungwe offers a canopy walk with aerial views of the wildlife and bird species.
Where Is Nyungwe Found?
Nyungwe is located in south western Rwanda on the border with Burundi where it is contiguous with Kibira National Park to the south and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.
It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east.
In conclusion, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a must-visit tourist destination on your Rwanda safari and it offers amazing activities like Chimpanzee trekking, canopy walking trip, nature walk, and many others hence giving you exciting and amazing experiences.
A visit to Nyungwe can be combined with a tour to Volcanoes National Park and Akagera for an amazing tour experience!