Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe forest national park is yet another adventurous national park in Rwanda that was gazette in 2004 with an aim of protecting the 13 species of primates with the chimpanzee being the major primate trekked in Nyungwe forest. Nyungwe forest is always compared to Kibale forest national park situated in western part of Uganda which also harbors 13 species of primates. Nyungwe forest is located in the extreme end of southwestern region in Rwanda that is covered mainly with the montane forest, tropical rain forest and the mountain ranges of Rwenzori. Nyungwe forest occupies a land scape equivalent to 1,020km2 and the biggest part of the park is mainly covered by the Nyungwe forest which is a home to endangered chimpanzees and other primates. Nyungwe forest receives several tourists especially primate lovers all year round to mainly engage in chimpanzee trekking and also have a look at other primates with in the forest. Nyungwe forest is also known as the best forest where canopy walk is conducted at a tree height elevation without forgetting different hiking trails that lead to several attractions indie the forest such as rivers, caves, lakes among others.
Tourist activities in Nyungwe forest
Below are the major tourist activities frequently enjoyed while on a Rwanda safari to Nyungwe forest and they include; Chimpanzee trekking, Canopy walk, birding and other walking/hiking safaris and explained below;
Chimpanzee trekking safari in Nyungwe forest national park: Chimpanzee trekking is the number one activity done in Cyamudongo forest with in Nyungwe forest where two habituated families of chimpanzees are found. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park starts in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters and then trekkers jinn the armed rangers and the tour guides to search for the habituated chimpanzee family with in Nyungwe forest. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest is considered half day activity since it takes about 1-4 hours to allocated the chimpanzees and then one hour of viewing the chimpanzees in close contact taking photographs and observing different behaviors of chimpanzees as they feed , breast feed, copulate, play and groom among others. During the chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park, there is a whole lot of other things to see including other primate species such as Olive baboons, Grey cheeked Mangabey monkeys, Silver monkeys, Vervet monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, bush babies, grey cheeked Mangabey, Black and white Colobus monkeys. During chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest, trekkers are able to encounter with some mammals such as Forest Elephants, buffaloes and other mammals will be encountered in the forest while searching for habituated chimpanzees. Also planet of bird species will be seen in the forest.
Walking and hiking safaris in Nyungwe forest national park: The park has several hiking /walking trails that are enjoyed by tourists while on a Rwanda safari to Nyungwe forest. These various trails lead to different destinations while encountering and sighting several attractions along the way. The walking trail enjoyed by several tourists is the canopy walk. Canopy walk in Nyungwe forest is the second activity enjoyed and in most cases the two activities are done on the same day starting with chimpanzee trekking in the morning and canopy walk in the evening. Canopy walk in Nyungwe forest national park lasts about 2-3 hours and enables tourists to view different primate species, mammals, birds and butterflies with the forest without forgetting a clear view of the entire Nyungwe forest national park. The canopy walk is also known as the “Igishigishi trail”.
Other hiking/walking safaris in Nyungwe forest: Apart from the canopy walk, Nyungwe forest is blessed with other walking /hiking trails taking tourists to several attractions and these include the Imbaraga hiking trail, Congo Nile divide hiking trail ,Umugote hiking trail, , Irebero hiking trail, Uwinka hiking trail, Kamiranzovu hiking trail, Bigugu hiking trail and many more.
Birding in Nyungwe forest national park: birding is yet another adventurous activity done in Nyungwe forest national park. A park thrills with over 300 species of birds thrilling with in cyamudongo forest, Nyungwe forest, along the water bodies, around tea plantations and many other corners of Nyungwe forest national park. The common bird species to look out for include; Red- Throated Alethe, Ruwenzori Turacos, wood peckers, Cuckoo, fly catchers, Kivu Ground Thrush among others. Remember to pack a pair of binoculars in order to capture the best shots of different bird species in the park.
Where to stay while on a Rwanda safari to Nyungwe forest national park
Accommodation facilities in Nyungwe forest: Here are some of the lodges and hotels to reside in while on a Rwanda safari in Nyungwe forest lodge, Gisakura guest house, Nyungwe top view hotel, wilderness campsites, One and only Nyungwe, Nziza eco-village lodge, Kivu lodge and many more ranging from budget , midrange, luxury and super luxury. Some of the accommodations are situated with in Nyungwe forest while others are situated outside the park but within close vicinity and with good amenities to suit the tourists needs.
Getting to Nyungwe forest / how to get to the park
There are two ways of getting to Nyungwe forest that is either by Road or by air.
By road, a road drive from Kigali international airport to Nyungwe forest takes about 6-7 hours but this drive is so rewarding with several attractions including the rolling hills of Rwanda, plantations, and the beautiful Lake Kivu. If time allows, tourists enjoy a stopover along the way to explore some of the genocide memorial sites to learn more about the history of Rwanda genocide that lasted for 100 days of bloody murder.
By air, tourists also may opt for a flight from Kigali international airport to Kamembe and then connect to the Nyungwe forest which requires about 60 minutes of road drive from Kamembe.