Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in Southeast Rwanda and is the largest block area of montane forest in East Africa. Nyungwe Forest covers approximately 1000km squared and is comprised of a complex mosaic of dense vegetation types from tall trees to open, flower filled marshes. Nyungwe Forest has a uniquely rich flora diversity with over 200 tree species and a wonderful display of flowering plants, including the magnificent giant lobelia and a host of colourful orchids. Nyungwe Forest’s fauna diversity is amazing and is one of the most endemic species-rich areas in all of Africa. 86 mammal species reside in the forest and 14 are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Nyungwe Forest National Park is very alluring for the variety of primate species living in the forest. There are 14 primate species, including chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys and the endangered golden monkey. The forest is filled with bird song from the 280 avian species present in the park, of which, 26 are Albertine species and 121 are specialise forest species. Nyungwe Forest is the most important ornithological site in Rwanda.
Chimpanzee Trekking: The majority of the chimp population in Rwanda is confined to Nyungwe Forest National Park. Trekking to see our closet relatives is an amazing experience, although these groups of chimps are wide ranging and there is a 30- 40% chance of sighting these primates. Black and White Colobus Trekking: There are large troops of black and white colobus monkeys residing in Nyungwe Forest. These primates often travel in groups of over 300 individuals. It is possible to purchase a permit to trek these animals. Walking through a montane rainforest and being surrounded on all levels by these active and cheeky monkeys is not to be missed.
Canopy Walkway: A suspended walkway has recently been built in the lush canopy of Nyungwe Forest. This activity lasts 1-2 hours depending on how often you stop enroute. You walk to one end of the walkway and return the same way. It is important to note that the walkway does sway and if you have a fear of heights, you might not find this activity enjoyable.
Forest Walks: Extensive networks if well-maintained walking trails leads you through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points. There are a variety of trails:
– Coloured trails – these are left over from the late 1980’s when an early attempt to develop tourism in Nyungwe was made. There are seven trails through the forest each marked by a particular colour. The trails range in length from the 1km Grey trail to the 10km Red trail. All the trails are well-maintained and offer the chance to see a diversity of primate and bird species.
– Waterfall Trail – this trail takes between 3-6 hours depending on how often you stop enroute. It is a very pleasant walk through the tree-fern covered ravines, across several bubbling streams until you reach a pretty waterfall. Monkeys are often seen along the way and the steep slopes allow for good views into the canopy, making this trail a favourite among the birders as it is very rewarding for true forest interior birds, with a good chance of spotting Albertine rift endemics, such as the Rwenzori turaco.
– Kamiranzoru trail – this trail is 4km and takes about 3 hours. This trail is different from the other forest walks because it takes you through the low laying marshy areas which are rich in orchids and localised swamp associated bird species.
– Bigugu trail – this is the toughest trail and you need to be relatively fit as it leads you up the Bigugu peak. The Bigugu peak is 2,950m high and is the highest point in Nyungwe Forest, offering fantastic views of the landscape.