Nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park is one of Rwanda’s few conservation areas, it is most sought of when it comes to Chimpanzee tracking and the Nyungwe Canopy walk, the park is one of the oldest rainforests in Africa, having a variety of ecosystems comprising of a rich biodiversity. The beautiful park is tucked along the border of Burundi in the southwestern corner of Rwanda, the forest was established in 2004 as a way of protecting the primate species living within the conservation area, Nyungwe forest national park straddles along the great rift valley stretching from Lake Albert to Lake Tanganyika. The forest is one of high altitudinal zones standing between, 1600-2950m above sea level covering approximately 1,109 square kilometers.
The biodiversity of Nyungwe forest national park is indigenous and unique, presenting a number of endemic plant, tree, animal ,and bird species, the presence of a variety of habitats including the tropical forest, bamboo, marshy thickets, open woodlands supports wildlife, the park is home to 13 primate species examples include the chimpanzee, the black and white colobus monkey, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, owl-faced monkey, red-tailed monkeys, red colobus monkeys, dent’s mona monkey, blue Monkeys, pottos, bush baby to mention a few.
The park is Known for its large troops of the chimpanzees and a major highlight on a visit to the protected area, there are habituated families, Chimpanzee is one of the earth’s living mammals who are similar to Man, they share about 98% of the human DNA, they are social and intelligent species. It is home to over 300 troops of the black and white colobus monkey, this gives visitors a great encounter of another species and imagines seeing lots of creatures tucked in black and white! Other mammals of the forest are the giant forest squirrel, giant forest hog, bush pigs, leopards, wild cat, side stripped jackal, black-fronte duiker, African civet, Congo clawless otter. 300 birds are present in the park, making it a good spot for birding it has 16 endemic species and 27 endemics of the Albertine rift valley region.
Nyungwe forest national park’s composition presents an opportunity to do activities like Chimpanzee tracking, there are two habituated troops of Chimpanzee, the activity begins at the Uwinka visitor center, a short briefing is done in the early morning by 05:00am east African time before heading into the forest, Chimpanzee are loud creatures audible even before you actually meet them, enroute it is possible to encounter other primates of the park. There is no guarantee of seeing the primates but you will enjoy the forest and how the guide will explain to you what is in it even if you don’t get to see the chimpanzee.
Birding in Nyungwe forest national park, the park is known for its endemics and those of the great Albertine rift valley region, birds of the forest are mostly seen in the trees, shrubs, and marshy areas, except to see, the great blue turaco, the Rwenzori turaco, Ross’s turaco, Forest Buzzard, handsome francolin, crowned hornbill, crowned eagle, olive pigeons, cinnamon breasted bee-eater. Dusky crimson wing, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Albertine owlet, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird, kindly note to enjoy the African bird session, endeavor to bring Binoculars.
Nyungwe forest canopy walk is an exciting activity, a must-do on a Rwandan Safari, the long suspended 160m bridge stands, 70m high above the ground, this activity will offer you beautiful views of the forest from above, the walk is the only one of a kind in East Africa, you can easily come to encounter the forest creatures like primates. The minimum age of the canopy walk is 6 years. Other park activities include tracking the black and white colobus monkey. And guided nature walks, there are a number of well-distributed trails in the ecosystem showcasing the beauty of Rwanda.
Nyungwe forest national park can be visited all throughout the year, but the best time is during the dry season from December – February, and June- September, Nyungwe forest is situated in the southwestern part of Rwanda approximately 5 hours’ drive to the national park from Kigali by road, by air charter flights can be organized to Kabembe airport. It is important to bring insect repellants, warm clothes, hiking boots and any other personal material you might need for an African Rwanda safari experience.