Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe Forest National park

The top things to see and do in Nyungwe forest in Rwanda which is also a land
of thousand hills is also home too many natural wonders and the forest is one of them. This forest also covers an area of over 1000 sq kilometers and it’s even larger than it extends into Burundi where Kibira National park.

This Nyungwe national park is also the largest tropical afro Montane rainforest east or central Africa and a rainforest it is and receives over 2000mm of rain each year and its Rwanda’s largest water catchment area and its home to 2/3rds of all Rwanda’s water.  The forest also feeds both the river Congo and the River Nile with water.

When you arrive in Nyungwe forest, you come here on the winding roads through the huge tea fields and then there is Nyungwe forest national park, like developing its massiveness like a national Geographic Video and only better since you are here in that large forest with its endless Kamiranzovu swamp, the trails through out, the forest canopy walk, which is the only one in East Africa, the chances for birding, the primate tracking and viewing and taking in the flowers like the orchids that are found here and the many butterflies that they attract.

Nyungwe is also not a compact park but large forest and the things to do and see here also take some planning as that your time on the safari is not wasted with drive times. You can also find over 300 different bird species, many butterflies, orchids, 75 mammal speciesincluding the 13 primates, and there have also been the sightings of the golden monkeys. Also the park is with its uncountable of the natural wonders and is not missed if you are coming to Rwanda and it will be one of those items to mountain gorilla tracking in Rwanda.

Primate safaris in Nyungwe Forest

Nyungwe is an ideal destination for lovers of primates, with 13 different species living here, and most visitors will go for at least one tracking experience, the most popular of which is chimpanzee trekking. Starting very early in the morning, chimps are tracked in groups of eight and as with the mountain gorillas, you will have just one hour in their company once they’ve been located. Sightings aren’t as reliable or as clear as gorillas however, since they often remain in dense forest, but their engaging playfulness and human-like characteristics make the long day worthwhile.

Trekking in search of grey-cheeked mangabey and Rwenzori colobus monkeys is also on offer in Nyungwe Forest, the latter of which can be found here in troops of several hundred. And there’s no need to trek far to see l’Hoest’s monkeys – you will often see them ambling along the roadside as you drive past.

Forest hiking trails in Nyungwe

Over 130 kilometres of hiking routes have been created in Nyungwe Forest National Park, allowing visitors to explore its interior and its fascinating habitats. Walking in Nyungwe is excellent, with trails lasting from one to eight hours. The beautifully named Igishigishigi Trail is one of the shortest hikes yet includes East Africa’s highest canopy walk with spectacular views across Nyungwe Forest, while the 6 hour Bigugu Trail leads you to the highest mountain in the Park at 2950m.

Birdwatching in Nyungwe Forest

The birds in Nyungwe Forest National Park are spectacular. Around 310 species reside here, although as in most tropical forests, you’ll have to look hard for them. Giant hornbills, great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrowhawks are amongst the specials, of which 27 are endemic to this section of the Albertine Rift Valley.

Accommodation for Nyungwe National Park is quite limited but fortunately spans across a range of budgets. One of Rwanda’s best lodges, Nyungwe Forest Lodge has luxury facilities including an infinity pool and gym, with good views overlooking the forest canopy from a ridge to one side and a tea-plantation on the other. At the other end of the scale, the low-budget ORTPN Resthouse (also known as Gisakura Guesthouse), is also situated on the edge of the forest, with simple rooms but a friendly and helpful team.

***STOP PRESS*** Nyungwe Forest Lodge is due to close from February 2017 onwards while it is refurbished. There is currently no time line of when they plan to reopen. Nyungwe Forest Lodge lies on the edge of Rwanda’s Nyungwe Rainforest National Park in the South-West of the country. It boasts an impressive view overlooking the forest canopy from a ridge on one side and a tea-plantation on the other. Although the country and its wildlife are still recovering from the civil war and genocide which ravaged them both in the mid 1990’s, today there still exists an impressive array of 13 different species of primate living in Nyungwe Rainforest National Park including chimpanzees.The facilities at Nyungwe Forest Lodge are without doubt some of the best in Rwanda. The rooms are well designed and fitted out with all the mod-cons you may find in a hotel in a large city and despite its size Nyungwe manages to maintain a ‘lodge feel’. The guided activities offered are varied and the mix of unique flora and fauna the National Park has to offer makes for some fantastic experiences. The contrast between the rainforest on one side and a tea plantation on the other also gives this lodge a little added something.

In the southwest of Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is an enormous tropical forest with a high canopy. Covering about 970km2, Nyungwe is the largest swathe of montane forest left in East or Central Africa, shown in the Map of Rwanda.

The accommodation at the ORTPH Resthouse is incredibly simple, and although accommodation rates are low, because you still need a private driver-guide with you for transport, the daily costs still end up being relatively high – and so we’d only recommend this with extreme caution for people who were looking for a very basic experience.

Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel opened in February 2011 and easily has the most beautiful views in the Nyungwe Forest area. Located five minutes’ drive off a main road, up a very rough and steep dirt track, it is set on top of a hill with views across numerous tea plantations, and close to the headquarters of Nyungwe National Park.

At first glance, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel looks quite smart, but on closer inspection it is a little scruffy. The furniture may be modern but it’s a mish-mash of design, and is quite cheaply made. Yet regardless of the hotel’s imperfections we thought the location was great and it is certainly comfortable enough, offering good value. Indeed, the slight scruffiness and the odd mix of styles is rather endearing. In addition, the staff try really hard and we’d expect the friendly atmosphere and welcoming service.