Nyungwe National Park
About Nyungwe Chimpanzee Park
Nyungwe rainforest is placed in the southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best preserved rainforest in the mountains throughout Central Africa. 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. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of the Nile sources. Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 970 km² of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. The nearest town is Cyangugu, 54 km to the west. Mount Bigugu is located within the park borders.
An extensive network of well-maintained walking trails leads through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points. A comfortably rustic rest house and perfectly situated campsite lie alongside the main road, and the reserve can readily be visited as a day trip from the towns of Butare and Cyangugu. Nyungwe does, however, deserve more time: anybody who wants to track chimps and see several varieties of smaller primate will need two days there – and dedicated birdwatchers might never want to leave.
Nyungwe is most alluring for its primates: 13 species in all, including humankind’s closest living relative the chimpanzee, as well as the handsome L’Hoest’s monkey and hundred-strong troops of the delightfully acrobatic Angola Columbus. The most important ornithological site in Rwanda, Nyungwe harbours almost 300 bird species of which two dozen are restricted to a handful of montane forests on the Albertine Rift. The avian highlight of Nyungwe is the great blue Turacco – an outlandish blue, red and green bird which streams from tree to tree like a procession of streamlined psychedelic turkeys.
Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, making it a priority for conservation in Africa. The forest is situated in a region where several large-scale bio-geographical zones meet and the variety of terrestrial biomes provide a great span of microhabitats for many different species of plants and animals.
The park contains 13 different primate species (25% of Africa's total), 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. Many of these animals are restricted-range species that are only found in the Albertine Rift Montane forests eco-region in Africa. In fact, the number of endemic species found here is greater than in any other forest in the Albertine Rift Mountains that has been surveyed. The forest, which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes – Blumenbach, 1775) and Angola Columbus (Columbus angiogenesis – Sclater 1860), the latter now extinct in Angola for the intense hunt for which they were subjected.
There are several activities that provide life time informative experience to clients which include: Chimpanzee trekking, bird watching, canopy walking and walking trails to different areas like the Uwinka and colored trail, Gisakura tea estate, Kamiranzovu and Bigugu trails.
How to get there
Nyungwe Forest National Park is located on the southern part of Lake Kivu and it also borders Burundi. The park is located 225 Kms away from Kigali via Butare town.
The park has up market and medium range accommodation which include the Nyungwe forest lodge, Gisakura guest house and Uwinka rest house respectively.