Nyungwe national Park
The Nyungwe Forest is located in southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, to the south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The Nyungwe rain forest is probably the best preserved montane rain forest in 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 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.
Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 970 km2 of rain forest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. The nearest town is Cyangugu, 54 km to the west. Mount Bigugu is located within the park borders.
The Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, the park contains 13 primate species, 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. The forest which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees and Angola colobus, Ruwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, Silver monkey, Golden monkey, Hamlyn’s monkey, Red-tailed monkey, Dent’s mona monkey, Vervet monkey, Olive baboon, Grey-cheeked mangabey
Activities in Nyungwe forest national park
Chimpanzee trekking is the most tourism activity done in the Nyungwe forest national park. The national park is a home to large population of chimpanzees, the closet relatives to human beings sharing approximately 98% of human DNA. The chimpanzees live in different families each family headed by one dominant who leads the group. They demonstrate different roles in a family with the females nursing and taking care of the young ones, the males protecting the family and the young ones playing and feeding. All this is so interesting that no traveler to Rwanda should miss out.
All travelers must have valid trekking permit as a pass to see and interact with these gentle giants for an hour. Also, travelers are reminded to keep a distance of seven meters away from the chimpanzees to avoid the spread of human wildlife diseases such as cough ad flue since chimpanzees are closer relatives to human beings hence susceptible to human diseases.
Monkey trekking is another interesting and highly participated in activity and the national park is a home to the two threatened species of monkeys which are the owl faced monkey and the golden monkey. The most celebrated of Nyungwe’s primates is the Ruwenzori Colobus which is highly arboreal and acrobatic leaf-eater, easily distinguished from any other primate found in Nyungwe by its contrasting black over all color and snow-white whiskers, shoulders and tail tip. The colobus monkeys in Nyungwe forest national park typically move in troops of several hundred animals.
Nyugwe forest national park has over 270 bird species and is a best birding spot in Rwanda. Out of the total bird population in Nyungwe forest, 121 are forest birds while 27 are endemic to the Albertine rift valley. The most spotted birds in Nyungwe forest national park include Rockefellers sunbird, Chapin’s flycatcher, Great blue Turaco, red collared mountain babbler, Rera grauer’s rush warbler, Rwenzori Turaco, white tailed flycatcher, Rwenzori batis, barred long tailed cuckoo, Rwenzori nigh jar, Rwenzori hill babler, yellow eyed black flycatcher, Congo bay owlet, mountain sooty boubu, and the Neumann’s warbler among others. Experienced guides help in spotting these birds as well as explaining the unique characters of each spotted bird in the forest.
Nature walks and Hiking
To explore and enjoy the beauty of Nyungwe forest is by taking a hike through the forest on an extensive network of well-maintained walking trails leads you through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points and the park has over 13 hiking trails, which are approximately 130 kilometers, which lead travelers into the interior of the forest. The hiking trails include Igishigishigi trail, Bigugu trail, Ngabwe trail, Isumo waterfall trail, Kamiranzovu marsh trail, Karamba birding trail, Source of the Nile trail, Irebero trail, Muzimu trail, Imbaraga trail, Congo Nile trail, Umoyove trail, and Rukuzi trail among others. Some trails are long while others short hence providing a chance to all kinds of travelers to enjoy any f the hikes depending on one’s physical fitness and the ability to hike. Depending on which trail a travel follows, a forest walk in Nyungwe forest national park can as short as three hours to as long as 3 days. Hiking through the forest help travelers to enjoy a peaceful calm environment, while listening to the sweet sounds of birds singing up in the trees which melodies keep running in the minds of travelers.
Nyungwe forest national park is believed to have the biggest canopy walk in East Africa which is 50 meters above the ground level and 200 meters long. The canopy is a steep and deep valley across a massive forest. The canopy walk has there towers and is a hanging platform which provides travelers with a clear view of different animal species in an eye to eye contact. All animals and bird species which live in the upper scale of the tropical rainforest are accessed by the travelers which are not a case in other national parks that have no canopy walks. Every traveler to Rwanda should not miss out the canopy walk because it will reward you with a thrilling experience which last for a lifetime.