Nyungwe National Park

One of the oldest rainforests in Africa, Nyungwe is rich in biodiversity and spectacularly beautiful. The mountainous region is teaming with wildlife, including a small population of chimpanzees as well as 12 other species of primate, including the L’Hoest’s monkey endemic to the Albertine Rift. With 15 trails, along with various other activities, visitors can choose to sample the delights of the forest or indulge themselves for a week or more in one of Africa’s most stunning forests.

Primate tracking tops most visitor’s list, but it’s worth lingering a little longer for those with time to relax and take in the primal atmosphere. Botanists will marvel at the 1,068 plant species and 140 orchids. The birdwatching is among the best in Africa, with 322 birds species, including Red-collared Babbler and 29 other Albertine Rift Endemic species. Butterflies are also a common sight, with at least 120 species.

There are 75 known mammals in Nyungwe, such as the serval cat, mongoose, Congo clawless otter and leopard, to name but a few. Many tend to be shy, so sightings are the luck of the draw. Memorable and photogenic moments include walking up to the Isumo waterfall or along the Canopy Walk suspension bridge. Tea plantations border the park’s edges, with a habituated troop of Ruwenzori colobus monkeys at Gisakura and forest fringe birds.

What to Do:

  • Chimpanzee Tracking – about 500 Chimpanzees are found in Nyungwe national park
  • Birdwatching – the park is the most important ornithological site in Rwanda, with 322 birds’ species, including Red-collared Babbler and 29 other Albertine Rift Endemic species.
  • Hiking – it’s possible to hike in Nyungwe national park from the day from Rusizi or Huge, however well worth spending more time, especially if you are interested in primates or birds as there are several species to see.
  • Canopy Walk – Suspended above a ravine in the lush montane rainforest of Nyungwe National Park, the canopy walkway provides an exhilarating perspective on the ancient treetops and wildlife. The 160m long and 70m high suspension bridge is accessible as part of a guided tour along the Igishigishigi trail or hiking the Imbaraga or Umuyove trails.

Getting There:

There are no domestic scheduled flights to park; however, Akagera Aviation offers charter helicopter transfers.

Best Time to Visit:

The park can best be visited during the long dry season that begins in June to September and from mid-December to mid-February (during the short dry season when the area receives less rainfall). The wet rainy season comes with heavy showers, making the forest foot trails very muddy and extremely slippery, making it hard to engage in various activities like chimp trekking, monkey tracking, and nature walks.