Nyungwe National Park Rwanda
Situated south west of Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is one of the oldest rainforests in Africa rich in biodiversity. The park covers about 970 square kilometers of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps and bogs.
The parks’ rainforest is spectacularly beautiful teaming with a wide diversity of wildlife, bird species and 13 primate species including a small population of chimpanzees. The chimpanzees in the forest have been habituated and therefore making chimpanzee trekking a top activity for the park. Being a tropical rainforest, there is a lot of flora in the forest including at least 1,068 plant species and 140 orchids.
About 75 mammals are known to live in Nyungwe National Park including the cerval cat, mongoose, leopard, Ruwenzori colobus monkey and Congo clawless otter. However, sightings of mammals in the forest are not very common. Primate species in Nyungwe National Park include the common chimpanzee, Ruwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, Silver monkey, Golden monkey, Hamlyn’s monkey, Red-tailed monkey, Dent’s mona monkey, vervet monkey, Olive baboon and Grey-cheeked mangabey.
Nyungwe Park has three reception centers; one near the entrance at Kitabi, the other at he Uwinka reception center in the middle of the park and third one is Gisakura reception centre. Activities start from any one of the reception centers. Around the park are different accommodation facilities that tourists can stay in and spend the night, these include Luxury, mid-range and budget. The park also has some cheap camping services with a tented camping ground at Uwinka which is suitable for budget travelers.
Activities in Nyungwe National Park Rwanda
There are about 130km of constructed trails in Nyungwe National Park which allow tourists to explore the bio diverse rainforest. Exploring the rainforest while enjoying the freshness of the air can be done in different ways by undertaking any of these activities in Nyungwe National Park.
There are only two (2) habituated chimpanzee groups with the small one having 30 chimps tracked in the cyamudongo forest area of the park. The bigger group has about 60 chimpanzees that are already habituated. The forest has fig trees with fruits that make the forest a good host to chimpanzees. Time spent on a chimpanzee trek depends on where the chimpanzees are spending their day. However, usually, the round trip trek may last 2 to 4 hours covering about 4.2km.
To go for chimpanzee trekking in Cyamudongo forest, one requires a 4×4 vehicle to drive through a rough and dirt track. Approximately 11 km along the shagasha tea estate and village, a side track is taken to the park. On arrival for the trek, you meet with park rangers and guides for briefing and a guide through the forest for the trek. The park guides communicate with the rangers to make sure trekkers are taken to where the chimps are making it a must see activity.
Some of the things to carry for a chimpanzee trekking safari in Nyungwe include binoculars, rain gear, hiking boots, water, snacks and a hiking stick. The hiking stick is provided at the reception to help you hike through the trails easily. Best time of the year for chimpanzee trekking is in the months of June, July and August. Chimpanzee trekking starts early in the morning and therefore it means waking up early as much as 4:30 am. A maximum of 1 hour is what a group of tourists can spend in the presence of the chimps.
Opened in 2010, Nyungwe canopy walk is the perfect way for tourists to walk on a suspended bridge and admire the beauty of the forest from above. This is the best canopy walk experience ever in Africa. The suspended bridge offers very spectacular aerial views of the forests’ canopy.
The canopy suspension is a 160m walkway 70m high above the ground along the Igishigishigi trail or the Imbaraga or Umuyove trails. To reach the canopy walk is about 2 hours from the Uwinka visitor centre starting point. All the guided walks start from the central Uwinka reception Centre, the western Gisakura entrance and the eastern kitabi centre. The forest trails are slippery as the ground is wet and so moist making the hike challenging. The bridge is adjourned between huge trees with several bird species and wildlife all offering such fantastic views and a great experience. The minimum age for a canopy walk experience in Nyungwe National Park is 6 years and children must be escorted by parents. To have a canopy walk experience, you can book early or pay at the reception centre. Canopy walk starts daily in the morning at 8:00 am and 10:00 am and in the afternoon at 3:00 pm.
Things to carry for a canopy walk include drinking water, hiking boots, rain jacket, a camera, backpack with gadgets, camera batteries.
With 322 bird species including the Albertine Rift Endemics, bird watching in Nyungwe should be top of the list for anyone planning to go birding in Rwanda. Nyungwe National Park is also one of the seven important birding areas in Rwanda known as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.
Some of the bird species include the Red-collared Babbler, Red-collared mountain warbler, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Kivu ground Thrush, short-tailed Warbler, and Mountain Masked Apalis, Regal Sunbird, Grauer’s swamp warbler, short-tailed warbler, Grey-crested Kakamega and much more.
Birding Trails in the park include the Bigugu trail, Karamba trail, Kamiranzovu trail and Gisakura trail. Be sure to see some lifers during a bird-watching trip in the park, especially the Albertine Rift Endemics. To have a bird watching trip in Nyungwe a person is required to have purchased a birding permit prior the trip.
Choose any kind of activity at Nyungwe National Park and have the greatest kind of an ancient African tropical rainforest.
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