Tucked away in the middle of tea Plantations, the biggest mountain rain forest on this side of the African continent can be a bit deceptive in its vastness if you simply catch a glimpse of it from a far. Nyungwe forest is probably the most preserved forest in Africa. Some say it is the most important site for biodiversity in Rwanda. It is home to over 1000 species of wildlife after all.

The park has  amazing and breathtaking scenery and is a vantage point for picturesque views of the Virungas and the Congo. Nyungwe is nature at its very best. It is lush and beautifully green, often seen with cooling mists in the early mornings and late evening.

things to do in nyungwe forest national park

Chimpanzee Trekking

Chimpanzee trekking also starts in the morning and the activity is conducted in groups of a maximum of eight (8) people just as it is with gorilla trekking. These chimps at Nyungwe forest have been and are being habituated which means that they are used to human beings. The Nyungwe forest national park receives a very large number of tourists annually who come to meet face to face and spend time with the chimpanzees – man’s closest living relative observing them as they play. The park is also a good destination where you can add a chimpanzee trekking expedition to your gorilla trek within volcanoes national park without driving long distances.

Colobus Monkey Tracking

There are 13 primate species that are found in Nyungwe forest, including very occasional sighting of the golden monkeys that have been reported Nyungwe forest is also popular for its large numbers of colobus monkeys, in addition to other species like the grey cheeked Mangabeys and Ruwenzori colobus Monkeys. The colobus monkeys can also be seen in large troops of up to 300 monkeys.

Also as you track these playful colobus monkey groups, you will likely see some other monkeys along the trek. These might include; the L’ Hoest’s monkey, the Owl faced monkeys, Mona monkey and the blue monkeys.

Nyungwe Forest Canopy walk

This canopy walk is the first tree top forest canopy walk in the whole of East Africa and the third in all Africa. In case you are coming to Rwanda to trek the mountain gorillas, you can add on some days and include Nyungwe forest Safari on your itinerary and enjoy the canopy walk as part of your safari schedule. This canopy walk is 50 meters above the ground and this can also be dizzying heights for some people. You will see the monkeys move around in the tree tops, the birds that are flying above you and below you and a beautiful view of the huge Nyungwe forest. It’s also an amazing sight. This canopy walk is about 90m long.

Birding in Nyungwe forest

Nyungwe Forest has 300 bird species and 27 of them are endemics and are part of the species that are found in the forests of the albertine rift. For example the Grauer’s Warbler which is an albertine rift endemic hat can be found within the mountain swamps like the Kamiranzovou within Nyungwe Forest. you can also find both the Rwenzori Turaco and the large blue Turaco, in addition to different types of sun birds like the purple breasted and the blue headed sun bird commonly found in flowering trees that can be seen during the guided Nyungwe birding Tours.

Hiking in Nyungwe Forest National park

This national park is also a hiker’s paradise. There are also 13 hiking trails covering over 130 kilometers of the floor of the forest.You can spend a good week  hiking the many trails, explore the ancient rainforest and discover many habitats found in the forest and wildlife living there.

There are shorter private hikes that last from one to eight hours in length and these can be done by anyone in fairly good physical condition. Hiking in Nyungwe Forest offers you a chance to making wildlife ‘discoveries’ within a primal rain forest that will simply amazing may visitors with its fairy tale like appearance, its wildlife, birds, primates, plants, flowers, butterflies and the ancient trees.

Nyungwe Forest National Park can best be visited during the long dry-season that begins in June to September as well as from mid December to mid February (during the short dry season when the area receives less rainfall. the wet rainy season come with heavy showers which make 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.

Nyungwe National Park can best be accessed by road either through public transport or using a privately rented 4wd vehicle. There are several access gates to Nyungwe Game Park among which is the eastern park gate that is mainly used while traveling from Kigali. The western gate can be used for those making stopovers in Cyangugu as well as Kibuye towns. Because of the park’s size, you can drive across its terrain from the west to the east in just one hour. How to get there

Nyungwe forest is located in an area where several bio geographically zones merge making it a habitat to various wildlife species among which are 13 different primates including chimpanzees, silver monkeys, golden money, L’Hoest’s monkeys, several amphibian 38 types of reptiles, 85 different mammal species as well as over 273 bird species. This is the best place to enjoy a chimpanzees tracking safari in Rwanda.

The Nyungwe forest national park is surrounded by different types of accommodation facilities offering services at different costs which imply that there will certainly be a place to stay for every visitor to Nyungwe irrespective of one’s budget. Some of the recommended accommodations include the luxury One & Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel and the Nyungwe Forest Lodge.

Most visitors to Rwanda chimpanzee trek tours and other primates watching safaris in Nyungwe and usually combine with gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park as well as visits to Akagera National Park and Gishwati Mukura

3 Day Chimpanzee tracking and Canopy Walk

Day 1: Arrival to Nyungwe NP

Day 2: Chimp Trek and canopy walk

Day 3: Departure

Accommodation: mid-range

Cost: $1100


4 Day Rwanda Gorilla and Chimpanzee Trrek

Day 1: Arrival to Volcanoes NP

Day 2: Gorilla Trek

Day 3: Chimp trek Nyungwe NP

Day 4: Departure

Accommodation: Budget

Cost: $5450

The Location of Nyungwe Forest National Park is in the South Western part of Rwanda. It is bordered by the Rwanda-Burundi border in the South. Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of Congo lie on the west side of the park. It covers an area about 975 sq.km and lies at an elevation range of 1600 to 2950m above sea level. This vast un spoilt rain forest receives an annual 2000mm of rain.

History of Nyungwe National Park

Back in the early 1900’s the Nyungwe area was considered as a ‘crown land’ and was declared a game reserve in 1903 by the ruling German colonialists.  Unfortunately because of deforestation, human encroachment, wildlife poaching and fires, the size of the reserve had reduced to a mere 150 sq km by 1973. The severe poaching in the area continued greatly reduced the wildlife populations like elephants and by 1975, all the buffaloes in this reserve had diminished completely. Years later a research facility was established at Uwinka (within the park), however this facility was totally destroyed during the 1994 genocide; restoration works for this facility begun a year later.

In 2004, the Nyungwe was finally awarded the status of a national park and today it has become a very popular tourist destination and the best place to enjoy a primate watching tour in Rwanda. The declaration of Nyungwe Forest as a National Park in 2004 happened at a time when Rwanda was on the list of top 10 tourist destinations according to Lonely Planet ratings. The country was also decidedly looking to expand its tourism sector and determined to grow tourist numbers at the time. Clearly establishing Nyungwe was a good decision for Rwanda.

Today, the Nyungwe is an important water catchment for Rwanda and contains many natural resources that are quite useful to the Rwandan people. The beautiful green forest is also quite important to two of Africa’s great rivers; the Rain that falls on the east side feeds the great River Nile while that on the west feeds River Congo.