What to see and do…..
Nyungwe national park is a perfect holiday spot for nature lovers and adventurers. You cannot possibly run out of things to do when you visit this park. Located in south western Rwanda, just a 4-5 hour drive from Kigali the Rwanda capital, this park is quite simply the perfect tourist destination.
Nyungwe Forest National park is blessed with 13 primates, and these are the main wildlife attractions. You will see chimpanzees, Angola colobus and several other monkey species. Other wildlife includes, golden cats, and duikers.
Nyungwe has a large population of chimpanzees. And many who visit the park often go on a chimpanzee tracking adventure. There is no one season for chimpanzee tracking. It can be done all year round.
The chimpanzees are not habituated like the gorillas so there is no guarantee of a sighting at particular places. But more often than not you will find the chimpanzees because they are quite common in the forest. The chimps are not as settled and orderly as the habituated gorillas are, which makes for an exciting tracking experience. With well trained and experienced guides, you will of course find the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee permits are issued by the Rwanda Development Board, you can contact them, or have your tour operator contact them for you at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Monkey tracking might not be talked about as much as gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking usually are, but it is a fun and exciting activity as well. In Nyungwe forest there is quite the variety of monkey species. Including the rare and elusive golden monkey.
Monkey tracking trails in the park include:
-The Waterfall Trail: this trail runs from Gisakura guest house to the Tea Estate where the colobus monkeys live.
-The Bigugu Trail: as its name suggests, it leads up to Mt Bigugu. The trail runs up to the highest peak of the 2950m high mountain.
-The Kamiranzovu Trail: this is a complete nature walk. It leads you to explore an entirely separate eco-system full of marshes and orchids.
– The Unwika Campsite Trails: these are two trails. The Grey Trail which is 1 km long and the Red Trail which is 10 km long. They both lead to habituated group of about 400 Colobus monkeys.
Nyungwe forest national park boasts of over 285 bird species.27 of these species are endemic to the Albertine Rift valley. Lots of colourful and interesting birds to see, the most notable being the Blue turaco. Ruwenzori Nightjar Caprimulgus ruwenzorii, Kungwe Apalis Apalis argentea, Ruwenzori Apalis Apalis ruwenzorii, Stripe-breasted Tit Parus fasciiventer, Archer’s Robin-chat Cossypha archeri, Dusky Crimson Wing Cryptospiza jacksoni, Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops, Shelley’s Crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi , Handsome Francolin Francolinus nobilis and Neumann’s Warbler Hemitesia neumanni are some of the birds that you might see in the park.
The canopy walk above Nyungwe forest is the only one of its kind in Africa. Built at an impressive 50m above the forest the Nyungwe canopy walk is not for the faint hearted. If you are afraid of heights you might want to get rid of the phobia before you travel because such a splendid sight should be seen by everyone.
Hiking and Biking
One of the best ways to explore and enjoy the beauty of Nyungwe forest is by taking a hike through the forest. There are numerous trails in the forest. More than 130km of hiking trails for you to enjoy, as you walk through nature, view beautiful scenery and keep fit as and healthy as well. After all safaris are supposed to be good for your health. The Igishigishigi Trail and the bigugu trail are two of the most popular trail. One leads to the canopy walk, and the other leads to mount Bigugu.
Mount Bigugu found inside the park, and rising to a height of about 2950km above seas level is an attraction by itself as well. Here you can enjoy some mountain climbing, and beautiful views of the surrounding areas.
Community and culture
Just like most African communities, the Rwandan people in the Nyungwe have very rich and interesting culture. Discover Rwandan food, be entertained by cultural performers in song and dance, learn more about the history of the area and the country, and enjoy interaction with the locals. There are centers such as the Banda Community Village, Kitabi cultural village, and entertainment groups such as the friends of Nyungwe and the Cyamundongo cultural troupe, that bring the culture of the Rwandese people to life in different ways.