Nyungwe Forest National Park (Primates Safaris)

Nyungwe Forest National Park is occupied by the largest part of the remaining tract of montane rainforest in East Africa. There are many reasons that this Park is liked by tourists; one of them is its diverse biodiversity which consists of more than 120 butterfly species, 1050 plant species including 250 Albertine Rift Endemics and 200 orchids.

Apart from flora, Nyungwe is home to vertebrate fauna that includes 38 reptiles, 85 mammals, 310 species of birds (15% are Albertine Rift Endemics) and 32 amphibians. To add to the sentence, this Park is legendary when it comes to primate safaris in Rwanda. Over 13 species of primates inhabit its lush habitats including the Chimpanzees.

The population of chimps in Nyungwe is estimated to be about 1000 individuals. Other common primate species are L’Hoest’s monkeys, Ruwenzori colobus, Olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, Silver monkeys, Angola Colobus and red-tailed monkeys.

Its Flora.

Nyungwe’s flora is really one of its kind in East Africa. It consists of more than 200 plant species (including flowering plants, giant lobelia and orchids). The difference in the vegetation zone appears depending on altitude whereby at 2500m above sea level, the vegetation is Alpine mainly dominated by bamboo trees and shrubs. At 1900m, you can find taller tree species of Cyathea Manniana, Newtonia and Carapa. Whilst, areas at 2250m are occupied by tall trees and fern species like Symphonia and Polycscias.

Chimpanzee Tracking

Over 13 species of Primates including the Chimpanzees are normal residents in Nyungwe. This Park is the only place to go for these human-closely related species while in Rwanda. Part of the chimpanzees habituated are the ones available for the tracking excursions. The tracking is usually in a group, you must keep your voice at a low tone and move slowly while in the Jungle. These primates are very sensitive; therefore if you scare them, you are most likely to miss seeing them. The excursions start in the morning after briefing at the Park headquarters, it is advised for all tourists to come with water for drinking, and put on long-sleeved shirts, rain jackets and strong hiking shoes.

Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk

This is a breathtaking experience from the heights above sea level, it is another highlight for a trip to Nyungwe Forest National Park. This walkway suspended amid giant trees is about 200 meters long and 40 meters high. Before the walk, you first ascend and descend the valleys and rolling hills in the Jungles up to the starting point. From the starting point, you are briefed about the walk and after it starts. It is somehow scary, but rewarding with sweeping views of tree tops, rolling hills and towering volcanoes in DR Congo. You will also spot a lot of bird species while on this walk. It is not good for the faint-hearted.

Birding

Nyungwe Forest National Park is a prominent birding hotspot not to miss in Rwanda. Over 310 bird species breathe life in their habitats, 27 of which are Albertine Rift Endemic. Rare species that are hard to find anywhere else appear on the eastern side of the Albertine Rift. You can see plenty of species while on a canopy walk. Some of the species to expect are red-faced woodland warblers, yellow-eyed black flycatchers, mountain-masked apalis, francolins, sunbirds and Ruwenzori Turaco.

Hiking Expeditions

Nyungwe is perfect for guided hiking tours. It features multiple hiking trails that traverse the dense Jungles and rolling hills. These trails are highlighted below.

Kamiranzovu Trail

This trail is in the park’s largest swamp set within a caldera. It leads from the forested main road downhill to the low-lying Kamiranzoivu.

Karamba Trail. Among the trails in Nyungwe, Karamba is the easiest to go and perfect for bird-watching expeditions.

Bigugu Trail

Bigugu is liked by birders because it offers scenic sights of the red-collared mountain babbler. It takes you through magnificent views of Lake Kivu and the rolling hills of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also passes through wonderful wildflowers including the orchids, giant lobelias and red-hot pokers.

Ngabwe Trail

At the Park’s eastern boundary on the slopes of Nyabwe is this circular trail that is easily accessible to visitors staying at the KCCEM guest house. The trailhead lies about 200m on the left of the main road. It’s 3 km past the Kitabi Entrance gate.

Izumo Trail

If you are after great sceneries in Nyungwe Forest National Park, this is the best trail to follow. It starts at Gisakura tea plantations and winds through lush Jungles up to the gushing waterfall; you can swim in the turquoise waters of the fall’s pool.