Nyungwe forest is found in the southwest of Rwanda, it is dominated with a flourished tropical forest tree species which make are high and compacted canopy. Nyungwe is the biggest natural mountain rainforest in Africa with a space of over 1020 sq.km. Nyungwe forest national park, is also the most protected and conserved natural forest in Africa. Nyungwe forest has proved to be the most important bio diverse area in Africa as well; nyungwe forest national park is a home for about 310 bird species, 75 mammals and 13 primates, including the chimpanzees and the unique golden monkeys.
Nyungwe forest national park was gazetted in 2004 after the government of Rwanda recognized the need to boost the energy of tourism and also improve the tourists’ experience beyond just mountain gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park; the decision followed the realization of the spectacular endowment of the forest in the south corner of the country. Nyungwe forest national park has a visitor center at uwinka where you can find all the information about the national park, like the trails and the different attractions there in, before you embark onto hiking through this vast jungle of Africa.
Nyungwe national park is a 4 to 5 hour drive from Kigali; the capital city of Rwanda. The journey to the forest wonders around the hills with beautiful scenery of the flowering eucalyptus trees, the terraces on the hillsides, distant houses in the mountains, and magnificent valleys on the other side of the road. The thrilling experience, therefore, starts even before the actual surprises held in the pockets of the forest. Nyungwe is the best destination for tourists according to Rwandan safaris statistics.
Climate of Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe is the best and largest afro Montane rain forest in central Africa. It sits on the altitude of 1600m to 2950m above sea level; quite a high altitude. The forest receives over 2000 mm of rainfall around the year annually, possibly this much rainfall is truly attributed to the thick forest and the high altitude of the area. Nyungwe forest is the big water source for Rwanda. It holds almost 2/3 of the water in Rwanda. Nyungwe forest also shares its water with Congo River, and a portion of its water flows into the Nile through River Akagera. To note, the climate of nyungwe national park should be an alert for you and a reminder for your dress code before embarking on activities in the park, it is good to where thicker clothes because the forest is coldest during the morning hours.
Activities in Nyungwe national park
The nyungwe forest hike is the best activity according to visitor views about nyungwe forest national park, to the extent that the forest is called the hikers paradise with several hiking trails; about 13 hiking trails inside the forest long enough, about 130 km, to bring on the thrill. Hiking in nyungwe forest national park, can be a day’s activity but also can take longer up to a whole week. This is possible because, nyungwe forest is a home of over 1000 species of creations from a diverse of habitats.
The hiking starts from the visitor center at uwinka and it always lasts from 1 to 8 hours; the hike duration is based on the visitors interest and mainly dependent on the physical fitness of an individual. The hiking in nyungwe can be truly personalized according to what the visitor desire, one day or several days hike, longer or short hikes among others. Hiking in nyungwe forest is the perfect time for you to discover the best rain forest, across the long raised metallic bridge suspended almost 50m high above the forest offers the best view of the forest below you.
Chimpanzee trekking and monkey trekking is another interesting activity done in nyungwe forest national park. Nyungwe forest national park is the perfect location where you can do your chimpanzee trekking and compare it to the epic gorilla trekking in the nearby volcanoes national park; it is located in just a stone throw away from nyungwe forest national park. Chimpanzee trekking in nyungwe national park is best done in the morning when the chimpanzees are just going down from their tree nests. Chimpanzee trekking is done by a maximum of eight people in a group; this is aiming at maintaining the ecology of the forests.
Nyungwe forest national park has a lot of chimpanzees and many of them are habituated to give you a spectacular experience, as the chimpanzees are familiar to human encounters. You can also have quite other sightings of the golden monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys, rwenzori colobus monkeys spotted in groups of about 300, l’hoest’s monkey, the owl faced monkeys, mona monkeys and blue monkeys among others. It is not a bad idea if you carry some lunch for yourself, really long trouser, and rubber boots for hiking or any other hiking shoes, a rain jacket for any weather change, and probably a hat if you wish to wear one.
Birding is one of the activities that visitors love about nyungwe forest national park. Nyungwe forest is a home for over 300 species of birds and almost 27 of them are endemic to this national park only, others are albertine area birds. The birders to nyungwe enjoy the sightings of the grouers wobbler which is an albertine rift endemic bird species; mainly found in mountain swamps like kamiranzozu in nyungwe forest national park. Other birds include; the giant hornbill, great blue turacos, weaver birds, herons, sun birds among other common birds of East Africa. To supplement the bird sights, you get a chance to watch a wide range of butterflies in the forest and other insects, snakes and other forest creatures.
There is a range of accommodation facilities in nyungwe varying from luxury and lavish lodges like one & only lodges to budget accommodation like nyungwe top view hill hotel which is a budget facility with standard services. It stands on a hill with a view of the forest. The accommodation in nyungwe forest will give you an opportunity to live in the real African jungle and also make your experience spectacular.