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Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe Forest. Nyungwe National Park. Chimp trekking Nyungwe. Track Chimps Nyungwe Forest.

Chimps in Nyungwe Rwanda

Nyungwe Forest is located in South Western Rwanda only 225 kms from Kigali a comfortable 4.5hrs drive on mostly smooth tarred roads. Nyungwe Forest is a gem in Rwanda's tourism strategy and is only 2nd in terms of tourism revenue streams after Volcanoes National Park where gorilla trekking expeditions take place. Nyungwe Forest is home to many primates and birds species as well as rare flora and fauna. At a whopping coverage area of 1000 square kilometres, Nyungwe Forest is inarguably Africa's largest protected montane rainforest. Nyungwe Forest is perhaps one of Africa's oldest forest and has existed for thousands of years.

Nyungwe Rainforest is habitat to a very wide variety of animals, plants and eco-systems. The forest is a greater part of Africa's great rift valley and lies in the Albertine Rift a mountaineous part of East Africa which hosts more rare birds, animals, flora and fauna than any other parts of Africa. Over 1000 endemic bird species which represents over 50% of all of Africa's bird species have been recorded in the Albertine Rift. Nyungwe Forest happens to be habitat to the highest number of these endemic species more than any other location in Africa.

Nyungwe Forest with about 280 bird species, 25 of which are endemic is considered an Important Birding Area (IBA). Nyungwe Forest is thus considered as a top birding destination on the continent.

Above all Nyungwe Forest is home to the world's largest concentration and population of chimpanzees, plus white Ruwenzori colobus monkeys, black Angola monkeys and other primates including the L’Hoest’s monkeys.

Rwanda Primates Tours

Primates Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe Forest is home to 13 primates species These include the L’Hoest’s Albertine Rift Monkeys/ Sun-tailed Gabon Monkeys / Preuss’ Cameroon Monkeys . In all probability the 3 monkey species we one species that lived in a seamless larger forest pre ice -age. Over time the forest split into fragments and each monkey adapted to its own forest.

Chimpanzees are the only ape in Nyungwe, and well over 500 chimps can be found here. When you go chimp tracking in Nyungwe the tracking guides are experienced to locate their whereabouts on any given day. They can however be quite elusive on some days and you may spend a fair amount of time in forest trekking the chimps.

L’Hoest’s Mountain Monkey; Nyungwe Forest is one of the few places in the world where this rare monkey species can still be found. One doesn't need to go far in the forest to see the L'Hoest Monkeys as they are usually by the roadside on the main road near Uwinka visitor centre.

Owl-faced Monkey. This elusive monkey species is rarely seen even in Nyungwe Forest. The rare Owl-faced monkey ranges between central Congo, Eastern DRC, Rwanda and Burundi.

Angolan Colobus Monkeys Also sometime referred to as the Colobus Ruwenzori Monkeys can also be found in Nyungwe which is the only forest in Africa where these monkeys form large groupings of over 350 in numbers.

Mona Monkeys Although often found in groups with other Monas. In Nyungwe Forest, Mona Monkeys are usually spotted mixing with colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, or the rare mangabeys.

Blue Monkey . The blue monkeys are tree-dwelling monkey species which can be seen near to Uwinka. Other monkey primate species which have been spotted in Nyungwe forest include, Red-tailed Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Eastern Needle-ClawedMonkeys, Greater Bushbaby monkeys,Dwarf Galagos and Olive Baboons.

In addition to Nyungwe Forest being host to a number of primates, a variety of hiking and walking trails have been established in the forest with trails that lead to a canopy walk, guided primate tracking walks, the source of the Nile and other ecotourism visitor attractions. Nyungwe Park also hosts a number of flora and fauna plus a wide variety of orchids, butterflies, moths and other insects.

For budget visitors to Nyungwe Forest, a number of camp sites have been set up close to Uwinka visitor centre in addition to a number of cultural tourist activities on the peripherals and boundaries of the forest.

Friends of Nyungwe Cultural Village – The Friends of Nyungwe Cultural Village is a new community-based ecotourism project that was set-up at Kitabi at the eastern entrance of Nyungwe Park. The cultural village with a King’s palace, has a campsite, a restaurant, arranges tea tours around the site, and Intore traditional dance performances.

Banda Cultural Village. The Banda community village is located about a 2.5hrs walk from the Uwinka Visitor Center or a 40 minute drive . The cultural village is tucked away on the borders of Nyungwe National Park. The location of the Banda community village is in a section of Nyungwe which is renowned for hosting the Mayebe group of chimps which is the largest habituated Chimp group . This is possible because for about 3 months a year there is abundant fig trees in the area which act as magnet for the chimps to feed on . Banda cultural village hosts a traditional home and King’s Palace plus a campsite with about 8 tents , a canteen that serves drinks and snacks.

Lake Kivu the 5th biggest lake in the world. There is currently efforts ongoing for commercial prospecting of natural gas in Lake Kivu with the potential to generate enough electricity to met Rwanda;s energy needs many many years to come! Mount Bigugu The highest point in Nyungwe forest rises to well over 2950m.

Nyungwe Forest water catchment area

Nyungwe Forest is Rwanda’s primary water catchment, hosting at least 67% of all of Rwanda's waters. Nyungwe Forest National Park receives annual rainfall of greater than 2000 mm which contributed to Nyungwe's records as the source of some of Africa’s great rivers. Rain that falls on the east side of Nyungwe feeds the Nile and on the west feeds into the great Congo River.

Activities In and around the Park

RDB have focused on Nyungwe National Park becoming a top tourism destination after Volcanoes National Park. The forest has developed hiking trails for bird watching, chimp tracking, monkey trekking orchid viewing and community ecotourism in cultural villages . Camping is also possible at a few sites in the Park. Nyungwe Forest also has the only canopy walk in East Africa. The forest hanging canopy allows visitors to Nyungwe to view different animal and birds species in Nyungwe Forest. The canopy is 50 meters above ground level and 90 meters long. Canopy walk visitors are able to view butterflies, birds and blue monkeys that dwell in the upper levels of the forest. Nyungwe forest is home to 13 endangered primate species, the world's largest ever recorded troop of black/white colobus monkeys, and nearly 300 species of birds and 154 types of orchids.

Nyungwe Hiking Trails

Nyungwe offers 13 hiking trails. Some of the trails start near the Uwinka Visitor Centre. The trails range from easy to difficult and from 1.7 kms to 10.6 kms in length.

Nyungwe Primates Tracking

13 species of primates are known to call Nyungwe Forest home, including chimpanzees, owl-faced guenons and Angolan black and white colobus monkeys.

Nyungwe Bird Watching

Nyungwe is home to at least 278 bird species, 26 of which are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. It is one of the best bird watching locations in Africa.  Some of the birds that can be seen here include the Great Blu Turaco, the Crowned Hornbill and the Blue-Headed Sunbird.

Nyungwe Orchid Viewing

Nyungwe is home to 154 species of orchids, 8 of which are endemic to Rwanda. The Park hosts 68% of the orchid flora of Rwanda.

Community based Ecotourism

Getting to Nyungwe from Kigali:

Nyungwe National Park is approximately 225KM, from Kigali, a comfortable 4.5hrs drive. The road up to Butare is good tarmac road but with sharp winding turns. It is advisable to best do the trip and drive and drive in daylight and needless to say when very sober!!
Leave Kigali and head south west of Rwanda to Muhanga. After Muhanga turn southwards to Nyanza, which leads into Butare. From Butare head west to Nyamagabe which is very near to Nyungwe National Park entrance.
There are a number of interesting historical and cultural attractions to visit enroute to Nyungwe . These include Nyanza King’s palace at Nyabisindi. The King’s palace is an insightful piece into the royals of Rwanda Kingdom,. Also located in Butare are, the National Museum, intore dancers, crafts shops, the arboretum, the Cathedral plus Gikongoro’s Genocide Memorial site.

To make an accommodation booking at Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Gisakura Guest House, to purchase chimp permits or 4x4 private car hire(self drive or with driver) and for any further enquiries, please contact us;

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