Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of Rwanda’s primate destinations hosting up to 13 primate kinds, The National park is the largest Afro-montane forest in Rwanda, its biodiversity enriched with landscapes, including swamps, marshes, bamboo, open woodland, and habitats characterized by a combination of tree and plant species, the park is known for its rugged terrain, and an amalgamation of Mosiac dense vegetation, placed at an elevation between 1600-2950m above sea level along the floor of the great Albertine rift valley, the highest point of the forest is Mountain Bigugu, in the northern park, dissected with steep hilly sides. Evident are features that date back to the old ice age period. Covering an area space of 1019 square kilometers, the dense forest used to be home to over 75 mammal species, 322 bird types however due to conservation continuous poaching the count of species reduced greatly. Large mamals like elephants were last seen in the early 2000s, however, it still counts with 240 plant species. There are over 140 species of orchids. Nyungwe forest national park is a continuation of the Kibira national park in Burundi making up a big eco zone full of uniqueness.
Nyungwe forest is a biodiverse montane forest in Africa, adjoining the Cyamudongo forest in the southern part of Rwanda, It shares a common border with 5 districts of Rwanda, in the east, it borders Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe in the southern province, in the North it borders Karongi district and in the west, it borders Nyamasheke and Rusizi. Nyungwe forest protects 20% of Africa’s primate species, endangered species such as the owl-faced monkey and the eastern chimpanzee are found here. Nyungwe is very rich in birds 27 of which are endemic to the forest.
The main activity of the park is chimpanzee tracking, there are two habituated families in two groups the smaller one is tracked in the Cyamudongo forest and the other in Nyungwe forest national park, Chimpanzee is the closet mammals to Mankind sharing 98% of the Human DNA, they are social and communicable species. Chimpanzee tracking is done following a briefing from the park rangers, then off to look for the primates, an hour is allowed while with the habituated families, you will not only see chimpanzees but also witness other primates like the Black and white colobus monkeys. The Canopy walk is one of the great things to do while in the conservation area, the suspended bridge gives a chance to view the park and its wildlife amazingly, the 70m high above the ground walk you will be able to view birds, orchids, and several tree species of the park, The national park has their receptions where activities begin, the Gisakura reception center, Uwinka center,and the Kitabi center.
Birding in Nyungwe forest national park takes on a life that every birder would like to have, the forest has well-distributed trails for birding including the Bigugu trail, Karamba trail, Gisakura trail, Kamiranzovu trail, top birds to see include the Kivu gourndthrush, congo bay owlet, Rwenzori Turaco, red-colored mountain warbler, Rwenzori nightjar.
The park can be visited all year but best during the dry seasons between, July –September, and December to January, accommodation is few but stays are available around the park premises like the only Nyungwe lodge.