Tucked away in the southwestern corner of Rwanda is this sea of green which is believed to be the biggest mountain rain forest in East or Central Africa. Straddling a vast 1,020km², Nyungwe Forest National Park is an important biodiversity site in Rwanda with legends ascribing the park longevity through the ice ages. Be that as it may, this preserved piece of earth is a shining example of conservation and boasts of more than 1000 plant species, including the old mahoganies, ebonies, and towering tree ferns, wild orchids etc. The park is also home to 13 species of primates, including the habituated chimpanzees, and the endangered owl-faced monkey and the golden monkey,75 species of other mammals, at least 275 species of birds and an astounding 120 species of butterflies. Receiving a bountiful 2000mm of rain a year, the park also serves as Rwanda’s primary water catchment and is responsible for conserving more than two-thirds of all of its waters. The primitive forest offers many opportunities to immerse yourselves in its wilderness through its 13 hiking trails spread over 130 kilometers of the forests besides biking opportunities and nature walks. Though chimpanzee tracking is a major attraction, the canopy walk suspended 50 metres above the forest on a metal bridge throws open a whole new perspective of the vastness of the forest. Nyungwe Forest is the sanctuary of nearly a quarter of Africa’s primate population and L’Hoest’s monkey, Silver monkey, red-tailed monkey, Dent’s Mona monkey, crowned monkey, Vervet monkey, and Grey-cheeked mangabey aren’t tough to sight but spotting the Giant hornbills, great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrowhawks among the 310 species of birds, of which 27 are endemic will take some doing in maze of the dense vegetation.
Nyungwe National Park is a tropical rainforest but its positioning at higher altitude and just south of equator ensures it has a pleasant climate throughout the year. But the best time to visit are the drier months of June to August or December to January. The dry conditions ensure the game is out and about and easily visible. The hikes are also easy due to dry underfoot conditions but primates are tough to spot as they venture deep into jungle or food. In wet seasons February to May, or from October to mid-December the treks get muddy and challenging but primate viewing is easy and nature is at its lush green best.
Nyungwe Forest is the sanctuary of nearly a quarter of Africa’s primate population and home to 13 species of primates, including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus and the habituated chimpanzees )75 species of other mammals, at least 275 species of birds and an astounding 120 species of butterflies tell a bewildering tale of the park's spectacular biodiversity. Though chimpanzee tracking is a major attraction, the canopy walks, biking on the and nature walks on the 13 trails of the park amidst the1000 plant species, including the old mahoganies, ebonies, and towering tree ferns, wild orchids witnessing its nearly 310 species of beautiful birds make it an make it a memorable experience.
You can get to Nyungwe forest national park either by road or by air.
You can take a bus headed to Ruzizi from Nyabugogo bus park in Kigali, get off at Uwinka Center. But it's a long journey and can be exhausting as you have to cover 225km to cover from Kigali to the Nyungwe forest. Hiring a car is much more comfortable, convenient and will take a much shorter time.
You can book a flight with RwandAir, which operates 9 flights a week from Kigali to Kamembe International airport. From Kamembe airport its just 32km to Nyungwe forest lodge, and helicopter pickups are available if you can afford it.