Nyungwe National Park
Travel to Nyungwe National Park – Home to Numerous Primate Species
Extending for 1,000 square kilometres across the majestic hills of southeast Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is the largest block of montane forest in East or Central Africa, and one of the most ancient, dating back to before the last Ice Age. A uniquely rich centre of floral diversity, the forest has more than 200 different types of tree, and a myriad of flowering plants including the other-worldly giant lobelia and a host of colourful orchids.
Nyungwe’s bio-diversity is astounding and is one of Africa’s most endemic species-rich areas. The Nyungwe Forest has only recently received the status of a protected National Park, making it East Africa’s largest protected high-altitude rainforest.
Nyungwe is most alluring for its primates: 13 species in all, including humankind’s closest living relative the chimpanzee, as well as the handsome L’Hoest’s monkey and hundred-strong troops of the delightfully acrobatic Angola colobus. The most important ornithological site in Rwanda, Nyungwe harbours almost 300 bird species of which two dozen are restricted to a handful of montane forests on the Albertine Rift. The avian highlight of Nyungwe is the great blue turaco – an outlandish blue, red and green bird which streams from tree to tree like a procession of streamlined psychedelic turkeys.
An extensive network of well-maintained walking trails leads through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points. Rwandan Chimpanzee spotting takes place daily with two trackers following a particular group whilst also gathering data on their movements.
A comfortably rustic resthouse and perfectly situated campsite lie alongside the main road, and the reserve can readily be visited as a day trip from the towns of Butare and Cyangugu. Nyungwe does, however, deserve more time: anybody who wants to track chimps and see several varieties of smaller primate will need two days there – and dedicated birdwatchers might never want to leave!
Private transport by 4WD or an organised tour is recommended for a thorough discovery of this area.
- The forest contains more than 1,200 plant species including more than 100 different species of orchids and 200 trees, some of which reach heights of over 60 metres!
- Great for birdwatching.
- Head out on foot in search of chimps with an expert tracker.