Nyungwe forest national park commonly known for its bird and primate species is the largest and most ancient preserved afro-montane forest remaining in the East and Central Africa. The park is found in the south western region of the Republic of Rwanda (the land of a 1000 hills) at the border with the Republic of Burundi to the south and with Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, occupying an area of over 1000 square metre (600 sq. m) of rainforest, grassland, bamboo, swamps and bogs and has an elevation of 1600-2950m above sea level.
Nyungwe forest national park was established in 2004, as the country was decidedly looking to expand its tourism sector and later in 2005 it was declared as a national park and officially a protected area.
Nyungwe forest national park harbours a variety of creatures including the habituated chimpanzees and other 12 primate species, 300 different bird species of which 16 are endemic, 75 different mammal or animal species, an astounding 120 species of butterflies and a variety of plant species.
Things to do and see in the park
The park is blessed with Nyungwe forest that is filled with nature and wildlife experiences for one to engage in. Some of these include;
- Hiking along well-maintained trails: Being hiker’s paradise, there are 13 hiking trails with over 130 kilometres of the trails through the forest.
- Chimpanzee tracking: Spots you to the habituated chimps.
- Canopy walk: Takes you through the first tree top forest walk in East Africa and the third in the all of Africa.
- Bird watching: The park being a birders’ paradise, spots to both endemics and non-endemics species of birds.
- Visiting the Isumo waterfalls: This is also a centre for some primates and bird species.
How to get to the park
The park’s main entrance is at Uwinka on the main Cyangugu – Butare road approximately 55km from Cyangugu and 90km from Butare. If traveling from Cyangugu ignore the sign in town that says its 20km and further ignore the sign 15km from Cyangugu directing you right up a dirt track. These refer to a small off shoot of the park, not the park proper.
There are buses along the route, and those interested at using motorbikes can do so of the fact that the road is in good condition. Those opting for buses are advised to book your tickets in advance.