Nyungwe National Park

Deep in the south west within the albertine rift area is the Nyungwe Forest National Park, home to the region’s largest and oldest remaining patches of mountain rain forest and a number o eco-systems form rain forest, bamboo, grassland, swamps and bog habitats. It protects one of the region’s largest and oldest remaining patches of montane rain forest and is home o 310 species of birds.

Nyungwe Forest Park is a high-altitude, mountainous rainforest in southern Rwanda established as a forest reserve in 1933. The conservation area consists of approximately 378 square miles (970 square kilometers). The forest is located in the Albertine Rift, a series of mountain ranges beginning at the Rwenzori mountains in western Uganda and Congo, continuing south into the Lendu Plateau in eastern Congo. Contiguous with Kibira National Park in Burundi, Nyungwe is one of the largest mountainous rainforests remaining in Africa. Just recently the Nyungwe forest received National Park status, making it East Africa’s largest protected high-altitude rainforest.

Nyungwe’s biodiversity is astonishing by African standards and is one of the most endemic species-rich areas in all of Africa. Along with its biodiversity, Nyungwe is an important water catchment for Rwanda and contains many natural resources integral to Rwanda’s human populations. Rwanda is also in one of the most heavily populated areas of Africa with over 8 million inhabitants in a country the size of the state of Vermont in the United States. Nyungwe is under constant threat from anthropogenic and environmental stresses.

Nyungwe Tropical Rain Forest National Park is a home to a lot of flora and fauna habituated by about 300 bird species, with 25 bird species endemic, 13 primate species, about 1070 plant species, 85 mammal species, about 40 amphibians, 40 reptile species, and so many others. And among these (bird species) you will be abe to enjoy the big sized and small as well as very small birds and you will be able to see the rift Albertine, the paradise fly catchers, green strong weavers, red breasted sparrow, hawks, etc. These will provide you with the best birding experience in Africa as you will hear the early risers sing and hoot throughout the forest which is yet another wonderful Experience. (though it may be quite hard to view these air moving creatures as they may be covered by the thick vegetation of the forest, therefore you are advised to bring binoculars with you for a better sight).

The National park is also habituated by 13 primate species and well known for settlement of chimpanzees in large numbers, holding about 500of these Apes. It is also a home to several other wild animals like; some of the various types of monkeys(golden monkeys, silver monkeys, two faced monkeys, velvet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, etc. ) ,you should expect to view all these while on your wildlife safaris in the forest. During the wildlife visit, you will also be able to enjoy the various beautiful and colorful butterflies of the African jungle, orchids, several insects’ reptiles (different types of snakes, lizards, crocodiles etc as well as amphibians like the frogs etc).

This wild safari in Rwanda also provides you with the beautiful vegetation of Nyungwe Tropical Rainforest.The forest has the varying vegetation types as you more to higher areas.It has the various vegetation types that is; montane, rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps and bogsand this gives such a wonderful scenic view especially when the sun is rising and setting, it provides you with a breath taking view / sight which is quite very memorable. It should be noted that these permits to the forest are provided / or can be obtained from the Rwanda Tourism Development Board, be ready to be absorbed into Africa’s Natural Wonders.

As It is a tropical rainforest, receiving rains throughout the year and also a watershed for several African rivers like Congo and Nile River, hick dressing gear should be included in the package that is a long sleeved shirt and long thick trousers to shield you against the insect stings like nettles found in the forest, raincoat and jacket because it’s a rainy forest and the rains do fall from now and then, hat, tracking / hiking boots as it’s a waterlogged forest, walking sticks, water, snack / food in the backpack as you may go hungry while on the move.

Other regulations and briefings about the forest and wildlife safaris,can be obtained from the park headquarters / office and here, the tour guide and porter will be provided to smoothen up your trip. The tour guide is usually very knowledgeable about the forest and therefore will provide you with more information during your trek and the porter will help you with your back pack and many other things where you may need help.The wildlife safaris permits for tracking chimpanzees, golden monkeys etc are always provided at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) at; reservation@rwandatourism.com

Facts About Nyungwe Forest


970 square kilometers (378 square miles), the largest single forest block in East Africa.


Between 1,600 meters and 2,950 meters (Between 5,600 feet and 9,700 feet).

Temperature range

0-30 degrees C (32-85 degrees F, average daytime temperature: 15.5 degrees C (60 degrees F).


1800-2500 mm per year (71-78 inches).

Rainy season

September to May.

Dry Season

June to August, with several dry weeks in December/January.

Forest Type

Nyungwe is made up of a complex matrix of Albertine Rift montane forest. Nyungwe is known for its rugged terrain and complex mosaic of dense vegetation types from tall dense forests to open, flower filled marshes. The park has a varied topography with varied soil types providing microhabitats for both plants and animals. Moist, fertile soil supports tall forests, while dry ridges provide habitat for shorter trees and thickets. The southeastern portion of the forest is blanketed with bamboo, an important commodity, while flooded forests, marshes, and open harbaceous ground cover are interspersed throughout.

There are 13 primate species, including habituated chimpanzees, a number of mammals and a large variety of other species within the park, comprising of hundreds of butterflies, a small number of snake species, due to the altitude but several colorful lizards and species of chameleon. There is much to be seen and experienced on a number of magnificent hikes offered in the park.


  • The nyungwe national park lies within five districts; Nyamagabe, Nyaruguru and Karongi.
  • Hikes can be arranged from the Giovu tea plantation, if you book in advance with a guide Uwinka visitor centre.
  • The Nyungwe National Park is home to 310 bird species, 13 primate species, including chimpanzee and more than 1068 plant types, of these 140 are orchids.


Nyungwe national park covers approximately 1000 square kilometers, one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rain forests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity. It is a home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates. It is a birder’s haven with over 300 species including 16 endemics and above all, it is a home to 75 different species of mammals. Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and is of rain forest, bamboo, grassland and swamps.

The park has more than 240 tree species, more than 140 colorful orchids, 1050 plant types, such as the giant lobelia. Of these plants 250 are endemic to the Albertine Rift. The nearest town is Cyangugu, 54 km to the west. Mount Bigugu is located within the park borders. This rain forest is filled with nature and wildlife experiences waiting for you to emerge yourself in. These include;

Chimpanzee trekking

The forest harbors roughly 400 species of chimpanzees. This is a popular activity in Nyungwe national park. Interestingly these welcome guests one in Cyamudongo and another around Uwinka the two wild chimpanzee communities. Trained guides often lead visitors through the park’s forests. Viewing chimpanzees is not guaranteed and therefore one may need learning about these creatures and their natural habitats from guides so it is advisable to use a guide to trek these lovely species. Trekking normally begins in the morning hours.


Nyungwe Forest National Park harbors 310 bird species despite the tropical forests. Birds found here include the Giant hornbills, great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrow hawks are amongst the specials, of which 27 are endemic to this section of the Albertine Rift Valley.

Hiking /biking

Hiking/ biking in this beautiful terrain and tracking the famous chimpanzees is an unforgettable experience. The canopy walk is spectacular, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls is just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers. Exploring through the forest, travelers witness the lush green mountains and cooling mist in a landscape that can’t be forgotten.

Monkey trekking (other primates)

Besides chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park, monkey trekking is yet another interesting and highly rewarding activity. The national park is a home to the two threatened species of monkeys which are the owl faced monkey and the golden monkey. The most celebrated of Nyungwe’s primates is the Ruwenzori Colobus which is highly arboreal and acrobatic leaf-eater, easily distinguished from any other primate found in Nyungwe by its contrasting black over all color and snow-white whiskers, shoulders and tail tip. The colubus monkeys in Nyungwe forest national park typically move in troops of several hundred animals. Other types of monkeys in Nyungwe National Park are the L’Hoest’s monkey, Silver monkey, golden monkey; Owl faced monkey, red tailed monkey, Dent’s Mona monkey, crowned monkey, Velvet monkey, and Olive baboon black and white colobus among others. Other mammals in Nyungwe include among others squirrels, Giant Forest Hogs, Bush Pigs, Tree Hyrax, Duiker, Leopards, Golden Cat, Serval, Wild Cat, Side-striped Jackal, African Civet and Mongoose.

Canopy walk

Nyungwe forest national park has the biggest canopy walk in East Africa which is 50 meters above the ground level and 200 meters long. The canopy is a steep and deep valley across a massive forest. The canopy walk has towers hanging platform which provides travelers with a clear view of different animal species at a close range. All animals and bird species which live in the upper scale of the tropical rain forest are accessed by the travelers which are not a case in other national parks that have no canopy walks. This canopy walk should not be missed by any traveler to Rwanda.

Guided nature walks

Nyungwe has well established trails that offer great nature walks adventures and a chance to experience lots of wildlife at close encounter.

Orchid Ogling

Nyungwe is home to 154 species of orchids, eight of which are endemic to Rwanda. The Park hosts 68% of the orchid flora of Rwanda. It is one of the world’s greatest concentrations of orchids.

Accessibility to Nyungwe national park

Nyungwe National Park is approximately 225km from Kigali. It is about a five hours drive. The road to Nyungwe meanders across highlands with lots of sharp turns and winding areas. On the way to Nyungwe there are interesting historical sites one can see such as Nyanza Kings Palace at Nyabisindu, the reconstructed King’s palace which gives the insight into the royals of the Rwanda Kingdom, the National Museum, intore dancers, craft shops, the arboretum, and the Cathedral all in Huye and Gikongoro’s Genocide Memorial along the way to Nyungwe.

Accommodation in Nyungwe forest Park

Nyungwe Forest Lodge is an Eco-lodge located in the tea estate overlooking Nyungwe forest. The lodge has Wi-Fi internet, TV, health club. You can also stay at Uwinka Rest House, Gisakura Guest House, ORTPN campsites and nyungwe top market. Visiting the primates can be done basing at Gisakura ORTPN headquarters and at Uwinka Tourist Centre

Other tourism activities done in nyungwe national park include;

  • Excursions to Kamiranzovu Marsh.
  • Excursions to Lake Kivu and Gisakura tea factory.
  • Scaling Mt Bigugu (2925M).