Nyungwe forest National park is situated in the southwestern part of the Republic of Rwanda at the border with Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is found within the town of Cyangugu adjacent to Lake Kivu. Nyungwe Forest National park sits in 970 square kilometres of land and it was elevated from Forest Reserve to a national park in 2004. The Park was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1903.
Nyungwe Forest National is famously known as a home for chimpanzees which has made it popular to tourists who engage in chimpanzee tracking as the main activity on the destination. Chimpanzee tracking is the main activity that is done in Nyungwe Forest. Presently there are two habituated chimpanzee groups in the park which are ready for tracking by tourists with one available in Cyangugu sub forest within the park.
These two groups of chimpanzees are comprised of 90 individual chimpanzee members and Nyungwe Forest National park is Africa’s number one afro montane forest with such species. Other than Chimp tracking, the park provides opportunities for other activities such as forested nature walks, canopy walks whereby tourists are guided to hike up to the top of the trees and walk for 100 meters on top of the trees while enjoying the spectacular vies of the forest trees as well the National park in general.
Nyungwe forest National Park forms an important protected and conservation area in Rwanda’s territory as it anchorages over 1000 both animals, birds, and unique plant species. It is documented from recent surveys that the park hosts over 85 species of mammals with over 1068 species of plants with the majority comprising of tree species about 200 species and orchids. While talking about Nyungwe Forest National park, one cannot forget that the park is the haven of bird species of which some cannot be sighted anywhere other than within the Albertine Rift. As of today, Nyungwe Forest National park billets over 300 species of birds and this makes one of the leading birding destinations in Rwanda.
Another important talking point of Nyungwe National Park is that the park is thought to be the origin of the source of the mighty river Nile though, the well-known source of the Nile source is from Uganda. As a result of changes in mountains and the terrain brought about tectonic movements, the plant diversity of the Nyungwe Forest National park is so interesting. Plants species of different types can be seen covering the ground and this factor has further contributed to the species biodiversity within the park.
The protection of all biodiversity species such as birds, mammals, primates, and plants in Nyungwe Forest National park has been facilitated by the presence of montane vegetation as well as the location of the park within Albertine Rift valley. A great amalgamation of these two factors has created better living conditions for primates such as monkeys and other species such as chimpanzees.
Nyungwe National Park is the only park in East Africa where canopy walks are offered as a tourist activity is offered. This is in the form of a bridge hanging on top of trees where tourists can walk from as they enjoy the aerial views of the treetops and the park. This is one of the most adventurous activities in the park. For tourists going to Nyungwe National park, you cab received at three reception centers which include; Katabo reception center, winter reception center, and Gisakura reception center. All these are located near the entrances of the park.
Due to the presence of a variety of different wildlife species of National and natural importance, found within Nyungwe forest, the government of Rwanda and other environmental stakeholders have stepped up the conservation efforts and have utilizes these resources within in the park to market and make it one of the top tourists’ destinations for tourists safaris in Rwanda this has been possible by involving the local community in conservation efforts so that they can eradicate their illegal activities within the park.
Best time to visit Nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park can be visited at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. Nyungwe forest national park needs to be visited in the dry seasons which occurs from June to September and December to February and during this time, there is little and sometimes no rainfall and this means that the trekking trails are less muddy and not slippery, the vegetation is short giving clear views of the chimpanzees and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Tourists can still visit the park in the rainy season which occurs from March to May and October to November and this favors the budget travelers more because there are huge discounts on accommodation facilities around the park. The rainy season however has plenty of rainfall and this makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation in the park is tall giving unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.