Cyamudongo forest is a small forest located next to Nyungwe forest national park covering about 20 sq. km. Cyamudongo forest is a small forest but popular in Rwanda for harboring endangered chimpanzees. Cyamudongo forest has one fully habituated chimpanzee family comprising of 30-40 members and these are open for tourists to trek at any time of the year.
Cyamudongo used to be park of Nyungwe forest national park until the victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide moved to the area for settlement. Most of the land was cleared for settlement, another was cleared for agriculture but when the government of Rwanda intervened in the matters the area had to the gazetted so as to protect the wild animals that were living in the park and as of today it’s the chimpanzees that have made this park famous.
Apart from chimpanzees, Cyamudongo forest is a home to monkeys such as blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, crowned monkeys, mammals like elephants, buffaloes, duikers, giant forest hogs, and birds such as eastern mountain greenbul, dwarf honeyguide, blue-headed sunbird, handsome francolin, and regal sunbird to mention but a few.
Things to do in Cyamudongo forest
Chimpanzee trekking in Cyamudongo forest: This is one of the activities that can be done in Cyamudongo forest in Rwanda. Nyungwe forest national park has 2 fully habituated chimpanzee families and one of them is found in Cyamudongo forest. There are more than 100 chimpanzees in Cyamudongo forest but about 30 individuals are fully habituated and open for tourism at all times of the year.
Chimpanzee trekking in Cyamudongo forest starts with a briefing where tourists are taught about the dos and don’ts of chimpanzee trekking by the park wardens. After the briefing activity, the tourists are led by the ranger guides into the forest where they use different walking trails to search for endangered apes. While searching for chimpanzees, tourists are able to spot different forest mammals, birds, and tree species.
After 2-4 hours of searching chimpanzees in this park, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around these apes that share 98% human DNA and in the period given, they are able to learn about their habits, watch them do daily activities such as hunting, patrolling, nesting, playing, and take photos. Trekking these chimpanzees is done by those with valid trekking permits and they are sold at $90 per person per trek at Rwanda Development Board.
Birding: Cyamundongo forest might be covering a small area but there are so many bird species that live within this forest. To have the best of the birding activity in Cyamudongo, move with your birding book, a camera, and a pair of binoculars to see distant birds. Birds in Cyamudongo forest include Kungwe Apalis, Roos’s turaco, Congo forest biome, strange weaver, dusky crimson wing, Rwenzori batis, Rockefeller’s sunbird, handsome francolin, archer robin’s chat, chapin’s flycatcher, red collared mountain babbler, strip breasted tit and blue-throated apalis among others.
Nature walks: Nature walk activities can be done in Cyamudongo forest but with a help of a guide. The guides lead the nature walks in order to protect tourists from dangerous forest animals that can harm a person. The nature walks are done using different trails within the forest and during the activity, tourists are able to spot different birds, mammals, primates, and plant species.
Cultural visits: While on a safari to Cyamudongo forest may be for trekking or birding, tourists can have a visit to any of the neighboring communities. This will enable them to interact with local people, see them do day-to-day activities, be part of ceremonies, visit art and craft shops, listen to stories from old people, and get entertainment from traditional dancers.
Canopy walk: Tourists on a safari to Cyamudongo forest can add the canopy walk on their list and do it from Nyungwe forest. The participants will have to move to Uwinka park headquarters where briefing first takes place and then ranges will lead you through the Igishigishi trial to the starting point of the canopy. The canopy walk is done on a 90m long bride raised 50m above the ground and it gives tourists an opportunity to have an aerial view of the park animals, birds, water sources, plants, and surrounding areas.
When to visit Cyamudongo forest
Cyamudongo forest can be visited at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The drier months are the best for the visit to this forest and they occur from June to September and December to February. These months are characterized by little and sometimes no rainfall and this leaves the trials in the forest dry, the vegetation is short giving clear views of the park animals, and the roads leading to this forest are passable.
Tourists can still visit Cyamudongo forest in the rainy season of March to May and October to November but they need to know these months come with plenty of rainfall, the trekking trails are muddy ad slippery, the vegetation is thick and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
Accommodation on a safari to Cyamudongo forest?
Tourists visiting Cyamudongo forest and would want to spend a night or two can use accommodation facilities around Nyungwe forest national park. These accommodation facilities do range from budget to mid range to luxury options and they include One & Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Top View Hotel, Gisakura Guest House, Gisakura Family Hostel, E.R.A Gisakura Visitor Guesthouse, Emeraude Kivu Resort, Peace Guesthouse, Hotel du Lac, Rusizi Progress Hotel, Golden Monkey Hotels, Comoran Lodge, and Delta Resort Hotel among others.