Nyungwe Forest National Park, Facts, History

Nyungwe Forest National Park is situated in southwestern Rwanda, in Rusizi District, which  borders Burundi, Lake Kivu and the Democratic republic of Congo. It became a national park in 2004, forming one of the biggest ecotourism destinations in Africa, as well as  top bucket list destinations to visit in Rwanda.

Owing to its rich biome, Nyungwe national park encompasses the largest  & oldest  montane forest, which comprises of several ecosystems of habitats  including rainforest, bamboo, grasslands, swamps, and bog.

chimpanzee in nyungwe forest

What Is Nyungwe National Park Famous For?

Chimpanzees are  a key attraction in Nyungwe National Park for which it is famous, yet chimpanzee tracking & canopy walks are the main activities  boosting Rwanda’s tourism.

The park protects 2 communities of habituated Chimpanzees (in Cyamudongo and Gisakura), available for chimpanzee trekking & tracking to adventure travelers. The park has 3 reception centers of Uwinka, Gisakura at the center of the Park and Kitabi near the entrance gate

while the Canopy walks allows travelers to walk on about 130km of suspended trail/ridge above the forest, as they enjoy beautiful & breathtaking aerial views over the valley & the surrounding

Besides chimpanzees, Nyungwe Forest National Park harbors more than 100 animals, 12 primate species (including L’Hoest monkeys, troops of black & White colobus mobkeys), which are endemic to the Albertine Rift.

Nyungwe national Park is also the major water catchment of the country, providing upto 75%. It is made up of several rivers on its sides. These rivers flowing on the western arm, feed the River, although it flows via Akagera River, whereas it is also considered the source of the Nile.

However, Nyungwe Forest national Park, can only be accessed, after obtaining any activity permit from Rwanda Development board, or through a reliable tour operator.

Facts & History About Nyungwe national Park

Nyungwe  Forest national Park protects Africa’s best Montane rain forest. The park was first declared a forest reserve in 1933. Amidst 1958 and 1973, Nyungwe forest national park suffered several adversities including deforestation,  animal poaching fire outbreaks,  vast elephant herds were killed as well as Buffaloes, thus leading to a total loss of upto 150km2.

In 1984,  the Rwanda government  alongside the Rwanda Development Board,  recorded  an approximate number of up to 400 colobus monkeys, and in 1787, research facilities were being set up at Uwinka, but was later destroyed in 1994 by the genocide war, which left the Park in awe of despair, because most facilities were demolished, staff were forced to flee for their dear lives, leaving behind the junior staff. Due to the instability, the park  remained untouched, until 2004 when it was declared a national park in Rwanda.

The diverse expanse of 10119km2 of Nyungwe forest National Park, which protects lush Afromontane forest, bamboo-covered slopes, grasslands & wetlands , was then handed over by Rwanda Development Board to African Parks to manage it for 20 years, after signing a contract  in 2020 with the government.

Getting To Nyungwe by road

How To Get To Nyungwe Forest National Park

Getting To Nyungwe Forest National Park by Flight, Road & by water are options of how to get there. A flight  from Rwanda Air, & Akagera Aviation from Kigali to Nyungwe Forest National Park is the fastest & most convenient way to safely arrive at Kamembe/Rusizi, then after followed by a 40 minutes drive to the Park headquarters.

By road, a 6-8 hours’ drive from Kigali to Nyungwe National Park, is least expensive, allowing travelers to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the country side, plus the rolling hills en route, as well as visiting destinations  such as the King’s palace in Nyanza, the national museum in Butare, and the Gikongoro genocide memorial center

However, accessing Nyungwe National Park by boat on Lake Kivu from Rubavu or Karongi-Kamembe for about 6 to 8 hours is also an exciting & thrilling way of getting there.

best time to visit Nyungwe Forest national Park for cgimpanzee trekking

Best Time To Visit Nyungwe National Park?

The best time to Visit Nyungwe Forest National Park is between June to September & December to February, both of which are 2 main dry seasons. However, Nyungwe Forest National Park is open throughout the year for  Chimpanzee tracking, Canopy walks among other activities

The dry months of December, January, February, June, August and September, showcase dry & less slippery trails, light vegetation growth, less/no rains which favors chimpanzees tracking, and all activities, whereas the rainy months of March, April, May October, and November experience long rains, which allows for thicker vegetation growth, & locating chimpanzees, becomes more easier due to food availability within close reach, though trekking becomes so challenging due to the wet/muddy & slippery trails, Nevertheless, it’s the best time of the year to go birding (bird watching), since it’s the best time for breeding,

Attractions & Activities In Nyungwe

The 1015 square kilometer expanse of Nyungwe Forest National Park is composed of 1050 plant species, 310 species of birds, 85 mammals, 10 butterflies species, and 38 species of reptiles as well as 13 primate species, with Chimpanzees, which has contributed to Park’s fame.  This is a hub to top notch activities including: Chimpanzee tracking, Monkey Tracking, Canopy walks, Bird Watching, Colobus Monkey Trekking, Biking through the Congo Nile Trail,
Forest Hike/Treks