Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest forest park in Rwanda and it is notably a preferred primate destination for a good reason. No better destination offers exhilarating chimpanzee encounters in Rwanda than Nyungwe Forest National Park. Located in the far Southwest of Rwanda, Nyungwe is a home to a total of 13 primate species and these include over 500 chimpanzees making it the best chimpanzee trekking spot.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a vast forest park lying close to border of Rwanda and Burundi, Lake Kivu found in the South while D.R. Congo lies in the West. The park is set in Cyangugu town and from Kigali, accessing Nyungwe takes about 6 hours’ drive.
Established in 2004 and spreading on land area of about 1000sq.kms, Nyungwe is a special primate safari destination in East Africa. The extensive rain-forest park lies on altitudinal range of 1600 to 2950m. It consists of swamps, grassland, bamboo, rain-forest, bogs and these shelter the park’s diverse wildlife species.
Primates & other wildlife
Over 13 primate species are in Nyungwe Forest National Park and they include chimpanzees, Angolan colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, Hamlyn’s monkeys, bush babies, Rwenzori colobus monkeys, silver monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, red tailed monkeys and many more. There are also several clawless, 120 butterfly species, reptiles, amphibians, etc.
An estimate of 310 bird species including 27 Albertine rift endemic species live in Nyungwe Forest National Park. The birds of Nyungwe Forest include the blue headed sunbirds, Doherty’s bush shrike, red collared mountain babblers, lagden’s bush shrikes, chestnut throated, purple breasted sunbird, Neumann’s short tailed warblers, pock feller’s sunbird, blue turacos, grey chested Kakamega, red collared mountain babblers, mountain sooty boubou, etc.
Nyungwe Forest National Park Safari Activities
Chimpanzee tracking is Nyungwe Forest’s leading travel experience and engaging in it is a great opportunity to enjoy a close encounter with chimpanzees. A total of 500 chimpanzees reside in the Nyungwe plus other primates. There are about 2 chimp communities to visit for chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest N/Park that is Cyamudongo and Uwinka sectors.
Two sessions for chimpanzee trekking are available in Nyungwe Forest National Park that is in the morning and afternoon. Morning chimpanzee trek begins with 7:00am briefing on rules and afternoon Nyungwe chimpanzee treks start at 2:00pm.
Nyungwe chimp trekking permits cost USD100 per person. Reach out to our reservation team to assist you book your chimpanzee permit and also plan for the entire safari to see chimpanzees in Nyungwe N/Park.
Colobus monkey tracking
Colobus monkey tracking is a special primate trekking experience awaiting you to be part of on Rwanda safari. You track to see several colobus monkeys, plus other primates including the grey cheeked mangabeys, baboons, Dent’s Mona monkeys, red tailed monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, silver monkeys, Angolan colobus monkeys, etc.
Hikes in Nyungwe Forest National Park introduce you to different habitats in the park each rewarding you with unique experiences. The popular trails in Nyungwe National Park include canopy trail, the Congo-Nile trail, Bigugu trail, Irebero trail, Kamiranzovu, Umugote trail, Isumo trail, Karaba etc.
There are several special bird species worth spotting on Rwanda safari in Nyungwe Forest National Park. More than 310 bird species live in this park alone and on birding tour, the likely birds to sight include white bellied robin chat, mountain sooty boubou, blue turacos, grey chested Kakamega, yellow eyed black flycatchers, Doherty’s bush shrike, Red collared mountain babblers, Rwenzori collared warblers and more.
In the whole of East Africa, it is only in Nyungwe Forest National Park where a canopy walk is available. This takes you from Uwinka reception, through 200m walk way which is 45m suspended from the ground.
Cultural visits in Nyungwe Forest allow you to interact with local residents adjacent to the park. You will be led to nearby villages such as Banda, Kibati villages for authentic cultural experiences, explore about the unique cultures, traditions, engage in craft making, get entertained by the dances, etc.
When to visit
Nyungwe National Park is open to all primate lovers, birders, nature enthusiasts all year round. However, the habitat is conducive for chimpanzee tracking during the dry season starting from June to September/December, January till February.
Luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation facilities all exist in and around Nyungwe Forest National Park. They include Nyungwe Forest Lodge, One & Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel, Gisakura Hostel, Nziza Eco-Lodge.
How to get there
By road travel: Nyungwe Forest National Park is 5-6 hours’ drive on Muhanga-Huye-Nyamagabe route starting from Kigali. By air: take domestic flight up to Kamembe airport from Kigali Airport.