Nyungwe Forest National Park -Wildelife, Canopy walk and Birds
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest remaining montane rainforest in East Africa. Nyungwe Forest National Park extends for 1,015kilometres squared over the mountainous southwest of Rwanda, forming a contiguous forest block with Burundi’s 370kilometres squared Kibira National Park.
This National park is the most important catchment area in Rwanda supplying water to 70% of the country, and its central ridge divides Africa’s two largest drainage systems, the Nile and the Congo, a spring on the slopes of the 2,950metres Mount Bigugu now regarded to be the most remote source of the world’s longest River.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a remarkable rich centre of biodiversity. More than 1,050 plant species, 250 Albertine Rift Endemics and 200 orchids, along with at least 120 butterfly species. The vertebrate fauna includes 32 amphibians, 38 reptiles, 85 mammals and 310 bird species of which about 15% are Albertine Rift Endemics.
At Nyungwe Forest, primates are the main attraction, 13 species are recorded and present including the Chimpanzee with an estimated population of between 500-1000 which is usually tracked at a short notice or even the sound they make in the jungle, several other monkeys are readily seen; including the L’Hoest’s monkey and acrobatic Ruwenzori colobus.
Nyungwe National Park is also highly alluring to bird watchers, botanist and keen walkers, with its 130 network of walking trails and the only sight for suspended canopy walk, the National park features few tourist itineraries, because the forest trails require a certain level of fitness.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a home to 13 species of primates the park is the only destination in Rwanda that offers Chimpanzee trekking. Chimpanzee tracking starts in the morning and its best to carry a day pack with you at least 2 litres of drinking water, have long trousers, the long sleeved shirt, rain jacket, the hiking boots and a hat.
Chimpanzees in this forest are being habituated and they are used to human presence. Chimpanzee tracking here is more hit-and-miss than Gorilla tracking, partly because these smaller and less sedentary apes are usually found either feeding high in the trees or moving swiftly along the ground.
Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk
Suspended between higher slopes and giant trees about 1km from Uwinka, the metallic walkway is almost 200metres long, with maximum height of around 40metres, and it offers a superb for bird watchers and over a steep stream bed lined with tall trees and fern. It can feel quite unstable to those with acrophobia for heights.
Nyungwe forest has 310 bird species 27 Albertine rift endemics part of the species that are established in the forests of the Albertine Rift Endemics, of which three are (Red-collared, Rockefeller’s sunbird and Albertine owlet) are unregistered elsewhere on the Eastern side of the Albertine rift. Bird watching in Nyungwe forest is good since the vegetation is good for birds and many birds are usually seen at the canopy. Of the 27 Albertine Rift Endemics found in Nyungwe Forest National Park are the Ruwenzori Turaco, handsome francolin, red-faced woodland warbler, collared apalis, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, mountain masked apalis, Ruwenzori batis and regal sunbird.
Nyungwe National Park is a home to also trek Ruwenzori colobus, grey cheeked Mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkey, Owl faced monkey, Mona monkeys, Dent’s monkey, silver monkey and blue monkey. It is a mystical experience to come across a forest covered with colobus monkey with their black and white colours.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the perfect park for hiking, with a varied selection of walking prospects and other expeditions.
The trail takes you to through astonishing views of Lake Kivu and the hills of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bird watchers come here to see the localized red-collared mountain babbler, but the area also boosts some wonderful wildflowers, ranging from red-hot pokers and orchids to giant lobelias.
Set on the slopes of Nyabwe near the park’s Eastern boundary, this new circular trail is the only straightforward option open to people staying at the KCCEM Guesthouse without their own transport, since the trailhead lies about 200m down a side road on the left of the main road only 3km past Kitabi Entrance Gate. The trail is ideal for camping.
This trail leads from the forested main road downhill to the relatively low-lying Kamiranzovu, this trail is the parks’ largest swamp, set within a caldera like depression.
This is one of the easiest trail in Nyungwe, and the best for bird watching. The absence of big trees is largely because human disturbance, first as gold mine and market.
This superb trail starts at the Gisakura Tea Plantations and to the largest waterfall in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest remaining tract of montane rainforest in East Africa, the park contains 13 primate species including are present including the Chimpanzee with a population estimated at 500-1000 which is usually tracked at a short notice or even the sound they make in the jungle, several other monkeys are readily seen; including the L’Hoest’s monkey acrobatic Ruwenzori colobus, Dent’s Mona Monkey, Olive Baboon, Velvet Monkey, Silver Monkey, Angola Colobus and the red-tailed Monkey.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is an important site for birders; there are 284 bird species and 26 species of the Albertine Rift Endemic bird area which occur in Rwanda. The birds at Nyunwe Forest National Park include among others; the Rockefeller’s sun bird, Chapin’s flycatcher, Ruwenzori Turaco, Batis diops, Ruwenzori Batis, Handsome Francolin, Regal Sunbird, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Francolins Nobilis, Black and White Hornbill, Regal Sunbird and Yellow –eyed Black Flycatcher.
Nyungwe Forest is remarkably rich in biodiversity in the region, more than 200 tree species including orchids, flowering plants and giant lobelia. The park has a span of vegetation zones that are dispensed according to their different altitudes. At 2500m above sea level, you explore the Alpine vegetation which is characterized by bamboo and shrubs. At 2250m, there lies a range of tall trees and fern species such as Polycscias, Newtonia and Symphonia. At 1900m, there lies taller tree species like Carapa, Cyathea Manniana and Newtonia.