Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe forest national park is one of Rwanda’s three national parks located in the South western part of the country. Nyungwe is one of Africa’s well preserved montane rainforests. It borders Burundi in the south and the Democratic republic of Congo in the west. The Nyungwe forest national park was established in the year of 2004. It covers an area of about 970 square kilometers in between the basins of the two great rivers of River Congo in the west and River Nile on the east side of the park. River Nile also branches off into the Nyungwe forest. This forest is majorly comprised of bamboo, swamps, rainforest, grassland, and bogs.
Nyungwe forest national park is commonly recognized for its primate life as it harbors 13 different primate species which is 25% of all Africa’s total primate species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian species, 275 bird species, 1,068 plant species, and 38 reptile species. Most of these species of Nyungwe forest are endemic and the numbers that are endemic are more than any other forest recorded in the Albertine Rift. This Albertine rift covers parts of Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic republic of Congo and Uganda that means it stretches all the way from the north side of Lake Albert to the south side of Lake Tanganyika. The Albertine rift montane forests are considered important eco-regions and the mountains and the rift are a result of tectonic plate movements. The Nyungwe forest is a maximum altitude of 3000 metres above sea level so expect the weather to be extremely cold on your visit to Nyungwe.
Some of the famous attractions of the Nyungwe forest national park are the chimpanzees scientifically known as “Pan troglodytes” and the Angola colobus/ Rwenzori colobus, endemic but extinct species of Angola, scientifically known as the “Colobus Angolensis” ,the other primate species found in Nyungwe are the L’hoest’s monkeys, dent’s mona monkey, vervet monkey, silver monkeys, golden monkey, red tailed monkey, hamlyn’s monkey, grey checked mangabey and the olive baboon. The chimpanzee is a species of the great ape endemic to tropical Africa.
The chimpanzee is a dark black furry ape but with a hairless face, toes, sole of the feet, fingers and the palms of the hands. It is so alike humans in so many aspects even DNA shows closeness to that of humans. The gestation period of the chimps is 8 months. These primates live in a group of about 15 to 100 members. The chimpanzee infant breastfeeds for only 3 months but still is cared for by the mother chimp until it is of age. The chimp colonies are led by the dominant male and strictly hierarchy. The chimps are interesting in the way they go about life as they hunt for their food and have been seen using tools like an early man used to like modifying sticks and rocks. This primate has been listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and natural resources (IUCN) on the Red List of endangered species seeing as an estimate of 170,000 to 300,000 individuals are left in the world. The major reason behind the population loss of the chimps is diseases, habitat loss, and poaching however with the combined efforts of conservationists, the numbers have over the years been stable and now increasing. However much the chimps resemble the human race, their physical strength is almost 2 times greater than of a human. This is mainly because of the fast-twitch muscles that chimps have that enable them with the daily swinging on tree branches and climbing of trees.
The world conservation society along with Rwanda Development Board has had successful conservation efforts for the Nyungwe forest as they have equipped the park rangers with the necessary skills, rehabilitating the tourism infrastructures in the area. There are a few accommodations you can check yourself into when visiting Nyungwe that is the luxurious one and only Nyungwe house, Nyungwe top hill view hotel, Gisakura visitor centre, and Gisakura Guest House.
Nyungwe forest national park has 13 trails of which the shortest is about 130 kilometers and it is on these trails that you get to enjoy the attractions and what the park has to offer. Besides the chimp treks and monkey treks, while in Nyungwe you can book yourself a walk on East Africa’s first treetop canopy walk and the third in Africa. This canopy is a 200 metres long bridge and is suspended 50 meters above the ground so if you are afraid of heights, this may not be your activity. There are also great birding trails in Nyungwe with about 300 bird species of which 27 are endemic to the area, for example, the Grauer’s warbler. The lush green vegetation of the Nyungwe forest is one you shouldn’t miss out on.
If you have enough time, you could also check out a tea plantation as they have one of the best tea in the region. Get in touch with us and let us organize for you a memorable trip to Nyungwe forest national park Rwanda.