Nyungwe National Park safaris, tours & holiday packagesChimp tracking and a wealth of forest endemics
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The largest remaining montane rainforest in East Africa, Nyungwe is also one of the most biodiverse, supporting 13 primate species and many rare forest birds.
Gazetted in 2000, Nyungwe is Rwanda's newest and largest national park, extending across 1,000 square kilometres of mountainous southwestern Burundi border region, where it protects the largest extant montane rainforest in East Africa. Nyungwe's main attraction for most visitors is its population of at least 500 chimpanzees, which can be tracked at Cyamudongo, a relict montane forest patch protected as an isolated annex to the park. The other big draw, constructed in 2010, is a 200-metre-long canopy walkway that offers thrilling views of life above the forest floor.
During my half a dozen visits to Nyungwe, I've found the scenery, birding and primate viewing to be reliably excellent. Regrettably, the park risks being marketed as a bit of a one-trick pony, with the focus being on chimp tracking, which is not currently its main strength.
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Nyungwe's extent is most apparent from the main road between Kigali and the Lake Kivu port of Cyangugu, which affords a series of sensational views over forest-swathed slopes that roll towards the southern horizon. And chimps are just one facet of its rich biodiversity, which reflects both the great antiquity of the forest and its impressive altitudinal range, spanning more than 1,000 metres. A full 13 primate species are present, most visibly the bulky white-bearded L'Hoest's monkey and the more acrobatic and graceful Ruwenzori colobus.
Nyungwe is an utterly marvellous site for forest birds. Some 275 species have recorded, including 24 that are endemic to the few remaining forests of the Albertine Rift (the western arm of the Great Rift Valley that runs along the Congolese border with Rwanda and Uganda), among them Ruwenzori turaco, red-collared babbler, red-throated alethe, red-faced woodland-warbler, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, strange weaver and the marsh-associated Grauer's rush-warbler. It is also a great site for the garish great blue turaco, which is often seen crossing the road in heavy-flapping flocks.
Nyungwe Forest Map
Nyungwe Forest's location on Google Maps
Frequently Asked Questions about Nyungwe Forest
The best time to visit Nyungwe Forest National Park in the southern Rwanda is during the drier months of June to August or December to January. Even though June to August or December to January are categorically referred to as drier months… go there.