Nestled within the South-western corner of Rwanda bordering Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi is the verdant Nyungwe Forest National Park. This pristine Tropical rainforest is filled with abundant biodiversity making it one of the important conservation areas not only in Rwanda but in Africa as a whole.

Nyungwe Forest National Park shelters one of Africa’s oldest forests extending for over 1020 square kilometers (394 square miles) of mainly bamboo, rainforest, bogland, swamps and grasslands making it the largest swathe of surviving Montane forests in East and Central Africa.

It is a magnificent and verdant area endowed with exceptional wildlife experiences that provide a closer touch with nature, hence making it a must-visit destination for a Rwandan safari. It was gazetted in 2004 as a way of diversifying Rwanda’s tourism beyond mountain gorillas that everyone knows the country for. Even with abundant biodiversity, Nyungwe Forest National Park still remains unknown and a mystery to most tourists outside the borders of the country. Actually, some tourists even get surprised that such a wonderful destination exists. With breathtaking hiking opportunities and communities of primates within the Park, it deserves more attention than it currently receives. Interestingly, this protected area is one of the exceptional places in Africa where tourists can enjoy an exhilarating Canopy walk that rewards tourists with breathtaking views of tree canopies, primates, butterfly and birds species among others.

Wildlife within Nyungwe Forest National Park

This Forest National Park is a haven to 86 mammal species including over 13 species of primates such as strong troop comprising of 400 habituated Angola Black and white Colobus monkeys or the Angola colobus, approximately 400 Chimpanzees, Golden monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Dent’s mona monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Grey-cheeked mangabeys, Olive baboons, Hamlyn’s monkeys, Silver monkeys and Vervet monkeys among others. Not only that, over 310 species of birds including 25 Albertine Rift Endemic birds, 242 species of orchids, 38 reptile species, 32 Amphibian species, 120 species of butterflies and 1068 species of plants including more than 260 tree species are found within Nyungwe Forest National Park. Some common tree species you will see include Bamboo, African mahogany and Albizia.

Interesting Activities within Nyungwe Forest National Park

Chimpanzee tracking

Nyungwe Forest National Park is the Capital of Chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda with over 500 individuals that call this Forest home but only two habituated communities (troops) are available for tracking. A Chimpanzee permit costs only $100 per person  and the activity starts from three reception centers that include Kitabi, Uwinka (main) and Gisakura where tourists are briefed on do’s and don’ts of chimpanzee tracking.

Forest Canopy walks/Tree Top walks

If you visit Nyungwe Forest National Park and miss out forest canopy walks, then you would have missed real adventure and why this Park is referred as a Paradise. The 200 meter trail is known as “Igishigishigi trail” and was launched in 2010. Starting from Uwinka reception center, this adventure introduces tourists to some of the natural wonders of the Park such as Primates species (especially L’Hoest’s monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Grey-cheeked monkeys and Angola colobus among others), birds and tree species, to mention but a few.

Nature walks/Hiking

With over 130 kilometers of hiking trails, this destination undeniably offers excellent opportunities for hiking/nature walks that last from 3 hours to several days depending on what trail you will to undertake. These trails include Irebero trail, Ngabwe trail, Imbaraga trail, Umuyove trail, Umugote trail, Bigugu trail, Karamba trail, Igishigishigi trail (for an exhilarating canopy walk), Congo-Nile divide trail, Rukuzi trail, Kamiranzovu marsh trail, Isumo waterfall trail, source of the Nile trail and Muzimu trail.


As earlier mentioned, Nyungwe Forest is a home to over 310 species of birds that include 25 Albertine Rift endemic species, 11 of 23 species of Guinea-Congo Forest Biome and at least 71 of the total 74 species of Afro-tropical highland biome species. Some notable bird species to look out for include Yellow-eyed black flycatcher, handsome francolin, stripe-breasted Tit, Mountain Scooty Boubou and Rwenzori Hill Babbler among others.

Where to Stay within Nyungwe Forest National Park

Accommodation facilities within this lush destination offer a typical touch of the jungle and these Lodges include luxurious Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel (midrange), Gisakura Guesthouse (also ORTPN Rest house) and Uwinka Campsite among others.

How to Reach the National Park

Kigali City is the gateway to most destinations in Rwanda, is about 255 kilometers (158 miles) and 4-5 hours to reach this National Park. The main Park entrance into Nyungwe Park is Uwinka gate found along Cyangugu-Butare road. This means that someone at Cyangugu is about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from the main entrance while a tourist at Butare is 90 kilometers (56 miles) away from Uwinka gate.

Therefore, with over 25 primate species and 310 bird species within Nyungwe Forest National Park, tourists have a reason to spend more time (days) so as to explore the natural wonders within Rwanda.