Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe National Park - Rwanda

Nyungwe is the source of Africa’s great rivers. Rain that falls on the east side feeds the Nile and on the west runs to the Congo. The Congo-Nile Divide is a mountain range that runs north to south through Rwanda.
Recently, Nyungwe opened a canopy walk, the only one of its kind in East Africa. This is a wonderful vantage point to view the incredible biodiversity of this rare forest.
The canopy walk opens at a time when Rwanda is being recognized as a top 10 global travel destination (Lonely Planet, 2009.) Nyungwe, the largest mountain rainforest in all of Africa, hosts 13 species of primates including the Angola colobus found in groups of 300-400 animals that is an attribute unique to Nyungwe. It also hosts a large population of chimpanzees and two other threatened species of monkeys; the owl faced monkey and reported but unverified sightings of the golden monkey.

Nyungwe is stated as “the most important site for biodiversity conservation in Rwanda” by Birdlife International for its approximately 280 bird species, 25 of which are endemic. Nyungwe’s forests extend to altitudes occupied by few other forests in Africa; 1600-2950 meters above sea level. It is also home to myriad orchids, butterflies, moths and other fascinating insects – all of which constitute the potential for a major, low volume, tourist destination in the making. (Source: Draft Investors Guide to Nyungwe National Park Area, South Western Rwanda, Preliminary version 1 – 2008)
Nyungwe is also Rwanda’s primary water catchment, sheltering more than two-thirds of all of its waters.
The people of the area are as diverse, with many examples of song, dance, music, cuisine, handicrafts and other artisan skills that make for a fascinating complement to the nature side of trip to this part of Africa.
The forest has a network of walking and hiking trails. It has a number of camping sites and the development of cultural tourism near the edge of the Park is underway. New trails and camping sites are planned and being constructed as part of the development project, as are new ways of both observing and enjoying the Park.

Golden monkeys in Nyungwe forest
The thirteen primate species which are found in Nyungwe represents 20-25% of the total number in Africa, an extraordinary figure which in East Africa is comparable only to Uganda’s Kibale forest. Furthermore, several of these primates are listed as vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN red list, and Nyungwe is almost certainly the main stronghold for at least two of them. The most celebrated of Nyungwe’s primate is the Rwenzori Colobus a race of the more wide spread Angola colobus which is restricted to the Albertine Rift. The Rwenzori Colobus is highly arboreal and acrobatic leaf-eater, easily distinguished from any other primate found in Nyungwe by its contrasting black over all colour and snow-white whiskers, shoulders and tail tip. Although all colobus monkeys are very friendly, the ones in Nyungwe are unique in a way, they typically move in troops of several hundred animals. A semi-habituated troop of 400 species, resident in the forest around the campsite, is known to be the largest troop of arboreal primates anywhere in Africa and elsewhere in the world, only the Chinese golden monkey moves in groups of a comparable number. Nyungwe harbors four types of small nocturnal primates more closely related to the lemurs of Madagascar than to any other primates on the African main land. These are three species which include bush baby or galago (group of tiny, hyper active wide – eyed insectivores) and the sloth like potto. All are very unlikely to be seen by tourists.

Birding Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most important bird watching Important areas in Rwanda with over 280 bird species recorded and the majority are forest specialists and 26 are regional endemics whose range is restricted to a few forests along the Albertine Rift. Bird watching in Nyungwe can be rather tiring, since the vegetation is thick and many birds tend to stick to the canopy. You don’t have to be an ardent birdwatcher to appreciate some of Nyungwe’s birds. Most people double when they first spot a great blue turaco, a chicken sized bird with garish blue, green and yellow feathers, often seen gliding between the trees along the main road. Another real gem is the paradise flycatcher, along tailed blue, orange and sometimes white bird often seen around the rest house. Other birds impress with their bizarre appearance the gigantic forest hornbills, for instance, whose wailing vocalizations are almost as comical as their ungainly bills and heavy winged flight. And when tracking through the forest under growth, you should watch out for the red throated alethe, a much localized bird with a distinctive blue-white eyebrow.

Chimpanzee trekking Nyungwe
The population chimpanzees in Rwanda is about 500 individuals and thought to be confined to Nyungwe national park including a small community in the Cyamudongo Forest. During the rainy season, a troop of chimpanzees often moves into Uwinka and the colored trail as well, and it is up to the tourist to decide whether to pay extra to track them.
You may be able to hear chimpanzees before you see them; from somewhere deep in the forest, an excited hooting, just one voice at first, then several, rising in volume before stopping abruptly or fading away. Unlike most other primates, chimpanzees don’t live in troops, but instead form extended communities of up to a hundred individuals, which move around the forest in small mobile sub groups that often revolve around a few close family members like brothers, mothers and daughters. Male chimps normally spend their entire life within the community in which they were born, where as females are likely to migrate into a neighboring community at some point after reaching adolescence.

Accommodation facilities
There are guest houses at either side of the park on the main road. In Kitabi (on the Butare side) the guest house is situated in the school of wildlife management. Coming from Butare take the left turn marked 'tea factory' about 200m before the park entrance. There is then a right turn about 500m further on, this is the guest house. The reception is is l'Hoests monkey house. Rooms are 6'000 - 14'000Francs (there is a student discount available if you have student ID)

Accessing Nyungwe Park
The main entrance is at Uwinka on the main Cyangugu - Butare road. It's about 55km from Cyangugu and 90km from Butare. The road is mostly in good condition. There are regular buses along the route and hitching is also an option. Buses are often full when the reach here so if you're getting a bus out it may be best to try and book your ticket in advance.
If traveling from Cyangugu ignore the sign in town that says it's 20km and further ignore the sign 15km from Cyangugu directing you right up a dirt track. These refer to a small off shoot of the park, not the park proper.

Rwanda Best of Africa Vacation - 14 Days

Rwanda: the best Africa Vacation holiday encopassing savanna and raiforest.  On this trip you you will see the animals of the savannahs (elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, leopard) and up to 15 primate species, including gorillas and chimps!!!  Visit all important and well known national parks of Rwanda: Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Lake Kivu.

DAY TO DAY PROGRAM

Day 1: Kigali
Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport for your African trip, you will be met by our safari guide and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Step Town Motel/Kigali Serena Hotel/Mille Collines Hotel

Day 2: Akagera National Park
After breakfast we drive to Akagera National Park. On our way we enjoy the beautiful landscape and rural way of life of the local people. Akagera National Park in Eastern Rwanda is Rwanda's only Savannah national park the drive is approximately 2 and a half hours, check into your accommodation. After lunch you will go out for an evening game drive to search for animals like the African Elephants, Masai giraffes, Antelopes, Zebras, Buffaloes, gazelles, Impala, Baboons, Oribi, Burchell’s zebra, Topi, Bush baby, Leopard, Bushbuck and so many others. Dinner and overnight at Akagera Game Lodge/ Umbrella Pine/Dereva Hotel

Day 3: Game drive and boat trip
After breakfast, you will go for the early morning game drive which will reward you with views of wildlife such as elephants, impala, oribi, bushbuck, antelope, zebra, cape eland, giraffe, buffalo, and if you are lucky visitor you may come across a spotted hyena, lion or leopard. Return to the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon, there will a canoe ride on Lake Ihema. This will reward you with views of water loving animals like Hippos, out-sized crocodiles and water birds like the papyrus Gonolek, shoebill stork and African fish eagle. Dinner and overnight at Akagera Game Lodge/ Umbrella Pine/Dereva Hotel

Day 4: Kigali
Game drive in the morning. Picnic lunch at the top of Mount Mutumba (1,825 meters) with stunning panoramic views of the park. Transfer to Kigali afterwards.
Overnight at Step Town Motel/Kigali Serena Hotel/Mille Collines Hotel

Day 5: Nyungwe Forest
This morning you will transfer to Nyungwe Forest with a stop over at Butare (Huye) where to visit the Rwanda National Museum and Nyanza Hill. Afterwards continue on to Nyungwe Forest.
Dinner and overnight Gisakura Guest House/Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel/Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 6: Nyungwe Forest National Park
Early morning Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest. Optional walk to the waterfall or visit to the Angolan Black Colobus monkeys (both activities optional).
Nyungwe Forest is East Africa's largest forests, with 13 monkey species, including chimpanzees, Angolan Black Colobus, Mona Monkey and Owl Faced Monkeys.
Dinner and overnight Gisakura Guest House/Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel/Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 7: Nyungwe Forest National Park
This morning after breakfast you have a few options of activities to choose from note that it is only one activitiy included. If you choose to do more than one activity then you will have to pay for it. Activities include; a nature walk or bird watching, primate walk, canopy walk or the waterfall trail (one activity included).
Dinner and overnight Gisakura Guest House/Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel/Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 8: Kibuye (Lake Kivu)
Today after breakfast we drive to the Bugarama hot springs (the largest and biggest natural spring in Rwanda) via Cyamudongo Natural Forest. It is possible to take a warm bath in the hot springs (optional). Afterwards we drive to River Rusizi for a boat trip with lunch and drinks. Drive to Kibuye town.
Overnight Bethanie hotel / Moriah Hills

Day 9: Gisenyi (Lake Kivu)
Relax at the lodge or at the shores of scenic Lake Kivu. It is also possible to make a walk along the lake's shores. Afterwards drive to Gisenyi.
Overnight Ubumwe Hotel/Lake Kivu Serena hotel

Day 10: Volcanoes National Park
Relax at the beach in the morning, go for a nature walk along the shore or visit Bugarama hot springs. In the afternoon we drive to the Volcanoes National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is a unique jungle, with many primate species, including the endemic Golden Monkeys. Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga Mountains, covering Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, and one of the two places in the world where you can find Mountain Gorillas!
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn

Day 11: Gorilla tracking
Your gorilla tracking day today starts with an early morning breakfast, transfer to the park for a gorilla tracking briefing from the park guides, with your ranger guide you will set out on a gorilla tracking experience searching for one of the world's most interesting and endangered animals, the Mountain Gorilla! You will spend one hour with the mountain gorillas. An experience you will never forget.
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn
Volcanoes National Park is a unique jungle, with many monkey species, including the endemic Golden Monkeys. Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga Mountains, covering Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, and one of the two places in the world where you can find Mountain Gorillas!
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn

Day 12: Volcanoes National Park
Optional activities for today (one activity included): make a nature walk in the national park, visit the golden monkeys, climb one of the volcanoes, or visit Diane Fossey's grave.
It is also possible to make another gorilla tracking.
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn

Day 13: Lake Ruhondo / Kigali
We drive around the lakes and visit the Musangabo viewing point. Optional nature walk around the lakes. Afterwards we drive to Kigali. It is also possible to visit the local people or the pygmies (optional).
Overnight at Step Town Motel/Kigali Serena Hotel/Mille Collines Hotel

Day 14
Kigali - Flight
Today is reserved for departure. If you have time before your departure flight it is possible to go on a city tour with possible visit of the Genocide Memorial if time allows (optional activity)

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