Nyungwe Forest National Park is found in the South-Western part of Rwanda and it boarders Rwanda with Burundi in the South. It has Lake Kivu and Democratic Republic of Congo to the West, covers an average area of about 1020 square Km and it is on an elevation of 1600 – 2950m above sea level. The park receives rain of about 2000mm annually and has a number of 1000 species of creation all in all. This fabulous National Park was declared a forest reserve by the German government back in 1903, but due to human activity like wood cutting, poaching and bush burning around 1958 – 1973, the park reduced but still had a large population of some animals like elephants. Unfortunately, The last buffalo of the park was killed in 1974. Following the various research made to revive the park, vast populations of the Colobus Monkeys living in groups of up to 400 members were recorded in 1980s, though things continued to be worse for the park, as most of the built up tourists and research centers in the park were demolished during the 1994 genocide that claimed almost half a million Rwandan citizens. In 1995, shortly after the genocide, work to restore the befallen park began and by the fall of 2005, the forest was declared a National Park and a highly protected area by the Government of Rwanda. This park can be visited on a Safari to Rwanda, or a Uganda Safari as well.
Some of the Activities around Nyungwe Forest National Park:
Due to the high costs of Gorilla Trekking Permits in Rwanda – (US$1500) , most of the guests revert to Chimpanzee tracking safaris which are mostly done in at this park. It’s the most famous activity around the park. The tracking starts off from three reception centers in the park i.e. Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakuna. Tourists meet guides and park rangers as early as 4:30 and at 5am for a briefing about the activity; they are then driven to the starting point of the trek into the forest to start their tracking adventure. After some few hours of walking looking for these awesome primates, Visitors mostly have an hour with these human-like primates, studying their behavior that makes them man’s closest relatives sharing at least 98.7% of the DNA. They are watched as they communicate with each other through deafening screams, loud hoots and hitting the tree barks. It’s just a memorable experience, not to be missed. They have bigger habituated groups with about 60 individuals and sometimes, these primates are very hard to find for they are not so habituated and are even shy. The human instincts in them are so strong and they show a lot of curiosity when they see the guests around.
Tracking permits are at US$100, with over 64 issued in Rwanda though only 8 people are allowed to track per day making early bookings a key.
This extra ordinary tropical forest is also shelters a fabulous 200m canopy walk way that will give guests an excitement they can hardly be compared to anything else. The distance to the canopy can only take 2 hours from the starting point at Uwinka visitor Center. The walk can start at different times i.e. 8:00am or 10:00am, 7:00pm or 3:00pm. A liter of drinking water, hiking boots, a rain Jacket, Cameras + battery packs, Small back pack bag and a walking stick are some of the items a canopy hiker will need for the hike. Viewing the canopy on arrival can be very frightening most especially for hikers that are fear heights, for this bridge, adjourned between the very huge trees is suspended 60m above the forest floor. The canopy walk is the most preferred activity for the park and it brings together the freshness in the air, the wonderful aerial view of the trees and the sights of the fantastic birds that fly across as one enjoys the walk. Since its opening in 2010, it has seen its way as only one of its kind in East Africa and the third on the whole African continent. It also gives a unique face to face encounter with the butterflies and the monkeys.
The canopy walk charges an extra US$20 on the original trail price but it makes a Safari to Rwanda an experience to undertake.