Not only is Nyungwe forest national park one of the oldest national parks in Rwanda but also in the entire East African region. It was declared a national reserve by the then colonial masters of Rwanda – Germans in 1903. It was later affected by poaching and deforestation which saw its size reduce tremendously. A number of animals were killed between 1958 and 1973.
However, Nyungwe forest national park regained its glory with increase in colobus monkey population by 1984. Later on, a tourism facility was established at Uwinka. This was a great step in the development of animal conservation in Nyungwe Forest national park before its destruction during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
The facility was re-established and in 2004 Nyungwe Forest National Park was officially declared a national park hence regaining its shape.
The park is located in southwestern side of Rwanda towards the border of Burundi and west of D.R. Congo. Nyungwe forest national park is close to Rusizi district in the south west and lies in the midst of lush tea plantations, towering hills and bustling trading centers.
Accessing Nyungwe Forest national park can be made possible by both air and road transport.
By air, you can use Kamembe airport. Akagera Aviation Company helicopters provide quick access to the park from Kigali International airport. The helicopters provide chartered flight services to both single and group travelers. You can as well opt for a 40 minute scheduled flight from Kigali international airport to Kamembe international airport using Rwandair.
By road, you can access Nyungwe forest national park using the Huye-Cyangugu road which is about 225km from Kigali international airport.
Nyungwe forest national park is famous for its rich biodiversity. The park supports 1,068 plant species, 322 bird species, 75 mammal species and 13 primate species. Travelers who visit Nyungwe forest national park have a lot to see thus the choice is always in their hands.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the few areas in East Africa from where one can find chimpanzee. It is thus a reliable destination for the lovers of chimpanzees. These human-like creatures are common around Gisakura sector. The park has only two habituated families of chimpanzees, one at Cyamudongo fragmented area and the other at Uwinka sector.
Tourists are given a full hour in the presence of chimpanzees upon encountering them during chimpanzee trekking.
One out of four of Africa’s primates find their being in Nyungwe Forest national park among which include the magical Colobus monkeys. Visiting the park gives you an opportunity of taking a memorable picture with these great primates. You enjoy them as they jump from tree to tree in search of what to put in their stomachs.
This is yet another mesmerizing activity that is common at Nyungwe Forest National Park. You walk on top of the forest and get to enjoy scenic views of landscape and other neighboring features. You also discover different tree and bird species
Nyungwe forest national park is officially recognized as an Important Bird Area in East Africa. The park has over 300 bird species on record. Walking through the forests of Nyungwe is not an easy activity but it is worth the effort since it introduces you to several and unique bird species among which include; crowned hornbill, long-crested eagle, eastern mountain greenbul, chinspot batis, Albertine owlet, red-collared babbler, dusky crimson, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, to mention but a few.
Nyungwe forest national park offers one of the best hiking and walking experiences that help visitors explore different parts of the park. The walks give way to primate and bird watching opportunities.
The park is made up of several trails which make hiking and walking a magnificent experience and these include; Congo-Nile divide trail, Igishishigi trail, Karamba trail, Umugote trail, Umoyove trail, Uwinka trail, Irebero trail, Isumo trail, Imbaraga trail, Kamiranzovu trail, Ngabwe trail and Rukuzi trail.
Nyungwe Forest National park is open to all travelers I terms of accommodation. Its accommodation areas range from budget to midrange to luxury depending on one’s choice.
Some of the areas include; Nyungwe Nziza Ecologde, One & only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Top view Hill Lodge, Rwiza Village Guest House, Gisakura guesthouse, etc.
Nyungwe Forest national park is open to visitors all year round, however, the best time to visit is during the dry months of June – September since this is the time when most of the activities that happen within the forest become easier.