Nyungwe Forest National Park
The Nyungwe National Forest Park, founded in 2004, is located in the south-west corner of Rwanda. Consisting mostly of thick mountain rainforest, this area covers over 1000km². In fact, Nyungwe is one of the oldest forests in Africa, even surviving the ice age.
The forest consists of a range of tree varieties but ancient mahoganies, tree ferns, and ebonies dominate, towering high up into the sky. While walking through the forest, expect to find plenty of magnificent butterfly species and a multitude of different birds. Tread carefully, however, the forest floor is lined with colourful orchids and other exotic plants.
Although the forest is truly stunning, its inhabitants are the real stars. Nyungwe is home to 13 different primates including a number of wild chimpanzee troops. Others include colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Blue, Silver and Gold monkeys as well as Vervet monkeys to name but a few. In fact, over a quarter of all the primate species found in Africa actually live in Nyungwe.
Activities in Nyungwe are plentiful and diverse. Many tourists visit the forest to see the primates and the wild chimpanzees in particular. An early morning guided trekking tour is probably the best way to find them, particularly as they are very active at the start of the day. They do, however, tend to stay deep within the forest so it takes some effort to reach them. Trekking is also offered for other primates including grey-cheeked mangabey and colobus monkeys. Some other monkey species can often be viewed far easier as they move throughout the forest, often in plain sight.
Other activities include a canopy walk set high above the forest (excellent for an idea of the sheer size of Nyungwe), hiking trails and birding (there are over 310 species living here, including hornbills, turacos and sparrow hawks).