Nyungwe forest national park

Nyungwe forest national park: Rwanda is truly the ‘land of a thousand hills.’ The country’s beautiful and well terraced hills, dazzling lakes such as Lake Kivu, clean streets and friendly locals, usually leaves many visitors mesmerized by the Rwanda’s beauty. Visitors travelling to the Central African country have a lot to explore while in the country, from the busy capital city of Kigali to her national parks, one of which is Nyungwe National Park.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the four national parks that Rwanda proudly boosts of. The national park is located in the Southwestern part of Rwanda. It borders Burundi to the South, with Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West.

The national park is part of the renowned Nyungwe forest, which is considered to be the largest tropical rain forest in East and Central Africa. This forest is believed to have existed for thousands of years. The park is strategically located within the Congo River basin and also the basin of the Nile River.

Nyungwe park in Rwanda spans over a radius of 970 square kilometers. It was gazetted as a national park in 2004, and is mainly composed of rainforest, grassland, bamboo, swamps, bogs and many more.

Nyungwe forest national park is home to about 14 primate species, 300 bird species, 2000 plant species, 90 mammal species and 38 reptile species. This national park is truly gifted by nature and tourists visiting the national park have a lot to see and do while in the park.

In 1903, Nyungwe was declared a forest reserve by the German colonial Government.

Between 1958 and 1973, the total land coverage of this tropical African rainforest greatly reduced due to fire outbreaks in the forest, large scale deforestation and poaching of animals.

In 1974, the last buffaloes that inhabited Nyungwe Forest were killed by poachers.

In 2004, Nyungwe  National Park was first established as a national park following the ranking of Rwanda as one of the top 10 tourist destinations on Lonely Planet.

However in 2005, Nyungwe Forest National Park was declared as a protected area and it is during this time that tourist visits to the national park increased.

The main attraction in the national park are its chimpanzees. Nyungwe national park inhabits a total of 1000 species that are located in the middle of a tea plantation, with the Cyamudongo forest being the most favorable trekking site for tourists. Other stunning attractions in the national park include the Canopy walkway, Isumo waterfalls, and golden monkeys.

Activities carried out in Nyungwe National Park.

Chimpanzee Tracking;

Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to 25% of all primate species in Africa with majority of its chimpanzees being habituated. Tracking chimpanzees in the make one of the highlights of a visit to the national park and there are about 500 individuals living within Nyungwe Forest National Park.

A chimpanzee tracking permit in Nyungwe National Park costs USD 60 dollars per person and the activities lasts between 2- 6 hours. Tracking begins at exactly 8 am from three major points which are; Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakura.

Visitors interesting in chimpanzee trekking activities in Nyungwe national park should endeavor to be at the park by 5am for registration and a briefing from the head ranger in the park.

chimp trekking in nyungwe forest national park

Hiking to Isumo waterfalls:

Tourists visiting Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda can enjoy a guided hike to the renowned Isumo waterfalls. The falls are 17 meters high and give tourists great views of some caves and even Kamiranzovu swamp. Some hiking trails will offer a tourist chance to see snakes, birds, butterflies wildflowers and unique tree and plant species.

There are hiking trails that begin at car park 1 and car park 2 which may be shorter hiking routes as compared to other head trails in the national park.

Other activities that tourists can partake in while visiting Nyungwe Forest National Park include; Congo Nile guided hike which is a 3 day hiking expedition; and camping in the forest.

Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk:

The forest canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park was introduced in October 2010 as a new tourism product in the park. The canopy walkway extends 200 feet above the forest floor and is 90 meters long.

The Nyungwe Forest canopy walk begins at Uwinka headquarters and lasts 2 hours. It will cost USD 60 dollars per person for those who want to take part in this activity. The canopy walk also allows tourists to explore the higher forest canopy with beautiful views of the forest’s landscape.


The national park is home to over 300 bird species that tourists can sight such as; Archer’s Robin Chat, the Strange weaver, Chapin’s Fly catcher and Rockefeller’s sunbird amongst others. Birding in Nyungwe national park costs USD 50 per person per day.

Forest hiking:

Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda is a hiking paradise. With a total of 13 hiking trails, hiking expeditions in the forest can last between 1- 8 hours and costs USD 40 dollars.

Other activities available for visitors in Nyungwe forest national park include; the hiking the Congo Nile Trail, golden monkey tracking and camping.

nyungwe forest national park nature walks

Where to stay in Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda.

Visiting looking to spend a longer period of time in Nyungwe national park can find accommodation in the following facilities; Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Gisakura Guest House, Nyungwe Top View Hotel, One & Only Nyungwe House, and Nyungwe Nziza Eco Lodge among others.

When best visit Nyungwe National Park.

The best time for visitors to visit Nyungwe national park is during the dry season which are between December-February and from June- August. However, you can always pay a visit to this amazing national park at any time of the year.

Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda.

Nyungwe Forest National Park can be accessed by either road or air. The national park is located in Butare district near Cyangugu town in the Southwestern part of Rwanda. it takes about 4-5 hours of driving from Kigali to Nyungwe, covering a total distance of 225km. alternatively, visitors travelling to the national park by private means can hire a car or board a bus to the park’s visitor centers in Uwinka Center or Gisakura. Visitors can hire a car from Kigali City at a fee of USD 32 to USD 50 dollars.

The national park can also be accessed by air from Kigali International Airport. Visitors can board domestic flights from Kigali to Kamembe International Airport, which serves the towns of Kamembe and Cyangugu in Rwanda. From the airport in Kamembe, visitors can proceed to drive 32 kilometers to Nyungwe national park. Alternatively, visitors with a bigger budget can hire a helicopter and fly to the park. Akagera Aviation offers chartered flights for tourists travelling to any of the national parks in the country.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is a place to be for those who love nature and the park offers great activities that a visitor can do along with friends and families.

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