Covering over 1000 square kilometers and filled with exciting biodiversity, nyungwe national park is located in the southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, south Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The park is situated in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. It is one of the most worlds beautiful and pristine mountain forests, believed to be one of Africans oldest forest staying green even through the ice age explaining the diversity of the rainforest, bamboo, grassland and swamps. Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species with over 13 different primate species (25% of Africa’s total), 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species.
Being a home of over 400 chimpanzees, Nyungwe forest national park is good for chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda. These chimpanzees live in families and they share 955% of human DNA making them almost like human beings. Tourists follow the trails in the forest with the help of a guide to reach where chimpanzees will be at that particular time. The endangered species feed on fruits, leaves, shoots and other edibles that the forests provide and live in groups but are very mobile as they usually move from one place to another in search for food.
Nyungwe national park is a tropical rain forest with trees that stand several meters above the ground, The forest consist of tall and old mahoganies, ebonies and giant tree ferns that form a canopy with orchid and epiphytes clinging on to the branches . these trees are not congested and make passing through easy for the tourists.
The forest has 130 kilometers of hiking trails which tourists can involve themselves with the help of the guide; they include among others the Bigugu trail that takes about 6 hours to complete. This trail is about 7 kilometers long and the trail tends to be steep and slippery at times. Tourists are required to be flexible and physically fit. Another one is Gabwe Trail, a 4.7 kilometer trail that takes about 3 hours to complete and is moderate in regards to the difficulty level.
This is done in Igishigishigi Trail and includes tourist’s walking up the tree tops with a clear view of the primates, vegetation, birds, and butterflies in their habitats and all other features in the forest. It is the most popular trail from the Ewinka reception areas of the park; the walk is about 2.4 kilometers and approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
Birding is done along the 4 kilometer long Karamba Birding Trail, the forest is a habitat for 280 bird species among which include great blue turaco, Ross’s turaco, red – breasted sparrow hawk and white – headed wood hoopoe among others. This is the most flat and open trail of the forest where much gold mining was done in the past, along the trail, tourists also get a chance to spot some orchids, giant tree ferns and dents monkeys.
It is mainly done in the kitabi cultural village near the nyungwe forest national park; tourists visit local people and participate in the local activities such as farming and preparing local foods, involve in traditional dances and songs and stay with locals to experience the real local life. These encounters make tourists feel as part of the community and they end up supporting community based projects that through which local people can improve their livelihoods and standards of living.
Nyungwe forest national park has many hotel and lodging facilities which all offer high quality services to the tourist at affordable prices,
Nyungwe among others include
Top View Hill Hotel
This is a first class hotel that offers uninterrupted view of the Nyungwe Forest, Kahuzi Biega National Park, surrounding tea plantations, Lake Kivu and Idjwi Island right from the top of the hill. The Hotel offers 12 rooms – 4 twin and 8 double-bedded guest rooms – each with a sitting room with a cosy fire place and a balcony with beautiful views of the sunrise or sunset over the surrounding areas, this ambiance adds to the total experience that a tourist gains at the end of the trip.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge
The lodge offers 20 luxury rooms (sleeping 2 persons each), 1 two bedroom suite (sleeping up to 4 persons) and 1 presidential suite with a Jacuzzi (sleeping up to 4 persons) and is situated at the edge of the park making it easy to move from the park to the hotel saving time and money.
To conclude, Nyungwe forest national park offers great opportunities mad memorable experience to the tourists through its unique natural and manmade features, the tourism activities participated in by tourists with the support of high quality food and sleeping services offered by hotels and lodges near the park. Tourists should therefore make sure not to miss out such a destination for a greater and memorable experience.