Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest National Park

Extending to cover land area of about 1000sq.kms in the Southern Province of Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is one splendid destination every enthusiastic primate lover shouldn’t miss to visit. The park is largely covered by a vast tropical rain-forest and lies within Cyangugu Town just close to Lake Kivu. Nyungwe also lies close to Rwanda border with DR Congo and Burundi.

Nyungwe Forest National Park also remains among the recently established parks in East Africa. It has existed as a national park since 2004 when it was created and lies between elevation ranges of 1600-2950m. From Kigali capital up to Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park it is approximately 6 hours’ drive.


In 1903, Nyungwe was gazetted as a forest reserve before up-grading into a national park in 2004. Between 1958 and 1973, Nyungwe occupied only 150sq.kms of land area and reduction in its size is attributed to deforestation and fire outbreak. This also led to poaching of elephants plus buffaloes in 1975.

In 1984, the population of colobus monkeys increased within Nyungwe Forest National Park. Around Uwinka, some research facilities were also put up but unfortunately, they got destroyed when the 1994 Rwanda genocide began. It was until 1995 when such facilities were restored and later, in 2004 Nyungwe was created as a national park.



Nyungwe Forest National Park is a rich biodiverse protected area in Rwanda and East-Central Africa. If you love primate tours, then you have a thousand reasons to consider Nyungwe your bucket-list destination. The park harbors over 13 primate species and these include Silver monkeys, Vervet monkeys, Bush babies, Angola colobus monkeys, Dent’s Mona monkeys, Hamlyn’s monkeys, 500 chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys.

Other than primates, Nyungwe Forest also shelters a significant number of reptiles, amphibians, 120 butterfly species, beautiful waterfalls like Isumo and Kamiranzovu falls.


Nyungwe Forest National Park is an established conservation area with estimated bird population of about 310 making it one most sought-after birding destination. Of the park’s 310 bird species, about 27 are Albertine endemic species.

The birds to search for while on bird watching tour in Nyungwe include yellow eyed back flycatcher, Lagden’s bush shrikes, grey chested kakamega, blue headed sunbirds, blue turacos, Doherty’s bush shrike, red collared mountain babblers, mountain sooty boubou, chestnut throated, Rwenzori batis, Neumann’s short tailed warblers.

Chimpanzee tracking safaris.

Nyungwe is mostly visited by safari goers for chimpanzee tracking. Chimp trekking experiences in this park is done in any of the 2 communities in Uwinka and Cyamudongo sections of Nyungwe Forest National Park. Chimpanzee tracking safari briefing begins early in the morning and actual trek starts at 8:00am.

Chimp tracking rules and regulations to expect to be briefed on include observing a distance of 8-10m, observe the standard one hour of face-to-face encounter with chimpanzees. A valid chimpanzee safari permits are must to carry on chimp trek, use a good camera but free from a flashlight.

Nyungwe chimpanzee trekking permits are issued to safari goers at US Dollars 100. The permits can be purchased by a reputable tour operator or via Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Reserving chimpanzee permits is part of planning process for chimp trekking safari in Nyungwe National Park.

Canopy walk experience.

Nyungwe is incredibly a unique place in East Africa where the first of its kind canopy walk has been introduced. This begins from Uwinka reception of Nyungwe and takes visitors through a 200m walkway that is 45m suspended from the ground.

When to visit?

If you plan to get to Nyungwe Forest National Park, the dry and wet seasons are 2 useful seasons every safari goer must put into consideration. The drier months are the best when it comes to Nyungwe safaris especially if you are interested in chimpanzee tracking. In this case, the drier months range from June to September and another phase begins from December to February. However, safaris to Nyungwe aren’t restricted to only dry season because it is possible to plan a trip to this park even during the rest of wet or rainy months.

Where to stay?

Safari goers on Nyungwe holiday can book budget, mid-range and luxury lodging options in and around the park for overnight stay. Budget/backpacker’s lodging options include Gisakura Hostel, mid-range/moderate options include Nyungwe Nziza Eco-Lodge, while luxury/up-market choices include Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel and One & Only Nyungwe House.

How to reach Nyungwe for Rwanda holiday?

Road transportation: Nyungwe Forest National Park lies within the Southern Province of Rwanda. Getting here by road is approximately, 5-6 hours’ drive.

Using air transportation; flight services are available for safari goers from Kigali International Airport up to Kamembe Airport. There is also possibility to take helicopter trip from Kigali Airport and land around One & Only Nyungwe and House of Nyungwe Forest.

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