NYUNGWE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
With a total area of 970 square kilometres and located 225 Km from Kigali, Nyungwe Forest National Park lies 90 Km from Butare and 54 Km from Cyangugu. It was gazetted as a national park in 2004. Nyungwe forest has an elevation range of between 1600 M-2950 M above sea level with temperatures changing between 0°C and 30° C; average day temperatures 15°C whereas rainfall is between 1800-2500 mm per year. The rainy season starts from September to May and dry season from June to August with some dry weeks in December and January.
Nyungwe Forest National Park Main Attractions and Features
1. Over 100 species of orchids and giant lobelias.
2. Largest montane rain forest remaining in Africa.
3. Mt. Bigugu (2925M)
4. Kamiranzovu marsh (13 Km²)
5. In the vicinity Cyamudongo community forest with resident population of Chimpanzees.
6. 260 species of trees and shrubs.
7. Over 275 species of birds recorded including the Ruwenzori turaco, Ross’s turaco, Grey –cheeked hornbill, Red-throated alethe, Red-breasted sparrow hawk, White-headed wood-hoopoe, Kungwe apalis, Ruwenzori batis, Blue-headed and Regal sunbirds.
The recorded species of primates which constitute 25% of all primates in Africa:-
2. Grey-cheeked mangabey
3. Olive baboon
4. Red -tailed monkey
5. Silver monkey
6. Ruwenzori colobus
7. L’Hoest’s monkey
8. Vervet monkey
9. Golden monkey
10. Owl-faced monkey
11. Den’t mona monkey
12. Three species of bush baby.
Other animals comprise of the leopard, golden cat, serval cat, side-stripped jackal, Genet, African civet, slender and the marsh mongoose which represent the carnivores. There are also three species of duikers, two species of flying squirrels, tree hyrax, and Congo clawless otter. There are over 120 species of butterflies and reptiles including three species of horned chameleons that have been recorded
Nyungwe Forest National Park Activities
Any visitor is at liberty to undertake activities within and in the surrounding areas of Nyungwe Forest National Park which include:
1. Primate trekking like the chimpanzees and visitors have to book for chimpanzee tracking in advance.
2. Bird walks.
3. Excursions to Kamiranzovu Marsh.
4. Excursions to Lake Kivu and Gisakura tea factory.
5. Scaling Mt Bigugu (2925M).
When you are going to Nyungwe, you can stop for a moment at:
1. Genocide memorial of Murambi.
2. Butare –visit the Museum, University, cathedral, arboretum and the curio worships.
3. Nyabisindu to visit the Nyanza King’s Palace, the capital of ancient Rwanda Kingdom.
4. The Cathedral of Kabgayi and the adjacent small ethnographic museum. Kamageri’s Rock (Uratare rwa Kamageri) on the roadside after Ruhango towards Gikongoro.
Accommodation around Nyungwe Forest National Park
1. Nyungwe Forest Lodge is an eco-lodge located in the tea estate overlooking Nyungwe forest. The lodge has wifi internet, TV, health club and goes for $400per person per night. One can also stay at Uwinka Rest House, Gisakura Guest House, and ORTPN campsites.
Visiting the primates can be done basing at Gisakura ORTPN headquarters and at Uwinka Tourist Centre.