Nyungwe forest national park is tucked away in the middle of tea plantations in the South-western parts of Rwanda and Nyungwe forest is probably the most preserved forest in Africa and also the largest tropical afro montane rainforest in East Africa.
The Park covers an area of 970 square kilometers in the watershed between the basin of River Congo in the west and River Nile to the east. Being situated between the basins of two Rivers, the Park is thus Rwanda’s largest water catchment area being home to 2/3rds of all Rwanda’s water.
The Park’s landscape is composed of rainforests, bamboo, swamps and also Mount Bigugu is within the Park’s borders and the nearest town is Cyangugu which is situated 54 kilometers away to the west of the Park.
The Park is easy to access in either dry or wet seasons due to the good tarmac roads and the Park is a fine destination for taking your safari because besides the good roads, its accommodations where you will sleep are of super quality such as Gisakura guest house and Nyungwe top view hotel, among others.
The Park is well known for inhabiting many primates (13 primate species) including one of the world’s great apes, chimpanzees, and the major activity in the Park is chimpanzee tracking. Chimpanzee tracking is a must do activity especially after tracking the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes national park where you will not drive for so long from Volcanoes to Nyungwe.
Chimpanzees are so friendly to humans and trekkers will thus enjoy the activity because the primates will want to even come close to you due to excitement and friendship between them and humans however trekkers are not advised to accept the close intact with the primates though unaware they may want to come to you.
Trekkers are therefore advised to stand at least 7 meters away from the primates and as a reminder, trekkers are not encouraged to use flashlight cameras while taking photos because the flashlight might scare the chimps and as a result they can run and hide.
The tracking is done in groups of 6 individuals and tracking starts very early in the morning which is the best time for tracking because the animals will not have splinted yet from their nests. Therefore if you are that tourist who has or wants to spend little time in the park and utilize it accordingly, the best way is then to access the Park before 08:00am which is the actual time in the Park for chimpanzee tracking.
Though the main driving factor for Rwanda’s tourists is mountain gorilla tracking, there are many other interesting things in the country including chimpanzee tracking.
Chimpanzee tracking almost offers the same experience with gorilla trekking thus for many tourists who could not afford the increased gorilla safaris in Rwanda they can opt for chimpanzee tracking at a very cheaper price since a chimpanzee permit costs US$ 90 as compared to the gorilla permit which costs US$ 1500.
In so many ways, chimpanzee tracking is however different from gorilla tracking because chimpanzees move constantly around and at a high speed from tree to tree while making noise unlike the gorillas which are ever found sitting down in the forest clearings.
Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe starts in three reception centers such as Gisakura, Uwinka and Kitabi where trekkers will meet the expert Park rangers to accompany them while tracking. Though chimpanzees are shy creatures, but their human instincts are so strong and they show a lot of curiosity and eagerness whenever they see tourists around them.
Some of other primates in the Park include; L’Hoest’s monkeys, Vervet monkeys, silver monkeys and many more. The other famous activity in the Park is the Nyungwe canopy walk which is so special and spectacular in the Park because you will come to have close sightings with various creatures in the Park.
The canopy walk only exists in Rwanda and it is one of the reasons as to why the country has become a top tourism destination all over the world and through the canopy walk, a tourist gets an opportunity to drink in the country’s diverse scenery and the imposing landscape as he or she moves on to the main attraction.
The walk costs US$ 60 and through it you will view many primates in the Park such as; blue monkeys, black and white Colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, and many others plus numerous bird species.
Thus on your packing list as you are traveling to the Park you should not forget; light hiking boots, enough drinking water, packed food, cameras plus extra charged camera batteries for a wide gallery, walking sticks, and due to the changing climate guests are emphasized to carry some heavy clothes such as rain-coats and others.