Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Nyungwe forest, recently known for its great canopy walk and primates has featured greatly in our safari itineraries as most of our clients, has given us great feedback from doing their visit with us on this forest.

Therefore, for visitors interested in primate’s safaris other than gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda, we greatly recommend this forest. In case you’re also interested in canopy walk, hiking and much more adventure activity that would burn your energy, this is the place you deserve to be. Lots of trails exist for you to exercise around. Your interested in bird life, here comes the bird paradise.

About Nyungwe Forest

The Nyungwe rainforest is located in southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, to the south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of the Nile sources that greatly supply the area with fresh water.

Wildlife in the Nyungwe forest

Covering an area of approximately 970 km2 of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs, Nyungwe Forest National Park is Rwanda’s most important area of biodiversity, with no fewer than 1000 plant species, 13 species of primates, 75 species of other mammals, at least 275 species of birds this makes it to be a birder paradise and an astounding 120 species of butterflies. It has been rated the highest priority for forest conservation in Africa and its protected area covers one of the oldest rainforests in Africa. Despite its huge biodiversity, Nyungwe is little known outside of East Africa, but is a great fort with over 1000 different biodiversity of much kind of species.

Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, making it a priority for conservation in Africa and number one rainforest in Rwanda. The forest is situated in a region in which several large-scale biogeographically zones meet and the variety of terrestrial biomes provides a great span of microhabitats for many different species of plants and animals.

Many of these animals are restricted-range species that are only found in the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion in Africa. In fact, the number of endemic species found here is greater than in any other forest in the Albertine Rift Mountains that has been surveyed. The forest, which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis), the latter now extinct in Angola for the intense hunt to which they were subjected.


In 1903, Nyungwe was declared a forest reserve by the German colonial government with restrictions on clearing. This status was maintained by the Begins after World War I. Protection was not consistently enforced.

From 1958-1973, Nyungwe was reduced by over 150 km² due to fires, woodcutting, hunting of animals, and small-scale agriculture. Nearby Gishwati and Virunga forests were cut in half at this time. In 1969, elephants still numbered in the hundreds in Nyungwe. In 1974, the last buffalo was killed in Nyungwe by hunters.

In 1984, Nyungwe was divided into areas that allow for sustainable use and harvesting of timber. The Government of Rwanda develops a plan for a buffer zone that can still be seen today. In 1984, biodiversity surveys conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) with RDB documented colobus in groups of up to 400 members—an unheard of phenomenon. In 1987, development of the trail system began at Uwinka.

In 1994, war and genocide devastated the country and destroyed many of the research and tourist facilities in Uwinka. Most senior staff were forced to flee, but many junior staff members at Nyungwe stayed on to protect the park. The park began to rebuild in 1995, but security and stability were still uncertain. In 1999, the last elephant in Nyungwe was killed in the swamp by poachers.

In 2004, the Rwandan Government makes Nyungwe an official National Park, giving it protected status, the highest level of protection in the country.

Primates in the forest

The 13 primates which can easily be sited on your primate safari tour in the forest either during trekking, or nature walks includes; Common chimpanzee, Angola colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, Silver monkey, Golden monkey, Hamlyn’s monkey, Red-tailed monkey, Dent’s mona monkey, Vervet monkey, Olive baboon, and Grey-cheeked mangabey. Having an estimated 500 chimpanzees.

Number of waterfalls does exist within this great rainforest park of Nyungwe which could give you a stunning environment on your visit.

Quite a number of tourism activities can be undertaken here on your visit to this great might forest during your safari. Some of the activities include.

  • Canopy walk
  • Primate trekking
  • Hiking through the trail
  • Biking safaris
  • Tea estate visit
  • Walking safari
  • Bird watching
  • Butterfly watching
  • Nature walks
  • Community visit.
  • Camping

Having received official national-park status in 2004 and a great deal of support from the World Conservation Society, Nyungwe Forest National Park is now setting its sights on becoming one of East Africa’s leading ecotourism destinations.

Community projects around Nyungwe

  • Revenue Sharing and Outreach projects
  • Bee-Keeping Associations
  • Handicraft Associations
  • Rural Electrification Project
  • Community Tourism Project
  • Community Tourist Lodge Project
  • Energy Efficient Stoves

Handicrafts and beverages purchased by tourists create local income and the Rwanda Development Board gives a portion of park revenue to surrounding communities, who help protect the forest.


In case you’re interested to visit to visit Nyungwe forest, do not look elsewhere further, Rwanda Eco Company and Safari, can organize and plan for you something that will be of your interest as you would want it. Just send us an inquiry we shall get back to your shortly with your requested.

In a nutshell, Nyungwe forest park is ideal for short visits and is very ideal for watching primates, birds, nature walks and hiking.

How to get to Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Given the status of a national park in 2004 by the government of Rwanda with an effort to strike tourism in this area, Nyungwe forest has gained a remarkable boost in the number of visitors who intend to visit this great rain forest for quite a number of activities such as the canopy walk, primate trekking, nature walk, walking safaris, hiking to mention a few which is quite stunning here.

The drive from Kigali is straightforward – the only turn is a right at a small sign just before Butare.

The main entrance is at Uwinka on the main Cyangugu – Butare road. It’s about 55km from Cyangugu and 90km from Butare. The road is mostly in good condition, paved the whole way, but the potholes start from Butare and get worse and worse as you go west through the park. There are regular public buses along the route and hitching is also an option but we advise you to take a car hire from a tour operator who will aid you easily and give you a good security and comfort as you will be in safe hands. Buses are often full when the reach here so if you’re getting a bus out it may be best to try and book your ticket in advance in case you insist to take a public means.

If traveling from Cyangugu ignore the sign in town that says it’s 20km and further ignore the sign 15km from Cyangugu directing you right up a dirt track. These refer to a small off shoot of the park, not the park proper. You could take the Cyangugu bus all the way to the Gitarama visitor centre.

For any more information, do not hesitate to contact us via info@rwandaecocompany.com we are right there at your service. Our reservation team can do all possible arrangements for your memorable visit at Nyungwe forest to see that all your activities are arranged for

Lake Kivu

The true adventure capital for Rwanda of Rwanda. Situated between Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe forest National Park lies one of the great lakes of East Africa, situated between Congo (Kinshasa) to the west and Rwanda to the East. Lying at 4,790 feet (1,460 m) above sea level, it occupies 1,040 square miles (2,700 square km) and is 55 miles (90 km) long (north-south) and 30 miles wide (east-west). From an average depth of 722 feet (220 m), it plunges to a maximum of 1,558 feet (475 m).

This lake is truly any adventure area to relax your tired legs after gorilla trekking or after a forest nature walk at Nyungwe forest.

Blessed with numerous islands, this has made a boat trip in Lake Kivu, such a lovely one as you take a boat ride to visit these wonderful islands hidden within the heart of this great lake. It is a beautiful place where the color of sea and sky are often so close that it is impossible to discern a horizon.

A visit at Gisenyi, a site at showers of Lake Kivu, will color your evening stay as, you feast on the fish caught fresh by the night fishermen. When you so happen to be there on a safari on Monday, you will have an experience of landing yourself on a market day were homegrown bananas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, chard, and small, silvery fish called sambaza that made deliciously salty snacks when fried. The sambaza were caught by the night fishermen who paddled out just before sunset every day, chanting and singing to keep their oars in sync until they found their spot and shone flashlights on the water to attract the bugs that attracted the fish. Women carried loads of laundry on their heads from the village down to one of several beaches to wash in the lake, and on the same beaches, teenagers bathed in raucous groups. This would be an exciting experience as you mix with the local and see their day to day life.

Lake Kivu is full of promise for Rwanda’s future, as it has started to draw thousands and thousands of tourists, who visit the lake for water spot adventure, or to seat at the hotels and relax as they watch local fishermen do their job in the late afternoon as you gaze at the sun as it disappears.


Here, visitors can relax, swim, or take a boat excursion past the small lakeside villages that offer a rewarding glimpse of rural life. The towns are connected by a wide roller-coaster road that tumbles through lush plantain fields and relic patches of misty rainforest to offer sweeping views over the shimmering lake.

Due to its past dirty history of being a dumping ground for dead bodies of victims of genocide, many tourists takes their time to come and visit this great lake.

The beaches at Gisenyi, has also attracted a number of local tourists especially on holidays and weekend, who do come his to enjoy beach life.

Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi) is a waterfront town located on the shores of Lake Kivu, one Africa’s great bodies of water. At only an hour away from Volcanoes National Park, Rubavu is a great way to unwind after trekking adventures. Some hotels have private beaches and water sport options.

Rubavu marks the beginning of the Congo Nile Trail, which extends 227 km to Rusizi, and has plenty of biking and hiking trails to fulfill those who crave the some more adventure. Rubavu is also known for its agrotourism experiences, with many tea and coffee plantations nearby.

Driving north from Gisenyi (Rubavu), the Imbabazi Orphanage founded by American Rosamund Halsey Carr, is a beautiful memorial to a remarkable lady. On returning to Rwanda after the genocide at the age of 82, she transformed her ransacked house into an orphanage for survivors and over 400 orphans have since called this place home. Sitting among colourful gardens, the house looks like an English country cottage, complete with an aging Labrador. Imbabazi is planning to develop a cultural centre in Carr’s memory and runs a variety of projects for local people, continuing to support its former orphans. Your driver/guide will need to contact the orphanage beforehand should you like to visit.

Kibuye (Karongi)

About 100km south of Gisenyi, Kibuye (also known by its new name Karongi) is probably the prettiest of Lake Kivu’s towns. It’s a verdant, tropical spot surrounded by hills covered in eucalyptus and pine. If you’re visiting in August, you may catch thousands of yellow-billed kites here flying over Lake Kivu on their annual migration. Most of Kibuye’s hotels are in beautiful locations overlooking the lake and facing the sunset.

From Kibuye (Karongi) you can take boat trips on Lake Kivu to nearby islands: Napoleon Island with its colony of fruit bats and Amahoro Island (aptly known as “One bar island” because all it has on it is one bar).

It’s also possible to visit Kibuye’s genocide memorial church, with brightly coloured stained-glass windows, in a quiet location on a hill above Lake Kivu. Despite a tragic history, it’s a place for peaceful contemplation.

If you’re looking for a fun outdoors activity, try kayaking on Lake Kivu or canoeing near the gorillas, this will total kill your boredom and color your evening.

On Lake Kivu, short excursions from Gisenyi and Kibuye as well as full-day and overnight journeys that are an exciting way to discover some of the most spectacular scenery island within this great lake. And near Musanze, in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes, you can spend a morning or afternoon canoeing though some of the most beautiful countryside in Rwanda.

No need to worry about experience of the activity, there are several experience guides to take you through the entire activity to make your visit a memorable one.

For more information or bookings, for this to be part of your gorilla trip, do not hesitate to contact our reservation team at info@rwandaecocompany.com or visit our website at www.rwandaecocompany.com for more safari options.