Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest national Park is one of the oldest and best-preserved forests in Africa. This primal forest is an absolute wonderland brought to life. Butterflies swarm the orchids, and birds chatter in the trees. The playful monkeys and elusive cats all create the perfect wilderness adventure. At one point, you’ll look around and wonder if you’ve stepped into a movie or a fairytale. With great guides, rich scents and amazing sights, you will fall in love with one of Africa’s most ancient forests.
Best Time To Go
June – September
Average Safari Cost
$300-$800 pp/day. Park fee: $40-$300
Chimpanzee and other primate tracking, canopy walks, nature walks, great hiking trails, Isumo waterfall and 300 species of birds.
Why Visit Nyungwe Forest National Park
- Price: $90
- Maximum 8 people per group
This ancient forest is home to a large population of chimpanzees. Tracking these primates through the breathtaking tropical forest is guaranteed to be an exciting experience. You will set out early in the morning, so you should expect a full day of hiking and exploring this beautiful landscape, while tracking the chimps through the trees and foliage.
- Price: $60
In Nyungwe, you can track any primate you want – from the L’Hoest monkey, to the Ruwenzori colobus and the grey-cheeked Mangabeys. The guides are excellent, and they know all the best places to find whichever primate species you are interested in.
- Price: $60
- No children under 6 years, and all children should be accompanied by an adult
Nyungwe Forest has the first canopy walk in East Africa. This tree top forest canopy walk is 50m high and 90m long. It offers a spectacular view of the rainforest and you can see many primate and bird species up close. We recommend that you bring a raincoat along, as weather can be unpredictable in the rainforest. Alternatively, before you set on your canopy walk, you can rent a raincoat, as well as waterproof boots and a walking stick.
- Price: $50
Nyungwe Forest boasts over 300 species of birds, 27 of which are Albertine Rift endemics. You can expect to see Rwenzori Turaco as well as the large Blue Turaco. The nature walks, hiking trails and canopy walk all ensure that you will have an excellent birdwatching experience.
- Price: $40
Walking through the forest offers a great wildlife and birdwatching. The main attraction in the forest is, of course the primates. However, keep an eye out for the elusive cats, and enjoy the bird-song and the beautiful sight of butterflies fluttering over orchids. Nature is at its best here, so take a deep breath and let it soak into your soul.
There are 13 hiking trails in the forest – they can last from 4 hours to three days. Hiking through this stunning landscape offers the perfect opportunity to explore – not just the forest, but also your limits. Remember though: don’t choose a trail that is too far outside of your fitness level.
This 17m waterfall is the largest in Nyungwe. Watching the water shoot through fronds and flowers, as mist rises all around, is a mesmerizing sight. Several primates and birds have made this hidden wonderland their home, and beautiful wildflowers such as deep pink jewelweed and fragrant white begonias, further add to the magic of this secluded African paradise.
Remember, no matter which activity you choose, it is important to carry a waterproof backpack filled with essentials such as plenty of water, snacks, basic first aid kit (if you don’t have one, it might be a good idea to get one), sunscreen, insect repellent, waterproof jacket and pants, and of course, your camera with extra batteries.
Pros And Cons
- Great chimpanzee trekking
- You can track any of the 13 primates that are present
- The canopy walk is spectacular
- Great nature walks and the hiking trails are amazing too
- Stunning landscape, including Isumo waterfall
- Other wildlife is more elusive and harder to spot
- Can get very busy from June – September
Best Time To Go
Dry season: June – September; December – February
Wet season: October – November; March – May
Nyungwe Forest, like the rest of Rwanda, is an all-year destination. However, the best time to visit is in the drier months – especially for primate trekking through the rainforest. Drier weather makes trails easier, and with less humidity, the visit with be much more comfortable.
For more information when to visit see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Start your African Adventure
Adventure in Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe National Park lies in southwest Rwanda, partly abutting the Burundi border. This vast area of mountain rainforest is home to many species of chimpanzees, plus owl-faced and colobus monkeys. The Canopy Walkway, part of the Igishigishigi Trail, is a high suspension bridge with views over the valley and surrounding forests. A trail runs to the Kamiranzovu Marsh, with its birdlife, orchids and waterfall. “Come Fall in Love with Africa with those who Know It Better”
This incredible 7-day adventure in Rwanda offers the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters. You’ll track chimpanzees and spot monkeys, baboons and other wildlife in Nyungwe National Park. Trekking deep into the forests of Parc National des Volcans, you’ll search for endangered mountain gorillas with expert local rangers. You’ll also have an opportunity to explore Kigali and its colourful markets, cross Nyungwe’s Canopy Walkway and kayak on Lake Kivu.
Wildlife and Birds
Nyungwe is well known for its amazing primate tracking. Tracking chimpanzees through their forest habitat is the most popular activity in the park, although there are 14 other primate species that you can track as well. These species include grey-cheeked Mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkey and troops of up to 300 colobus monkeys.
There are other mammals in the park too, of course, but they are rarely seen. Other mammals include big cats (such as leopard, the golden cat and serval), as well duiker and bush bigs.
- Grey-cheeked Mangabey
- Ruwenzori Colobus monkey
- L’Hoest monkey
- Owl-faced monkey
- Mona monkey
- Silver monkey
- Angola Colobus
- Hamlyn’s monkey
- Red-tailed monkey
- Dent’s mona monkey
- Vervet monkey
- Olive baboon
- Golden monkey
- Golden cat
- Wild cat
- Side-striped jackal
- African civet
- Fronted duiker
- Giant forest hog
- Bush pigs
With over 300 species and 27 Albertine Rift endemics, the birdwatching checklist in Nyungwe is fantastic. The challenge however, will be finding them all in this huge, dense forest. The park has a canopy walk that is situated at 50m above ground, ensuring an easier birdwatching experience. If you prefer to be on the ground instead, the walking tour guides are amazing and will know just where to look for the best birding specials. The most notable bird here is the Great-blue Turaco, although the Rwenzori Turaco and Grauer’s Warbler are also present.
Endangered BirdsFor a complete list of endangered birds see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Endemic And Nearendemic Birds
- Grauer’s Rush Warbler
- Red-collared Mountain Babbler
- Rwenzori Turaco
- Great-blue Turaco
- Purple-breasted Sunbird
- Blue-headed Sunbird
- Giant Hornbills
- Red-breasted Sparrow Hawks
Getting There and Safety
The main entry point into Rwanda is Kigali International Airport, located 10km (6 miles) from Kigali, the capital. In the southwest Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is located near the town of Cyangug, which is roughly 225km (140 miles) from Kigali (4-5 hour drive). You can get to the park by road or air.
If you decide to travel by road, you can do it by bus, or you can hire a car. We do recommend that you hire a car, as taking bus would be longer and less comfortable. Hiring a car will cost you between $100 - $300, depending on the amount of people in your group and the type of car you are hiring.
Travelling by air will be faster, but also more expensive. RwandaAir offers flights to Kamembe International Airport from Kigali. The airport is only 32km (20 miles) from Nyungwe Forest lodge. If you can afford it, the lodge offers helicopter pickups from the airport.
If you are visiting as part of an organized safari, your tour operator will handle all of these arrangement as part of your safari package.
For the flights to Rwanda, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you to Rwanda and their various ticket costs.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Rwanda.
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Rwanda.
For more information about visas see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Rwanda. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.
For more information about vaccinations see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
The guides will give you safety precautions, and you should always follow them. It is a long way off the ground though (50m high) – if you have a problem with heights, it may be best to skip this activity.
Children under the age of 6 years are no allowed on the canopy walk, and all children need ne accompanied by an adult at all times.