Be prepared to enter a landscape that time forgot – envision tree-sized ferns, mist shrouding the landscape and haunting calls of wildlife from the forest. Located in Southwestern Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a closed-canopy rainforest and home to 13 species of primates, including, most famously, a robust population of chimpanzees. Nyungwe is also the largest single forest block in Africa, one of the last high-altitude primary forests, and one of the largest mountainous rainforest on the entire continent. Biodiversity here is astonishing and it is one of the most endemic species-rich areas in all of Africa. Nyungwe is a protected reserve for many species of primates such as the Ruwenzori colobus monkey, chimpanzee, owl faced monkey and grey cheeked mangabey. These forests are home to 300 bird and 75 mammal types, includes the gorgeous Rwenzi Turaco, black-fronted duiker antelope, leopards, servals, and porcupines. There is even talk of reintroducing forest elephant into the park as Rwanda continues to establish itself as a world class safari destination.
Nyungwe is great for active travelers interested in chimpanzee trekking, colobus monkey and mangabey trekking, the Kamiranzovu swamp, waterfall walks, and many, many more guided hiking trails. In fact over a few days in the area, it’s ideal to mix primate viewing with Nyungwe’s excellent hiking opportunities offering spectacular views and a variety of hikes suitable to all fitness levels. Note that chimpanzee trekking is fast paced, steep and can be more physically challenging than gorilla trekking, as chimpanzees are in the canopy and on the move much more. One of the Nyungwe’s highlights is the Canopy Walk which is suspended 130 feet above ground and provides stunning birds eye views over the lush forest.
Nyungwe is roughly 5 hours by car from Kigali (3.5 from Volcanoes National Park) and guests most often stay at Nyungwe House. The park is surrounded by tea plantations and making time to visit one and learn about tea is an interesting bonus activity when in Nyungwe.
Our favorite accommodation in Nyungwe
One&Only Nyungwe House
Other areas to trek for primates
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