A haven for primates in Africa’s largest mountain rainforest. Virtually untouched since the Ice Age, Nyungwe is a biodiversity hot spot, and an excellent destination for tracking chimps and other primates, rewarding birdwatching and hikes through the mist-cooled tropical rainforest.
In untouched Nyungwe, one of Africa’s oldest forests spreads over 1 000km2 and ranges from 1 600 to 2 950 metres in altitude. It is contiguous with Kibira National Park in neighbouring Burundi; together, the two protected areas form the largest block of montane forest in East Africa. Scientists think that this ecotourism gem even stayed green through the Ice Age, becoming a refuge for forest plants and animals – which explains the rainforest’s extraordinary biodiversity.
Nyungwe National Park boasts more than 200 different types of trees and 140 species of orchids (including eight that are endemic). The park contains numerous medicinal plants that have served as remedies for centuries, such as East African satinwood and California Bayberry. This paradise for primates is home to habituated chimpanzees and boasts two wild chimp communities that welcome guests (one in Cyamdungo and the other around Uwinka). Summer, when the trees are in full bloom, is a wonderful time for tracking these shy primates. There are 12 other primate species (including the rare L’Hoest’s monkey, owl-faced monkey and a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori black and white colobus monkeys). Other wild residents include 75 mammal species and over 300 bird species, including 16 endemic species.
An extensive network of hiking trails covering Nyungwe’s steep landscape makes it an ideal destination for novice and experienced hikers looking for both short hikes or multi-day adventures through the lush, mist-cooled tropical rainforest. These trails traverse extraordinarily diverse and scenic landscape – a lifetime bucket-list destination for active travellers. You can also bike here, or explore the rainforest from an entirely different perspective: the Canopy Walkway, hanging 60m above the forest floor between giant trees and towers, is a must-do.
Nyungwe Forest National Park