5 Days Nyungwe Forest Tour

Safari overview

5 Days Nyungwe Forest Tour : Nyungwe National Park is one of the 3 existing national park in Rwanda and home to the chimpanzees. It’s the best destination for primates’ tours especially the Chimpanzees. Nyungwe forest one of the largest remaining montane forest in Africa and has been in existence since the Ice Age period. It is also believed by some researchers that it is one of the sources of River Nile because of the alternating hilly, mountainous and flat terrains in the forest. Nyungwe forest national park started as a forest reserve in 1903 before it was fully recognised as national park in 2004. Nyungwe forest national park covers an area of about 970 square kilometres and is located in south western part of Rwanda in a town called Cyangungu near Lake Kivu and the border of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nyungwe national park has about 400 individual chimpanzees that living in the park and about only 2 groups have been habituated. Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest national park is a daily activity that takes place every day of the year for persons from 16 years and above. Chimpanzee tracking experience requires booking a tracking permit in advance at least 3 months before your travel as permits are very competitive and limited. One needs to plan their experience early, you need to stay around the park a day before your activity. In the morning you head to the park head office for a briefing about the activity. After the briefing, you will be guided by experienced guides into the forest to search for habituated groups found in the Uwinka and Cyamudongo sections of the park. You need to prepare for chimpanzee tracking because the activity is demanding following that the primates are so mobile and do not follow the main trails but rather walk in thick untouched forest. However, once they settle down, visitors get a chance to spot the primates sitting on top of the trees, feeding and grooming. After watching the dynamic chimpanzees, you will be allowed to stay with them for about 1 hour and get to know them for a while, you will be surprised by how much they behave. One has to be physically and mentally prepared for chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest in order to have the best experience, visitors should be dresses in the right trekking gears such as long sleeve shirts and pants, hiking boots, a hat, a rain jacket, a walking stick and binoculars for spotting the chimps on top of trees. Do not forget to pack bottled drinking water and light snack to renew your energies. In order to have a comfortable time tracking the chimpanzees. You are recommended to hire the services of a porter to help carry any extra heavy luggage and equipment. A chimpanzee trekking permit costs $90 and can be got directly from the Rwanda Development Board or by using the services of a good tour operator to get you one. However, note that chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest is quite challenging because it takes longer hours before finding the chimpanzees. This puts Kibale forest national park of Uganda at an advantage over Nyungwe forest national park as it has a 99% of seeing the chimpanzees and there are over 5000 individual chimpanzees. Other primates visitors come to see include the Angola Colobus Monkeys, Dent’s Mona Monkeys, Grey Cheeked Mangabeys, Hamlyn’s Monkeys, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Olive Baboon, Red tailed Monkeys, Silver Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, White and Black and Colobus monkeys.

Nyungwe forest is arguably the best place to go for bird watching in Rwanda. According to Birdlife International, Nyungwe National Park has over 300 bird species of which 27 can only be found in the Albertine region. The top bird species to look out for  while walking through the established tails in the forest are the Archer’s Robin Chat, Barred long Tailed Cuckoo, Blue Turaco, Chapin’s flycatcher, Doherty’s Bush Shrikes, grey-chested kakamega, Handsome Francolin, Lagden’s Bush Shrikes, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Pockefellers’s sun bird, Purple Throated Sunbird, Red collared mountain Babbler, Rwenzori Double Collared Warbler, Rwenzori Nightjah, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Batis, White Bellied Robin chat, White Tailed Flycatcher and the Yellow Eyed Black Flycatcher.

Nyungwe forest national Park canopy walk is the best ever experience in East Africa, it is the only national park where nature lovers can go for a true canopy walk. The canopy walk starts at the Uwinka Visitors Center and goes through a hanging platform that is about 45 meters above the ground.  From these heights, visitors get spectacular views of the rain-forest, animals and birds. The canopy walk is very exciting and adventurous, however, scary for those with a fear of heights.

Safari highlights

Day 1: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park

Day 2: Chimpanzee tracking and canopy walk

Day 3: Colobus Monkey tracking and water fall visit

Day 4: Birdwatching experience in Nyungwe forest

Day 5: Drive back to Kigali – Departure

Detailed safari

3 Days Nyungwe Forest Tour

Day 1: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park

Depending on your location in Kigali, you will be picked up by your Rwanda safari driver and transfer to Nyungwe forest National park. You will have a stopover in Butare, where you will visit the national museum of Rwanda, the king’s palace in Nyanza with lunch en route. Proceed to the park and connect to your booked accommodation for relaxation, dinner and overnight at Gisakura Visitor Centre for budget/Nyungwe Top Hill View Hotel for mid-range/One and Only Nyungwe Hotel for luxury

Day 2: Chimpanzee tracking and canopy walk 

Enjoy breakfast and go for a briefing about the endangered chimpanzees before entering the forest in search of the active and playful fellows in the Nyungwe forest. The Chimpanzees are not quite easier to spot as they jump from one tree to another, chattering and laughing. Chimpanzee tracking usually takes about 3-5 hours. On finding them, spend an hour while taking pictures and videos.

5 Days Nyungwe Forest Tour
Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe National Park

After lunch, you will go on a walking trail that will take you to the Canopy Walk-a swing bridge 50 meters in length that is suspended from large trees. You will be able to see the amazing rainforest with a bird’s eye view, spotting wildlife moving about below you thereafter connect to your accommodation to spend the evening at leisure. You will then return to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 3: Colobus Monkey tracking and Isumo trail waterfall walk

On the 3rd day of your 5 Days Nyungwe Forest Tour, after breakfast follow the same procedure as of chimpanzee tracking, receive a briefing then enter the forest to search for the colobus monkey. These primates are quite different to spot as they keep jumping from tree to tree however, the park rangers will do their best to help you get the best view of the primates. This will take 2-5 hours and on finding them, you will be allowed to spend an hour in their presence.

Connect to visit Nyungwe’s biggest waterfalls on Isumo trail. This is one of the most refreshing experience with sights of different birds and some primates. The walk is approximately 4 hours walking up and down the Nyungwe forest. Thereafter, return to your hotel for relaxation and good memories. Dinner and overnight stay at lodge as above

Day 4: Birdwatching experience in Nyungwe forest

On the 4th day of your 5 Days Nyungwe Forest Tour, after breakfast at the lodge, drive back to the park for a Nyungwe bird watching experience, you will be led by your ranger guide for the birding experience at the different trails of the park. Later afternoon, you visit tea plantations before your return to the hotel. Dinner and overnight stay at lodge as above

5 Days Nyungwe Forest Tour
Birdwatching experience in Nyungwe forest

Day 5: Drive back to Kigali 

After breakfast, meet your guide and drive back to Kigali en-route lunch, proceed to Kigali and you will be dropped off at a location you advise. End of the trip

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