Nyungwe is an intact elevation forest ranging from 1600 to 2000m and these are rare in Africa. Nyungwe forest is an important forest for many species. It covers an area of 1000km2 and is the largest protected mountain rain forest with in Africa. This forest is the source of many great rivers and the rain that falls on the east side feeds the Nile and on the west side runs to Congo. This Congo Nile divides the mountain range which runs north to south through Rwanda.
Nyungwe national park management opened a canopy walk and it’s the only of its kind in East Africa, it also a wonderful vantage point which helps at viewing the beautiful biodiversity of this rare rain forest. The canopy walk was opened in Rwanda at a time when the country is being recognized as a top global travel destination by lonely planet in 2009.
Nyungwe national park was declared a highest level protected area in 2005 and as the largest rain forest in Rwanda with over 13 primate species including the Angola colobus monkeys which are found in troops of about 300 to 400 animals. This national park also hosts a large population of chimpanzees and two other species of monkeys and these include the Golden monkeys as well as owl faced monkeys.
Bird life international also stated Nyungwe forest as the most important birding site in Rwanda with 280 bird species were 25 of these are endemic . This national park extends to an altitude of 1600 -2950m above the sea level and is home to butterflies, myriad orchids, moths, and many other insects. The park is also considered as Rwanda’s primary water catchment area sheltering almost two thirds of its waters.
Nyungwe forest has got a network of hiking and walking trails. The forest has also got camping sites and cultural developmental tourism which is near the edge of the park. There are also new trails as well as camping sites that are planned and are being constructed as part of the development projects.
Nyungwe Canopy walk is approximately a 2km walk to and fro and the actual canopy walk is about 170 meters. Tourists have to walk to the starting point and then after the canopy walk, you will have to walk back again. This walk also starts with a briefing by the guide at Nyungwe National Park headquarters and then after proceed to the forest. There is also a lot to view on this walk including the primate species, birds and many tree species.
At reaching the real starting point, you will then start the hike on a trail hanging and connecting one hill to another hill. It’s also known that there are many primate species, tree species as well as birds that one can view on the canopy walk. Walking on these ropes and aluminum bars way high up is so challenging and scaring and when some visitors complete the walk, they celebrate. Along the walk, you are advised not to look down since this might scare you. What clients need to do is to concentrate, look forward and remain focused to complete the walk. This activity is such an experience that is so unique and is next to gorillas trekking.
The other activities that can be carried out in Nyungwe forest include; bird watching, chimpanzee trekking, and many more. The national park can be accessed by road and one has to drive approximately 4-5 hours or fly from Kigali and land in Kamembe Airport which takes only 35 minutes. Rwanda Air also operates scheduled flights and you might chose to fly. From Kamembe Airport, the drive time is 40 minutes to Nyungwe Forest Lodge or Nyungwe Hill top lodge which are the main accommodation facilities in the park. Early in the morning, visitors are required to drive 30 minutes to the headquarters to start any activity carried out from the park.