Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest national park
Nyungwe Forest national park is home to 25% of all of Africa’s primates, including a large population of chimpanzees, which produce the national park’s main attraction: chimpanzee trekking. Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and covers an area just under 1000 sq km of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. Along with its biodiversity, Nyungwe is an important water catchment for Rwanda and contains many natural resources integral to Rwanda’s human populations.
The Albertine Rift forms the epicentre of Africa’s montane rainforest circle. It is dominated by a series of mountain chains, originating on the Lendu Plateau in northern Uganda and Congo, running south through the Rwenzori Mountains, western Rwanda and Burundi, to some isolated massifs on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The Albertine Rift eco-region is one of Africa’s most endemic rich regions.
What to see and do
Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, making it a priority for conservation in Africa. The forest is situated in a region where several large-scale bio-geographical zones meet and provide a great span of micro-habitats for many different species of plants and animals. The park contains 13 different primate species, over 300 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. The forest, which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000m above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees and Angola colobus, which is now extinct in Angola due to hunting. A population of around 400 chimpanzees, 2 troups of which are habituated to human contact. Hiking in the beautiful reserve and encountering these chimps is what draws most visitors to the area. There is also an extensive network of forest hikes from park headquarters, including a very high and dramatic suspension bridge.
seasons and climate
The country of Rwanda is at a high elevation level, the lowest lying areas estimated at about 900m above sea level. The mountainous topography, particularly in the gorilla trekking areas, means that the altitude can reach up to 3000m.
The elevation, combined with Rwanda’s proximity to the equator allows the country to experience quite a tropical climate with temperatures remaining fairly constant throughout the year. Average temperatures are at mid to low 20s (degrees Celsius).
Rainfall defines the seasons in Rwanda. There is a ‘long rainy season’ that lasts from March until May, during which time the rain is heavy and persistent. June to September brings the ‘long dry season’, which maintains some cloud cover and might bring rare, light showers. The short rains follow in October and November before a short dry spell returns from December to February.
The best time for a gorilla trekking safari is in the dry seasons when the hiking conditions are ideal.