Quite simply, Nyungwe Forest National Park is Rwanda’s most important area of biodiversity. It has been rated the highest priority for forest conservation in Africa and its protected area covers one of the oldest rainforests in Africa. Despite its huge biodiversity, Nyungwe is little known outside of East Africa and remains overlooked by many tourists. This is a shame as the park offers some superb hiking and the chance to track chimpanzees that have been habituated to human visits.
Hiking through equatorial rainforest in search of our closest genetic cousin is an unparalleled experience that more than a few people rate above tracking the far more docile mountain gorillas. However, of the four big-name chimpanzee parks in East Africa (in addition to Nyungwe these are Kibale Forest in Uganda and Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream in Tanzania), the apes of Nyungwe are far and away the most timid.
While chimps tend to garner most of the spotlight in Nyungwe, the park’s second billing is a habituated troop of around 400 Angolan colobus monkeys, the largest group of arboreal primates in all of Africa. But for many, though, the real highlight of Nyungwe often turns out to be the simple pleasure of hiking for hours along well-maintained trails over the the lush, green valleys of the rainforest and passing through enormous stands of hardwoods up to waterfalls and through large marshes.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is sliced in two by the Huye–Cyangugu road. Visitors can access the park through either the Uwinka Reception Centre or the Gisakura Booking Office, both of which lie along this road.
Prices for activities tend to fall the more times you do them. If, for example, you track chimpanzees once then you pay US$90, but if you do it for two or three days in a row you only pay US$110 in total. However, it does have to be the same activity, which means few people take advantage of this.