Nyungwe Forest Overview
Nyungwe rainforest is located in south-western Rwanda, at the border with Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best preserved rainforest in the mountains throughout Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east.
This forest 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.
With 225km to cover from Kigali to the Nyungwe forest, you will need a good functional car to make good time. You can either go by bus or hire a car.
By bus; you can take a bus headed to Ruzizi from Nyabugogo bus park in Kigali, get off at Uwinka Center. Travelling by bus takes a little bit longer, and the bus ride might even be 8 hours long. There are buses that drive through he park, and you could hope on those, but they are usually quite full.
By car; Hiring a car is much more comfortable, convenient and will take a much shorter time. You will avoid the hustle of travelling the difficult stretches such as stretch between Uwinka Center and Gisakura.
Hiring a car could cost you about 30,000-40,000RWF per day.
The journey by car starts in Kigali. Travelling south you will come across several towns, one of the main cities you will come across is Huye town, which is about 32km from Kigali. The road up to there is quite smooth, but has some very sharp turns so your driver should be careful. A hundred or so more kilometers and you will be in Nyungwe. It is best not to cut your time too close, especially since the drive through the park is also quite lengthy. Budget some extra time before your scheduled activity is set to start to make allowances for any unexpected stops and just in case you don’t make it in 5 hours as expected.
If you are adventurous and want to drive yourself, here are a few road directions from Kigali.
-From Kigali drive south west to Muhanga, then south to Nyanza and on to Huye town.
-From Huye drive on Westwards towards Nyamagabe, which is quite close to the Nyungwe park entrance.
Focusing on the road is good especially if you are the driver, but even then try not to get so carried away following directions to the park and forget to enjoy the journey.
There are several interesting sights along the way. If you have the time, you can make a few stops. You could stop at the Nyanza king’s palace at Nyabisindi as you drive through Nyanza. The palace is a historical landmark that has recently been reconstructed. It is a goldmine of information about Rwanda’s cultural history and Royalty in Rwanda. You could also make time along the way to take in the sights and sounds at the National museum. There is quite a lot to see there including locally made arts and crafts, and traditional entertainment-you might get to see a demonstration of the “intore” dancers. There is also the Gikongoro’s Genocide Memorial along the way.
Let yourself enjoy the journey fully, even as you try not to get lost along the way. You can make your bookings for a bus through your tour operator, or hire a car for self-drive in Kigali. Either option will get you there.
If you are looking for a much faster means of transport, then you can book a flight with RwandAir. The airline offer domestic flights and one of its domestic routes is Kigali-Kamembe. RwandAir offers a minimum of 9 flights a week from Kigali to Kamembe International airport.
Kamembe airport happens to be a short 32km from Nyungwe forest lodge, which offers helicopter pickups. It is quite a convenient arrangement if you can afford it.
Travelling to Nyungwe Forest national park shouldn’t be difficult if it well planned. An easy way to do that is hire a safari company to make the arrangements on your behalf.
- Gorilla trekking
- Primates of Nyungwe
- Nyungwe Canopy
- Walk Bird Safari