Nyungwe Forest National Park

 Nyungwe Forest National Park is situated in the South Western part of Rwanda. It is bordered by the Rwanda-Burundi border in the South. Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of Congo lie on the west side of the park. It covers an area about 1020 sq.km and has an elevation of 1600-2950m above sea level. This vast unspoilt rain forest receives an annual 2000mm of rain. Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest remaining tract of montane rainforest in East Africa; Nyungwe extends for 1,015km2over the mountainous southwest of Rwanda.

How to reach Nyungwe

Cyamudongo is a recent annex to the park and is about an hour’s drive from the Gisakura reception center located outside the main boundaries of Nyungwe. This forest is a 19 sq.km fragment of the rainforest, which survived because it was too steep for cultivation and surrounded by tea plantations and eucalyptus groves with modest homesteads and shops perched on steep hillsides. From the main road out of Nyungwe, Cyamudongo is reached by a rough and dirt track and it requires 4-4 car. About 11 km long at the Shagasha tea estate and village, a sidetrack is taken to the park. While there you will meet with teams of trackers and rangers who follow the trekkers during daylight hours to help and protect them. They usually have a radio communication with the guides so that tourists can be led to chimps by the most efficient route.

You can book a flight with Rwanda Air, the airline offers a private flight, and one of its favorite routes is Kigali-Kamembe. The airline is active the whole week from Kigali to Kamembe International airport. Kamembe is 49km  1 hour drive to  Nyungwe forest lodge.

Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe

There are two groups of Chimpanzees that are being habituated in Nyungwe national park: one found at Uwinka and other big group found at Cyamudongo as fragmented forest. Chimpanzees trekking in Cyamudongo forest distance, altitude gain and estimated time will depend on where the chimpanzees are located and the terrain of the forest area being trekked. The round trip walk for the chimpanzee trekking of this hike takes about 4.2km with a total altitude gain of about 240m. This represented roughly an hour of walking and three hours of looking through treetops mainly to look out for chimps, monkeys and birds.

Bird watching in Nyungwe

Nyungwe forest has over 310 bird species 27 Albertine rift endemics part of the species that are established in the forests of the Albertine Rift Endemics, of which three are (red-collared, Rockefeller’s sunbird and Albertine owlet) are unregistered elsewhere on the eastern side of the Albertine rift. Bird watching at Nyungwe is good since the vegetation is good for birds and many birds are usually seen at the canopy. Of the 27 Albertine Rift Endemics found in Nyungwe Forest National Park are the Ruwenzori Turaco, handsome francolin, red-faced woodland warbler, collared apalis, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, mountain masked apalis, Ruwenzori batis and regal sunbird.

 

 

Commonly Visited Gorilla Destinations

Bwindi Impenetrable national park a large primeval forest located in the South Western part of Uganda is a home to over half the worlds 1,000 mountain gorillas.

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Bwindi Impenetrable national park

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Bwindi Impenetrable National park is found in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district. It covers an area of 332kms. When we talk of gorillas in Uganda, we talk of Bwindi and this is Africa’s oldest rainforest, it hides much more than just gorillas but more other wild animals but when gorilla tracking became an activity it made it even more appealing. Bwindi is commonly known for its 400 endangered gorillas with many families, Batwa trails, the Batwa are the first and last forest people who anciently lived in the forest for a long time also known as hunters, gatherers and fierce warriors and 350 bird species. Buhoma as one of the gates apart from gorillas it’s the right place for bird watching.

ACTIVITIES
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is found in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district, when we talk of gorillas we talk of Bwindi, but it not being the only activity, Bwindi has a variety of activities all incredibly good and as Gorilla Trips Africa here are some of the activities

Gorilla Tracking
Gorillas in Bwindi are habituated making them less dangerous and this is one of great activity done, the tour guides guide tourists through the forest on their way to track gorillas, gorillas act more like humans which keeps you wondering about God’s will, you can interact with them offer them yellows and even can have pictures with them creating memorable moments. Bwindi has a number of gates for example Buhoma gate with three gorilla  groups habituated, Nkuringo gate with two groups , Ruhija with four groups of gorillas habituated, and Rushaga with the most habituated groups and others are still under habituation with six groups

Gorilla Habituation Experience
During habituation Gorillas are tamed to be more of human, not to be dangerous around people, tour guides will take you through the process they go through while habituating the gorillas, it’s a terrifying experience but worth to go through and this is so because the gorillas are not yet fully habituated, this is most popular at Rushaga gate it being with the large gorilla habituation

Batwa Trail
Experience the ancient life of Batwa people. The Batwa trail is a celebration of the forest first people and still they are the last forest people who are also known as hunters, gatherers and fierce warriors. When you get a chance to see them you can see the forest in their lives and all through their eyes, this trail is guided by the Batwa guides who provide insights into their traditional forest life and culture. It runs  from the lower slopes of the muhavura and Gahinga volcanoes and ends in the Batwa community, throughout the trail you will be surprised all through for example showing you how incredibly  they made fire using friction of sticks, having a taste of the wild berries which they used to eat before going to hunter, seeing the huts the built using the tree leaves lastly after reaching the Batwa community you will get the unforgettable performance of your life since the Batwa are well known for their music and dance.

Nature Walks
Tourists who have a short time for nature walk usually do it near river Munyanga and river Ivy on the way you get an opportunity to see baboons, monkeys and birds. And if you continue to the Batwa pygmy community you will be surprised by the energetic dance of the Batwa, you will meet woman making craft giving you and opportunity to buy craft from the Batwa. Nature walk to the Mubwindi swamp is the right spot for the birders and if you use the path of the forest descending through the majestic rainforest it will give you great scenery of the green nature. Amazingly the name Bwindi came from Mubwindi swamp.

Bird watching
Bwindi is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda the pearl of Africa, it being the oldest forest in Uganda surely means it’s the ideal habitat for the variety of bird species, Bwindi is estimated to have around 350 bird species for example Jameson’s Antpecker, pink-footed puff back, Waller, crested Guinea fowl, Barred long-tailed cuckoo, Grey crowned crane, White headed saw wing and so many more. Migratory birds are present from November to April and if you want the main spot for bird watching is along Buhoma waterfalls trails.

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Mgahinga Gorilla national park

MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is in the southwestern corner of Uganda, located in Kisoro district although the volcanoes stretch to the far parts of Rwanda and DRC. Mgahinga National Park was gazzetted in 1991 despite it being declared an area of game sanctuary in the early 1930s by the British Administration and it covers 33.9 square kilometers. As the name “Mgahinga” suggests, the park was mainly established to protect gorillas that inhabit the depth of the forest, other than that the park has a significance to culture “the Batwa culture”. Most importantly Mgahinga National Park has great features which are the beautiful extinct volcanoes, a great fauna, primates which include mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, bird species include handsome francoin, red throated alethe, Rwenzori batis, collared apalis, mountain masked apails, stripe-breasted tit, blue- headed sunbird, strange weaver, red –faced woodland warber, regal sunbird, Rwenzori turaco among others.

Top Activities Done At Mgahinga National Park

Gorilla Trekking

Mgahinga National Park is the right place for gorilla trekking and that’s so because it has half of the world’s Gorillas thus making it the most popular activity done at Mgahinga, it has one habituated gorilla family called “Nyakagezi Gorilla family” and this family at times moves to the parts of Rwanda and DRC. Gorilla trekking at Mgahinga usually starts from 8:30 in the morning and it takes 3-8 hours, trackers take visitor through the routes to the place they had left Gorillas a day before and that’s where they begin the trekking from, Gorillas are habituated making them less dangerous to humans. All in all Gorillas trekking is best done in dry seasons because it makes the hikes easier for tourists.

Golden Monkey Trekking

Mgahinga National Park is the best place for Golden Monkey trekking and it’s among the most interesting activities done for primate safari, the estimated number of golden monkeys at Mgahinga is 3000-4000. If you participate in this activity you will have an excitement of your life time since it offers you an opportunity to view, take pictures of the monkeys before heading back to the lodges.

Volcano Hiking

At Mgahinga Gorilla National Park despite Gorilla trekking visitors have an opportunity for hikes to the summit of Mountain Muhabura which requires more than one day to hike it but still tourists who prefer a one day hike can opt Gahinga trail aa their best and this takes 6 hours. During this hikes you will come across various bird species, also have a view of the famous extinct volcanoes.

Batwa Trail

Batwa are also known as the forest people. While at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Batwa trail begins from the Muhavura cave with the Batwa guides who will give you an insight of their ancient life and culture in the forests where they lived in harmony with the gorillas. Batwa people lived as hunter-gatherers, built houses using tree leaves but later they were displaced from the park although some are still with in the park taking part in tourism as tour guides and others as porters.

Bird Watching

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the ideal place for birders because its blessed and enriched with over 180 bird species all unique in one way or the other and these birds can be spotted in the wetland areas , forests, Buffalo wall among others. These unique bird species include Rwenzori turaco, regal sunbird, strange weaver, mountain masked apails, stripe-breasted tit, handsome francoin, red throated alethe, collared apalis among others.

Garama Cave Exploration

Beneath a plateau northern edge of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park you will come across the great Garama Cave lying on the length of 342meters and this believed to have been used as a retreat and council for the Batwa where they met to solve conflicts and problems among Batwa members.

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Volcanoes national park

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park also referred to as Parc National des Volcano in French and Pariki y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga in Kinyarwanda local language. The park is situated in the north-western province of Rwanda in a small town called Musanze formerly Ruhengeri.

The park is the oldest national park in the African continent and harbors the endangered Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda. Gorilla tracking is Rwanda’s main tourism activity. Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in DRC and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south-western Uganda. Besides its huge population of Mountain Gorillas, it also harbors the endangered Golden Monkeys, primate specie that apparently offers the best diverse tourism activity within the national park at the moment.

Volcanoes National Park also shelters five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga massifs which are: Mount Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo: covering over 160 km2 of rain forest and bamboo. The park acted as a base for American zoologist Dian Fossey.

Fauna of the forest in addition to endangered species of mountain gorilla includes: golden monkeys, buffaloes, black-fronted duiker, hyenas then bushbucks. A few reports also clam that a small number of elephants can be found at the park but on very rare occasions. The bird life spans at 178 species, with about 12 of the main species and 15 of the subspecies being endemic to the Virunga conservation area and the great Ruwenzori Mountains.

The Volcanoes National Park is one of the three other only habitats for Mountain gorillas on the planet and the only possible destinations for Mountain gorilla trekking expeditions in Rwanda. The rainforests are at a higher altitude and temperatures are generally lowest in the African region. The tropical sun brings with it effects of heat, evaporation of vapor and rain forming. In Volcanoes National Park, it rains at any time regardless of the season. Factor is the volcanic soils that are fertile and very rich in plant mineral content, resulting in an evergreen rain forest; some parts have bamboo trees, small patches of shrubs and grassland areas, swamp and wetland vegetation in the valleys, and heath on the tips of the volcanoes. These are the ideal conditions for the survival and the existence of the Mountain gorillas and other unique wildlife species.

Mammal species

Volcanoes National Park is a rich ecosystem, a habitat with vibrant and unique mammal species. Mountain gorillas and Golden monkeys are most recognized than other wildlife species because the Virunga volcanoes region is their only habitat on earth. There is high mammal presence in the park, though harder to spot because of hilly and rugged terrain, coupled with  a thick and enclosed rainforest. The mammals in such habitat adapt to a solitary or pair lifestyle, shy away from intruders and are very aggressive if cornered. Save for rare physical encounters, there are signs that indeed show Forest elephants, buffaloes, bushpigs, bushbucks, giant forest hogs, spotted hyenas, bushbucks, duikers, vervet and colobus monkeys and other primate species reside in the park. Volcanoes National Park is very popular as a Rwanda gorilla trek and Golden monkey tracking destination. There are other Rwanda travel destinations to easily spot and have maximum interaction with the rest of mammal species.

Predominant activities include:

Gorilla tracking, Golden Monkey tracking, twin lakes visit, mountaineering, visiting Dian Fossey’s tomb, Iby’Iwacu cultural village and other community visits.

Rwanda is an exciting destination with a number of national parks in addition to the famous Volcanoes national park; say the Akagera and Nyungwe national parks plus Lake Kivu for water excursion.