Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, to the south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. This national park is Rwanda’s most important area of biodiversity is rated the highest priority for forest conservation in Africa. Covering over 1000 square kilometers, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity.
Nyungwe is an ideal destination for lovers of primates, with 13 different species living here, and most visitors will go for at least one tracking experience, the most popular of which is chimpanzee trekking. Starting very early in the morning, chimps are tracked in groups of eight and as with the mountain gorillas, visitors have just one hour in their company once they’ve been located.
Sightings aren’t as reliable or as clear as gorillas however, since they often remain in dense forest, but their engaging playfulness and human-like characteristics make the long day worthwhile.
While chimps tend to attract most of the spotlight in Nyungwe, sightings of habituated troops of other monkeys – Angolan colobus (troops of which number up to 400), Dent’s monkey (a local race of blue monkey) and grey-cheeked mangabeys (the last two often seen together) – are virtually guaranteed on guided walks. Other monkey possibilities include l’Hoest’s and diademed monkeys, Olive baboons, vervet monkeys, while owl-faced monkeys and possibly golden monkeys.
In addition to primates, some other resident mammals include the marsh mongooses, Congo clawless, giant forest hogs, bush pigs and duikers. Rainforest squirrels are also spotted frequently and include giant forest, montane sun and Boehm’s bush squirrels. The nocturnal mammals are rare to come across, but if you get the lucky jackal, civet and genet are also inhabitants of the area.
At the end of the day, the real highlight of Nyungwe often turns out to be the simple beauty of the forest. Hikes along well-maintained trails head over the the lush, green valleys of the rainforest and pass through enormous stands of hardwoods, up to waterfalls and through large marshes.
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