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.
Nyungwe Forest holds within it one of the sources of the longest river in Africa, the Nile.
There are 25 endemic out of a total of 280 bird species in Nyungwe, which makes it one of the most undiscovered bird-watching destinations in Africa.
The avian highlight of Nyungwe is the great blue turaco; an outlandish blue, red and green bird that streams from tree to tree like a procession of psychedelic colour. Serval cats have also been spotted in the park, adding to the minor carnivore population.
Nyungwe Forest is where chimpanzee trekking takes place, with over 400 individual chimps and 2 habituated families that guests can observe while out of hiking excursions.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge has an impressive view overlooking the forest canopy from a ridge on one side and a tea-plantation on the other. Nyungwe Forest Lodge effortlessly combines 5 Star service with African hospitality, ensuring a guest experience rich in local culture and history.
Nyungwe Top View Hotel is conveniently located 5 minutes' drive off a main road, up a steep dirt path, and set on top of a hill with views across numerous tea plantations, and the Congo mountains in the distance. Closely situated to the headquarters of Nyungwe National Park, it provides ease of access to chimpanzee trekking.
Gisakura Guest House is located in 2km outside the Nyungwe National Park, in close proximity to the Gisakura Tea Estate. The accommodation at is constructed of several stone bungalows containing bedrooms and shared bathrooms.
All Rwanda safaris begin in the capital city, Kigali. The Kigali International Airport is the only airport that receives flights from South Africa (OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg), while Kamembe International Airport in Rwanda’s Western Province only receives flights from Uganda, Tanzania and the DRC.
The safari locations within the country can be reached via light air transfers from Kigali landing at local airstrips.
Sun Safaris will arrange flights for their guests from OR Tambo to Kigali, or guests will fly to Nairobi, Kenya, and then to Kigali depending on prior arrangements. Guests will spend a night at a hotel in Kigali before catching a scheduled flight to their safari destination. Once having arrived at the local airstrip, guests will connect with a road transfer to their booked accommodation
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.
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.