If you are looking for a weekend getaway in Rwanda with your older teens and 20 somethings, Nyungwe Forest is the trip for you. Today, we bring you the itinerary of a Kigali family who recently gave the adventure a go. Thank you to Dan, and his parents John and Pam, for sharing their trip with us.
If you enjoy exploring beautiful scenery and incredible wildlife on foot with your family, Nyungwe is an enticing part of Rwanda that shouldn't be missed.
Nyungwe is located in southwestern Rwanda at the border with Burundi. The Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and covers roughly 970 km squared of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps and bogs. It is hailed as one of the best preserved montane rainforests in Central Africa. To reach it, we drove via Kibuye and along Lake Kivu. The road is tarmacked and smooth, offering great views across the lake.
Once there, we spent out first afternoon exploring the local tea plantations. Nyungwe Forest is surrounded by tea plantations, as the temperate climate and fertile volcanic soil here are good for tea plant growth. Tea is one of Rwanda's largest exports, so it was great to look around the fields and see the farmers. The scenery is also great, with luscious green tea plants covering the rolling mountains into the horizon.
On our second day, we went chimpanzee trekking in the forest. Chimpanzee trekking here is $80, but there is no time limit like the one-hour given to tourists who go mountain gorilla trekking. In Nyungwe forest, you can spend as much time with the chimpanzees as long as you can keep up with them. We started our trek at 7am, spending roughly 6 hours in the forest.
While tracking chimpanzees, other primates can also be spotted. You may have the chance to spot the Colobus monkey, the Silver monkey, Golden monkey, Red-tailed monkey, Vervet monkey, Grey-tailed mangabey and the Olive baboon. There are also 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species in the forest, so stay on the look out.
On our third and last day, we did the Nyungwe canopy walk. This is a tree top walk 50 metres above the forest floor. We could see monkeys move at the top of the trees below and the birds flying above whilst also taking in the amazing view across the forest. The canopy walk is 90m long, but we also got a chance to see other species whilst on the forest trail to the canopy.
On the way back to Kigali, it's worth going via Huye to stop by the Ethnographic Museum there. It is one of the six museums that make up the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda and houses one of Africa's finest ethnographic collections. The collections on display include historical, ethnographic, artistic and archaeological artefacts.