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Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda

30
Apr 2014

 NYUNGWE FOREST NATIONAL PARK

Nyungwe Forest National Park is a true rain forest and it receives 2,000 mm of rainfall annually. It is also one of the oldest forests in Africa, and that is one of the reason as to why it boasts such a high level of diversity. Nyungwe Forest National Park, along with other forests of the Albertine Rift, was unaffected by the drying up of the lowland areas during the last ice age, and therefore become a refuge for forest plants and animals.

Tourist Attractions in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Park has got trails which include the following.

Uwinka and the colored trail

Trails pass through the territory of habituated troop of 400 colobus monkeys. During the rainy season, a troop of chimpanzees often moves into this area as well, and it is up to the tourist to decide whether to pay extra to track them. You can reasonably expect to see some primates along any of the colored trails as well as a good variety of forest birds – though the latter require patience and often stops where there are open views into the canopy. Unless you opt for specific primate visit, chance will be the decisive factor in what you see, though the 2.5 km Blue Trail is regarded as especially good for primates and birds, while the 10 km Red Trail is good for chimpanzees and passes four water falls.
Birdwatchers in particular are advised to explore the main road close to the campsite, as they will probably see a wider variety of birds than from within the forest. About 500m east of the campsite, the road offers some stunning views over the frosted valleys, and passes a stand of giant lobelias.

The Waterfall Trail

This superb trail starts at the ORPTN Rest house and takes between three and six hours to cover as a round trip, depending on how often you stop and whether you drive or walk from the rest house. The first part of the trail- in essence following the road to the car park-passes through the rolling tea plantations doted with relict forest patches which are worth scanning closely for silver and other monkeys. These small stands of forest can also be rewarding for birds; keen ornithologists might well want to take them slowly, and could perhaps view this session view this section of the trail as worthy bird watching excursion in its own right. The Trail then descends into the forest proper, following flat contour paths through a succession of tree-fern-covered ravines, and crossing several streams, before a sharp descent to the base of the pretty but small waterfall. Monkeys are often seen along the way (The Angola colobus seems to be particularly common) and the steep slopes allow good views into the canopy. This trail can be very rewarding for true forest interior birds, with a good chance of sporting of Albertine Rift endemics such as Rwenzori turaco and yellow – eyed black flycatcher.

Gisakura Tea Estate

A relict forest patch in this tea estate, only 20 minutes’ walk from the ORTPN Rest house, supports a resident troop of around 40 Rwenzori Colobus monkeys. This troop is very, far more so than the larger troop at Uwinka, and the relatively small territory the monkeys occupy makes them very easy to locate and to see clearly. Oddly, a solitary red – tailed monkey moves with the colobus, and has done so far at least six years. Some of the guides say it is treated as the leader. Other guides may tell you the odd monkey out at Gisakura is not a red-tailed but a Mona (also known as Dent’s monkey and unlikely to be observed elsewhere in east Africa) or a hybrid red-tailed / Mona. The apparent cause of this confusion is that a solitary Mona monkey does spend some of its time in the same forest parch, and the guides are unable to distinguish it from the red-tailed cousin.

Particularly in the early morning, a relict forest patch is also an excellent bird watching site, since it lies in a ravine and is encircled by a road, making it easy to deep into the canopy. Most of what you see are forest fringe or woodland species (as opposed to interior forest birds), but numerically this proved to be the most rewarding spot in Nyungwe, with some 40 species identified in an hour, notably black-throated apalis, paradise and white-tailed crested flycatcher, Chubb’s cisticola, African golden oriole, olive-green cameroptera, three types of sun bird, two greenbuls and two crimson-wings. Note that a visit to this forest patch is treated as a primate walk by the ORTPN office and a corresponding fee is charged.

Other Trails

Kamiranzovu Trail leads to a different ecosystem, a relatively low-lying marshy area rich in orchids particularly during the rainy season and localized swamp-associated bird species. This used to be the best place to see Nyungwe’s elephants, but none has been sighted here in recent years. The trail starts with a steep descent from the main tarmac road about 12 km from Uwinka and 6 km from Gisakura.
Bigugu trail leads to the 2,950 m Bigugu peak, which is the highest point in Nyungwe national park. Suitable only for the reasonably fit walkers, the trail starts about 4 km from Uwinka along the Huye the trail is clearly marked and it usually takes at least six hours to complete. For geographers a fresh water spring on mount Bigugu has further significance as possibly the most remote source of the world’s longest river.

A variety of forest birds – though the latter require patience and often stops where there are open views into the canopy. Unless you opt for specific primate visit, chance will be the decisive factor in what you see, though the 2.5 km Blue Trail is regarded as especially good for primates and birds, while the 10 km Red Trail is good for chimpanzees and passes four water falls. 
Birdwatchers in particular are advised to explore the main road close to the campsite, as they will probably see a wider variety of birds than from within the forest. About 500m east of the campsite, the road offers some stunning views over the frosted valleys, and passes a stand of giant lobelias.

 

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