NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK
N yungwe forest covers 970 km˛ and has a unique habitat and it is found with in the Albertine rift.. The Albertine rift forms the epicentre of Africa's montane rainforest circle. It's Eco-region is one of Africa's most endemic rich regions dominated by a series of mountain chains, originating on the Lendu Plateau in northern Uganda and Congo, running south through the Rwenzori Mountains, western Rwanda and Burundi, to some isolated massifs on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
It is recently when Nyungwe just received the status of National Park and became the largest protected high-altitude rainforest of East Africa. It was particularly important to protect the forest reserve when you know that the highest population endemic pressures in Africa are to be found within the Albertine rift and that the forest is the biggest water reservoir for the country.
This is the only place where we have seen troops of more than 300 colobus monkeys travelling in the trees. The park has 25 % of the primates of Africa with its 13 recorded primate species. It's a primate paradise!
The forest has 300 species of birds with 27 Albertine rift endemic and 121 forest species. A combination of 200 species of trees and more than 100 species of orchids! The park has an extensive network of walking trails that leads you through various waterfalls and viewing points. Nyungwe offers scenic views over the forest, lake Kivu and sometimes also the Virunga.
The primates species include': Den't mona monkey (C.mona denti), Rwenzori colobus (colobus angolensis), silver monkey (c.mitis doggetti), golden monkey (C.mitis kandti), chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), owl-faced monkey (C.hamlyni), l'Hoest's monkey (C.l'hoesti ),red-tailed monkey (C.ascanius), vervet monkey (C.aetiops), olive baboon (papio anubis), grey-cheeked mangabey (Cercocebus albigena) and three species of bushbaby.
However, one mark that distinguishes colobus monkeys from other primates is that they do not have thumbs. "Colobus" comes from the Greek word meaning, "mutilated one." Scientists believe that the absence of thumbs is an adaptation to help the monkeys travel through the trees.
Another characteristic that makes them well-suited to tree travel is their long "legs" and short "arms." When travelling among the trees, the monkeys use the branches like trampolines. They jump up and down on the branches, getting as high as 15 metres in the air. As they leap across to other branches their mantle and tail act as a parachute. Even their dietary preferences make it easier for them to spend all their time in the trees. The colobus eat about 3 kg of leaves in the morning and evening, and spend the rest of the day grooming and sleeping.
Highlights: High-altitude rainforest, primates, bird watching and hiking. Distance: 225 km from Kigali, 90 km from Butare and 54 km from Cyangungu. Opinion: Nyungwe National Park is a great Eco-tourist site with a particular interest for all those who would like to experience a high altitude rainforest, to see other primates than gorillas or chimpanzees, or have interest in bird watching. Hikers will also love Nyungwe with the nice hiking trails and splendid views. A good physical condition is advisable if you want to enjoy fully the forest.
If you compare Nyungwe forest with Kibale Forest (Uganda) one can say that the Kibale is a moist, mid-altitude forest with excellent chimp viewing. Nyungwe forest is a high-altitude forest and offers a better experience with the colobus monkeys and other primates. Chimps in Nyungwe NP are not yet so habituated as in Kibale NP. Weather: Nyungwe lies on an elevation between 1.700 meters and 2.950 meters. The highlands are relatively cool with abundant rainfall.