Nyungwe Forest

IUCN Category II - National Park

Farming terraces stretch close to the Nyungwe Forest

The Nyungwe Forest ( Forêt de Nyungwe naturelle ) is an evergreen mountain rain forest in the southwest of Rwanda and is considered the largest contiguous mountain forest in East and Central Africa. The forest area has now been declared (2012 ) a National Park.


The Nyungwe Forest National Park extends over an area of 970 square kilometers on the western foothills of the East African rift system ( Great Rift Valley) to which the Huye heard. This also Albertine Rift called, towering up to 3,000 m rift flanks lined grave system crosses the west of Rwanda from north to south and forms the watershed between the river systems of the Nile and the Congo. Close this watershed is discovered by Richard Kandt in 1898 Source of Rukarara - Nyabarongo, who is considered one of the headwaters of the Nile ( "Source du Nil "). Opposite the Kalundura flows from Nyungwe Forest to the west in the Lake Kivu. In the park of 2950 m high Mount Bigugu is.

Vegetation and wildlife

The evergreen forest of Nyungwe differs in its floristic composition, as well as from the outer appearance, her, from lowland rain forest in the DR Congo. Forests like this in Nyungwe are referred to as height or cloud forests. From about 1500 to 1700 m, the first powerful condensation level occurs, below which the rain step is formed (precipitation of more than 2000 mm / year). The forests here are often shrouded in clouds, which is why they are often referred to in the literature as " cloud forest ", but which is the correct term cloud forest.

The biodiversity in Nyungwe Forest is remarkable. Long live there among other 75 mammal species, 310 bird species, 120 butterflies and more than 100 orchids. Many of them endemic. Among the mammals 13 primates are represented, including chimpanzees and Ruwenzori colobus monkeys.


Once the entire ridge of the Central African rift system along the Lake Kivu was overgrown with mountain rain forests. As a result of anthropogenic use since the Iron Age, these forests have been gradually reduced and thus mostly destroyed. The Nyungwe forest stands since 1933 under protection, but has since shrunk by 20 % in area. How weak is the protection as a nature reserve against the destruction, shows the fate of the Gishwati forest that exists today only on maps; yet in 1960 he was located a few miles north, in the direction of the located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu Goma. Since 2005, the Nyungwe forest has the status of a national park and is thus one of three national parks in Rwanda. The others are the Virunga National Park (Parc National de Virunga ), famous for its mountain gorillas and the Akagera National Park ( Parc National de l' Akagera ). There are partnerships with the National University of Rwanda in Butare and the WCS, as well as a ranger - based monitoring program for the park management. Wild movements, illegal activities, fauna and flora status will be registered according to the state Rwanda Development Board with the help of GIS technology ( Monitoring Information System).


The ORTPN (Office du Tourisme et des Parcs Rwandais Nationaux ) offers guided walking tours of the Nyungwe forest and the observation of chimpanzees and other primates. The starting point is located directly on the street station in uWinKa. In Gisakura, near a tea plantation at the western end of the forest, another station of the ORTPN lies with tours to a waterfall. Here also offers a comfortable Guest House accommodation. There is a tree top trail in the park, the canopy walkway.


The Nyungwe forest is relatively well developed. Cross through the forest leads the paved highway from Butare after Cyangugu on the western border of Rwanda. It is part of the trunk road from Mombasa via Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali to Bukavu / Cyangugu and is of central importance to connect the eastern part of the DR Congo.