Nyungwe National Park
In the southwest of the country, Nyungwe National Park is a vast tract of virgin forest, one of the largest uncut natural forest reserves remaining in Africa and home to more than 300 species of birds, 27 of which are regional endemics. Much of the forest is unexplored, with access being extremely difficult, because of the steep high hills and deep valleys. However, an excellent winding tarmac road bisects the forest, following the crest of the mountains. This road is one of the few places in the world that allows the visitor to look directly into and even down on the rainforest canopy. Along this road you can find most of the Albertine Rift endemics, including Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Archer’s Robin-chat, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Grauer’s Rush, Neumann’s and Grauer’s Warbles, Masked Mountain Apalis, Stripe-breasted Tit and Strange Weaver, and a full range of Rwenzori double-collared, purple-throated, blue-headed and regal Sunbirds. A speciality is the Red-collared Mountain Babbler, which has its only easily accessible site here, as does Kungwe Apalis. Recent possible sightings of Rockefeller’s Sunbird show that much is left to be discovered, and perhaps even such gems as the Congo Peacock (found only 70km distant in the DR Congo) could exist in the remote dense forest!
here are also good forest tracks for birding based around the Gisakura Guesthouse and the RDB Tourism & Conservation Campsite at Uwinka, where some of the more skulking species can be seen such as the Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Collared Apalis, and Shelley’s and Dusky Crimsonwing. Other special birds here include White-bellied robin-chat, Doherty’s and Lagden’s bush-shrikes, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Great Blue Turaco, Barred long-tailed cuckoo and White-bellied crested flycatcher. At night, Rwenzori Nightjar is not uncommon, Albertine Owlet may be found, and there might be a possibility to see the Congo Bay-owl.
a. Primate Tracking
Beyond the gorillas that made Rwanda famous, wildlife junkies will be thrilled to know that they can track three more species of primate on their Rwandan holiday: Chimpanzees, Black-and-white colobus monkeys, and the endangered Golden monkey. Chimpanzee groups live high in the canopy of Nyungwe National Park, and catching your first glimpse of one crashing through the forest after hiking into their territory is nothing short of astonishing. The black-and-white colobus live in Nyungwe as well, and these resplendent, long-haired creatures are every wildlife photographer’s dream. Finally, like their neighbours the gorillas, the Golden monkey can be found in very few places outside of Volcanoes National Park, and their rich colors, energetic demeanour, and sizeable troupes of up to 30 individuals are truly a sight to behold. The gorillas may be what brought you to Rwanda, but it would be an absolute shame to leave without seeing any of the wonderful creatures they share a home with.
b. Chimpanzee Tracking
These cousins to humans can be found and tracked in Nyungwe National Forest. A beautiful guided hike through the forest will lead you to these fascinating creatures where you can watch them play and interact up close. Chimpanzee tracking can be done year-round in Nyungwe Forest, rain or shine, and while it is never guaranteed that you will see them, sightings are very common and guides are skillful in tracking them. The experience differs from gorilla tracking as the chimps are running around, so the sightings are a bit more sporadic and rushed, but worthwhile nonetheless.
c. Golden Monkey Tracking
These striking primates are a treat for the eyes. With their bright orange fur contrasting the green rainforests of the Virunga Mountains – it’s a photographers dream! Visitors meet with their guides at Volcanoes National Park’s Kinigi Headquarters and the visit is done once per day, time will be allocated once booked.
d. Black & White Colobus Monkey Tracking
These charismatic monkeys – sometimes referred to as Ruwenzori Colobus – take up the final place in Rwanda’s Big-4 primate species. Nyungwe Forest is again home to this attractive species. Because they live within sizeable groups (one of the habituated troops has more than 200 individuals), an encounter with Colobus Monkeys in Rwanda often exceeds sightings anywhere elsewhere in Africa.