Those especially looking for primates or birds will want to be sure to spend time in Nyungwe National Park. The forest is teeming with a vast array of flora and fauna throughout the park’s 1,000 square kilometres.
Nyungwe’s primates are just one reward for a walk through the forest with its viewing points and waterfalls. There are 13 species, including the chimpanzee, L’Hoest’s monkey and Angola colobus.
Bird enthusiasts can imagine the delight of seeing the great blue turaco, as well as many of the other almost 300 bird species found in the park.
Nyungwe forest is an Albertine rift montane rainforest. The Albertine rift forms the epicentre of Africa’s montane rainforest circle. It is 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. The Albertine rift eco-region is one of Africa’s most endemic rich regions.
Nyungwe forest received only recently 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 pressures in Africa are to be found within the Albertine rift and that the forest is the biggest water reservoir for the country.
The highland forest covers 970 km² and has a unique habitat. It’s 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 nirvana!
The forest has 300 species of birds with 27 Albertine rift endemics and 121 forest species. The flora is particularly rich with 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 primate fauna includes: chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), Rwenzori colobus (colobus angolensis), l’Hoest’s monkey (C.l’hoesti), silver monkey (c.mitis doggetti), golden monkey (C.mitis kandti), owl-faced monkey (C.hamlyni), red-tailed monkey (C.ascanius), Den’t mona monkey (C.mona denti), vervet monkey (C.aetiops), olive baboon (papio anubis), grey-cheeked mangabey (Cercocebus albigena) and three species of bushbaby.
The mountains are Africa’s Galapagos Islands – islands encircled by golden monkeys, gorillas and iridescent sun birds, by giant labelias, everlasting flowers, Ruwenzori turacos and all the questions they raise. They deserve greater recognition, protection and study than they have received so far.”
– Jonathan Kingdon, renowned biologist, in his award-winning book Inside Africa.