Dating back to a time before the last Ice Age, Nyungwe National Park is one of the oldest forests in East and Central Africa. It is also the largest, stretching 400 square miles across the magnificent hills of southeast Rwanda. The forest is home to a vast range of flora, including more than 200 different types of tree and countless flowering plants, including the unearthly giant lobelia and many colourful orchids.
There are 13 species of primates in the park, including the chimpanzee, the beautiful L’Hoest’s monkey, and the large troops of the wonderfully acrobatic Angola Colobus. Nyungwe is home to almost 300 different bird species, and two dozen of these are restricted to the mountainous forests on the Alberine Rift; it is the most important ornithological site in Rwanda. The highlight here is the great blue turaco: a blue, red, and green bird which roams from tree to tree in a psychedelic procession of color.
There are many well-maintained walking trails which lead through the forest, offering views of the various waterfalls and other attractions. The reserve can easily be visited as part of a day trip from the towns of Cyangugu and Butare. However, anyone wanting to track chimps and see several varieties of smaller primates will need two days there. Dedicated bird-watchers may never want to leave! There is also a comfortable, traditional rest house for visitors.