Nyungwe Forest National Park is 1000sq km of protected, rare montane forest of unrivalled biodiversity. In fact it is the largest area of montane forest left in East or Central Africa. This tropical forest with a high canopy is situated in the southwest of Rwanda and is home to more than 240 tree species, 140 orchid species, hundreds of butterflies and 275 bird species including giant hornbills, great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrowhawks. Nyungwe is stated as the 'most important site for biodiversity conversation in Rwanda' by Birdlife International for its many species, 24 of which are endemic to the Central African Highlands.
Mammals are also prevalent with 13 primate species representing 20% of the African total of primate species. The black and white colobus monkeys are found in groups of up to 400 individuals which is almost 10 times the maximum group size recorded anywhere else. It also hosts a large population of chimpanzees and two other threatened species of monkeys; the owl faced monkey and reported but unverified sightings of the golden monkey. A family holiday in Rwanda that includes the Nyungwe Foest National Park is a wonderful way to show children the vastness of the African forest and how important these species are to it.
The numerous hiking trails are ideal for primate trackers, botanists, bird-lovers and those looking for an active honeymoon in Rwanda. Whilst access is easy once you begin walking you will soon realise just how big the forest is. Towering above you are old mahoganies, ebonies and giant tree ferns with orchids clinging to every branch. Walks in the forest last from one to six or seven hours and you can arrange to track chimpanzees.
The people of the region have sustained their rich and diverse heritage with many examples of song, dance, music, cuisine, handicrafts and artisanal skills that make for a fascinating complement to the nature side of a trip to this part of Africa.
Another exciting part of a Nyungwe Forest National Park safari is the recently opened canopy walk, the only one of its kind in East Africa. This is a wonderful vantage point to view the incredible biodiversity of this rare forest.
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