Nyungwe Forest National Park Hiking Trails

Nyungwe Forest National Park Hiking Trails

Nyungwe Forest National Park Hiking – Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda offers a range of hiking trails that take anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days to complete. With 130 kilometers of trails winding through the ancient Afro-montane forest, you can easily spend a week exploring the park.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is not only a paradise for outdoor adventure, but also the largest Afro-montane forest in Africa. It is home to over 13 primate species, an abundance of butterflies and birds, as well as seasonal orchids. Hikers exploring Nyungwe Forest can immerse themselves in the lush trails that run through the park. Many visitors to Rwanda focus on seeing the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, often overlooking the incredible diversity of primates, plants, birds, and tropical trees in Nyungwe Forest.

Ngabwe Trail

The Ngabwe Trail is 4.7 kilometers long and takes about 3 hours to complete, making it moderately difficult. Although it’s a short trail, it takes you through various vegetation zones and can be extended to an 8-hour trek that includes a visit to the Kitabi tea plantation. Hikers can bring packed lunch and enjoy a meal at the picnic site with scenic views of the forest. Along the trail, you can spot colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s silver monkeys, chimpanzees, and mangabey.

Bigugu Trail

The Bigugu Trail is a challenging hike that covers 7 kilometers and can take up to 6 hours to complete. This steep and sometimes slippery trail leads to the highest point in Nyungwe Forest National Park, the Bigugu Peak, at an elevation of 2,950 meters. This hike requires a good level of fitness, but the effort is well worth it. The trail offers excellent birdwatching opportunities, including sightings of the red-collared mountain babbler. Along the way, you’ll also see stunning wildflowers like orchids and giant lobelias.

Igishigishigi Trail

The Igishigishigi Trail is the most popular trail in Nyungwe Forest, starting from the Uwinka reception area. It features the park’s famed canopy forest walkway, a must-do for visitors. The trail is approximately 2.4 kilometers and takes about 0.5 hours to complete, including the canopy walk. You’ll find yourself high in the treetops, observing primates, birds, and butterflies in their natural habitat.

Kamiranzovu Marsh Trail

The Kamiranzovu Marsh Trail is set in a caldera-like depression that forms a large swamp and a vital watershed within the park. This moderately difficult trail is 6 kilometers long and takes around 3 hours to complete. During the rainy season (October to November and April to May), the trail is rich in orchids and is ideal for spotting swamp-associated birds like Grauer’s rush warbler.

Isumo Waterfall Trail

The Isumo Waterfall Trail is one of the park’s most popular hikes, stretching 10.6 kilometers and taking about 4 hours to complete. The trail begins with a stroll through tea plantations and patches of forest, offering opportunities to observe various species of monkeys. As you approach the waterfall, you pass through tree ferns and may spot the Rwenzori turaco bird. This trail is among the most exciting hikes in Nyungwe Forest.

Source of the Nile Trail

The Source of the Nile Trail offers an easy hike to Rwanda’s source of the River Nile. The trail takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete and can be added to a 3-day Nyungwe safari. It requires little effort and is a significant part of the park, as the trail leads to the headwaters of the Rukarara River, determined to be the source of the Nile in Nyungwe Forest.

Karamba Birding Trail

The Karamba Birding Trail is a 4-kilometer hike that features flat, open areas of the forest. Once a gold mining and quarrying site, it is now a haven for birdwatchers. It is one of the least muddy trails in Nyungwe Forest and is known for its orchids, giant tree ferns, and rare Dent’s monkeys. This trail is considered one of the easiest hikes in the park.

Muzimu Trail

The Muzimu Trail is 5.2 kilometers long and takes about 3.5 hours to complete. This moderately difficult trail leads hikers through open heath-like shrubs and vegetation, showcasing abundant wildflowers and non-forest birds. The trail offers a 360-degree view of the park and Lake Kivu in the distance. On a clear day, you can see the Virunga Volcanoes towering over Rwanda.

Imbaraga Trail

The Imbaraga Trail starts from the Uwinka reception center and is approximately 10 kilometers long, taking over 6 hours to complete. The trail’s name, meaning “strength,” reflects its challenging nature. The hike includes four different waterfalls and offers a chance to view chimpanzees. Despite its difficulty, the trail is rewarding due to its stunning scenery.

Irebero Trail

The Irebero Trail is a 3.4-kilometer loop around the two highest peaks in Nyungwe Forest. This moderately difficult trail takes about 3 hours to complete and offers excellent scenic views. The trail is designed to showcase the beautiful vistas from high altitudes, providing views of Rwanda’s borders and Lake Kivu.

Umugote Trail

The Umugote Trail is 3.6 kilometers long and takes about 3 hours to complete. Named after the Syzygium trees commonly found along the trail, this hike ascends the side of a mountain and offers panoramic views of the forest’s pristine areas. The trail winds through valleys showcasing the rich biodiversity of the forest and, on clear days, views of the mountains of Burundi.

Rukuzi Trail

The Rukuzi Trail is a challenging hike that spans 9 kilometers and takes about 5 hours to complete. This trail is known for its chimpanzee sightings and stunning vistas. Even if you don’t encounter the chimps, the breathtaking scenery makes this hike worthwhile.

Umuyove Trail

The Umuyove Trail is 5.5 kilometers long and takes about 3.5 hours to complete. This popular hike features fantastic views of waterfalls, orchids, and other wildflowers. The trail’s name, meaning “mahogany,” reflects the presence of many mahogany trees along the path. You’ll also spot various bird and primate species during this hike.

Congo Nile Divide Trail

The Congo Nile Divide Trail is a 42-kilometer trail that takes 3 to 4 days to complete. This hike follows the ridge within the forest, separating the Nile and Congo river basins. The trail is designed for experienced hikers and involves camping in the forest during the journey. It’s a memorable multi-day hike that offers a unique experience and should not be confused with the popular Congo Nile Trail running alongside Lake Kivu in western Uganda. This is the longest hiking trail in Nyungwe Forest.



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