Nyungwe National Park
by Gaël R. Vande weghe
06 january 2022
Nyungwe Forest is a special place, a unique body of mountain forest and biodiversity that has survived ages and countless risks of being deforested. It has survived where many others haven’t, and it is the absolute crown jewel of nature in Rwanda. Well protected, it is a harbour of life, freshwater, and ancient nature.
With a little more than 1,000 square kilometers, Nyungwe is the largest effectively protected mountain forest of the Albertine Rift. It is the home of hundreds if not thousands species endemic to this part of Africa, many relicts of ancient times. The landscape is extremely diverse, with tall mountains, steep valleys, flat wetlands and many different forest formations. Some trees in the steepest valleys have been measured at over 70m tall.
It is a place worth spending days and days reconnecting with a nature as magnificent as it can be, which is a true privilege today.
The small depression south of Uwinka.
Nyungwe is home to many massive Iminazi (Parinari excelsa),
larval food plant of tiny butterflies of
the skipper family (Platylesches).
A particular and beautiful feature of Nyungwe is the thick
and hyperhumid understory of the deepest and lowest valleys.
Here along the Kamiranzovu valley.
The understory at the lowest levels of
Imbaraga trail, rated challenging for hikers.
Polystachya anastacialynae is an orchid that is currently
only known from Rwanda, in Nyungwe Forest.
L’hoest Monkeys, Cercopithecus lhoesti, a tmostly terrestrial monkey,
are common throughout Nyungwe and often
seen along the main road.
One of the hundreds of small streams flowing
through Nyungwe forest.
On some ridges, mature Parinari trees form a very
dense canopy. Here on Umuyove trail.
Small Hagenia trees seen from below, bordering Mubuga swamp.
Malachite Sunbird | U-Nectarinia famosa
On flowering Kniphofia vandeweghei in Mubuga swamp.
Intricate foliage of Podocarpus trees close to the
highest altitudinal pointof Nyungwe, on Bigugu summit.
Giant heath on the summits are wind resistant,
and often grows indicating the stress they go through.
Senecio flowers, often blooms massively on the road sides
and trails, particularly where the sun can reach.
Umukereko (Newtonia buchananii).
One of the most beautiful trees of nyungwe.
An elder female chimpanzee along the Banda road.
She was feeding in a fruiting Chrysophyllum gorungosanum.
A large Impatiens stuhlmannii flower (Balsam)
on the edge of a small stream on the lower trails.
A busy Red-footed Sun-Squirrel
Heliosciurus rufobrachium, on the Igishigishigi trail.
Bamboos are limited in Nyungwe, but
in Nshili some formations are very tall.
A Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill
(Bycanistes subcylindricus), in the Gisakura forests.
The famous Nyungwe Canopy Walkway along
the Igishigishigi trail departing from Uwinka.
Ndambarare waterfall, at least 10-12 meters tall.
The forests around Gisakura at a misty sunset.
Views from the Kamiranzovu waterfall.