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Nyungwe Forest has a steep landscape, numerous waterfalls and a wonderful animal life makes hiking in Nyungwe Forest a popular activity. Hiking in Nyungwe Forest offers an extensive network of scenic trails for hikers of any level. Apart from being one of the oldest forests in Africa, Hiking in Nyungwe Forest takes you past many waterfalls, viewpoints, and not to mention the debated source of the Nile. For the more comfortable hikers, Hiking in Nyungwe Forest offers shorter options such as the canopy walkway and hikes around Kamiranzovu Swamp. For those who like to get their feet dirty, Hiking in Nyungwe Forest can be done as a series of multiday package options available from the park headquarters.

Nyungwe Forest is also rich in biodiversity and spectacularly beautiful. The mountainous region is teaming with wildlife, including a small population of chimpanzees as well as 12 other species of primates, including the L’Hoest’s monkey endemic to the Albertine Rift. Nyungwe has 1,068 plant species and 140 orchids, 322 birds’ species including Red-collared Babbler and 29 other Albertine Rift En demic species. Butterflies are also a common sight, with at least 120 species. Nyungwe also has 75 known mammals such as the serval cat, mongoose, congo clawless otter and leopard to name but a few.

Hiking Trails in Nyungwe Forest

Located in the south west of Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest’s steep landscape makes it an ideal destination for hikers. There is an extensive network for hiking in Nyungwe Forest of scenic hiking trails. One of the oldest rainforests in Africa, Nyungwe is rich in biodiversity and spectacularly beautiful. Nyungwe is also known for its Canopy Walk suspension bridge. With more than 12 trails for hiking in Nyungwe Forest, visitors can choose to sample the delights of the forest or indulge themselves for a week or more in one of Africa’s most stunning forests. Since it is a national park, all hiking in Nyungwe Forest is guided.

This 1000 square kilometer expansive forest park features over 130 kilometers of hiking trails which take you through its diverse natural wonders. A hike through this oldest afro-montane forest may last you about 4 hours-3 days depending on the trail. Nyungwe Forest National Park is a home to 13 species of primates, butterflies and bird species most of which can be spotted while on a hike. The various hiking trails for you to explore while on Rwanda safari include;

Igishigishigi Trail

The Igishigishi trail is the most popular trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park and hikers kick start their journey from Uwinka reception center. This trail also includes the canopy forest walkway. It is 2.4 kilometers and hiking through it may last you about 1.4 hours to make a complete hike. This trail equally rewards travelers with magical encounters over the park’s varied primate species, birds, butterflies, tree top and others. For visitors who need to hike through a short trail, Igishigishi trail should be a must for you to explore.

Starting point: Uwinka Visitors Center
Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 2 hours
Length: 2.1 km

A comfortable trek for novices, this 2.1 km hike will amaze youwith its majestic views of the Canopy Walkway and dazzling wildflowers. The Igishigishigi Trail is named after the giant tree ferns which are dotted along the trail. It can also be combined with the longer Imbaraga or Umuyove Trails. 

Karamba Trail

Starting point: Karamba Main- Road

Diffulty: Easy

Duration: 3 hours

Length: 6 km

Another relatively easy trail for hiking in Nyungwe Forest, the Karamba Trail is 6 km long and located on the former site of a gold mine, market and army camp. The trail is considered one of the best spots for birding in Nyungwe as it is flanked by numerous fern trees. 

Umugote Trail

Starting point: Uwinka Visitors Center

Difficulty: Challenging

Duration: 3 hours

Length: 3.6 km

This 3.6 km hike provides marvelous views of numerous ridges, rainforests, stunningly beautiful flowers and on a clear day, the Kibira National Park in Burundi. The trail is also a prime location for primate viewing and birding. 

Umuyove Trail

Starting point: Uwinka Visitors Center

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 3.5 hours

Length: 5.5 km

Also known as the Mahogany Trail, visitors relax by a waterfall, take a stroll under some of the park’s tallest trees and savour the scent of aromatic leaves during this trek. With a distance of 5.5 km, the Umuvoye Trail provides access to several side trails used for chimpanzee viewing.

Uwinka Trail

Starting point: Uwinka Visitors Center

Difficulty: Challeninging

Duration: 8 hours

Length: 17.8 km

Although considered a difficult hike, this 17.8 km trail takes hikers through rather lovely ravines and is the perfect place to listen to early morning bird calls.

Irebero Trail

Starting point: Uwinka Visitors Center

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 3 hours

Length: 3.4 km

This 3.4 km trail loops around two of the highest peaks in the park and provides views of Lake Kivu in Rwanda. The Irebero trail stretches for about 3.4 kilometers and comes with the most scenic views. For visitors with moderate physical wellness, this is one of the trails to embark on while on primate safari in Nyungwe Forest National Park. This trail is about 3 hours’ hike.

Imbaraga Trail

Starting point: Uwinka Visitors Center

Difficulty: Challenging

Duration: 6 hours

Length: 10 km

This is another more challenging trail and it is about 10 kilometers long and visitors can hike through it for about 6 hours. It takes you about 4 magnificent waterfalls and other wildlife species. Geared toward experienced hikers, the trail rewards hikers with the sight of four scenic waterfalls and any of them will be refreshing after trekking a little less than 10 km.

Bigugu Trail

Starting point: Nyabishwati

Duration: 6 hours

Length: 13.2 km

The highest peak in the park, this 13.2 km trail offers incredible flora and on a clear day views of Lake Kivu as well as hills and islands belonging to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For those of you who are in need for more challenging hikes, Bigugu trail should be a must for you to explore. This is about 6 hours’ hike and extends for 7 kilometers. Bigugu trail is at altitude of about 2950 meters and interested hikers need to be physically well to be able to make a complete hike. At this trail, you have a chance to enjoy different birds including the red collared mountain babblers and also wild flowers for instance the orchids and the giant lobelias.

Isumo Trail

Starting point: Gisakura office

Duration: 4 hours

Length: 10.6 km

This trail 10.6 km takes hikers through verdant tea fields, a steep rainforest ravine and to top it off, the biggest waterfall in the Nyungwe National Park. One of the most memorable trails for hiking in Nyungwe Forest! This trail lies 5 kilometers away from One and Only Nyungwe House-the newly established luxury lodge in Nyungwe Forest National Park. It is one of the most popular trails and extends for about 10.6 kilometers long and ideal for visitors with moderate physical wellness. The hike through this trail takes you about 4 hours or more. It as well, takes you through scenic tea plantation and through patches of forest where you will have a chance to catch a glimpse at varied monkey species. At the waterfall, higher chances are that you will have a chance to spot out the Rwenzori Turaco.

Muzimu Trail

This is 5.2 kilometers’ trail and it is a bit remote and may last you about 3.5 hours to have a complete hike. This trail comes with its spectacular views of Nyungwe national park’s open heath like shrubs and vegetation. As well, enjoy different flowers and scenic views over Lake Kivu and the Virunga volcanoes.

Starting point: Gisovu Ranger Post

Duration: 3.5 hours

Length: 5.2 km

A relatively easy trail for hiking in Nyungwe Forest in the remote north-eastern part of Rwanda takes hikers through pine and eucalyptus forests on a distance of 5.2 km. On this trail, you encounter many bird species and also get perfect views of the Lake Kivu and Virunga Volcanoes on a clear day.

Ngabwe Trail

Starting point: Kitabi Center

Duration: 3 hours

Length: 4.7 km

Two paths of 4.7 km lead hikers to the summit of mountain Ngabwe, which is a lovely picnic and camping site. This is a 4.7 kilometers hiking trail and visitors on hiking tour take about 3 hours. It is perfect for those of you with moderate physical fitness and while on a hike through this trail, you have great opportunity to explore its dense vegetation and you take approximately 8 hours to make a complete hike through this trail. This trail as well as takes you to Kitabi Tea Plantation and besides enjoying the breathtaking views over the forest, there are also some primate species for you to look out including L’Hoest silver monkeys, mangabeys, chimpanzees, colobus monkeys and others.

Rukuzi Trail

Starting point: Uwinka Visitors Center

Duration: 5 hours

Length: 9 km

This exhilarating 9 km hike provides outstanding chimpanzee spotting locations as well as views of Banda Village, from where children’s voices carry up the mountainside.

The Congo Nile Divide Trail

The Congo Nile Divide Trail is largely montane area mostly the southern part and extends to cover some parts of Nyungwe forest national park and Kibira national park in Burundi.  It extends to cover parts of Butare Cyangugu road about 7 kilometers west of Uwinka. This trail takes you through its rich floral and faunal species which include bamboo forest, marshes, wild flowers and ericaceous shrub as well as varied bird species for you to sight at including among others the Rwenzori Turaco, Kivu ground thrush and red collared mountain babbler.

Kamiranzovu Marsh trail

This takes you through a caldera like depression and features a large swamp which makes up the watershed in the park. Kamiranzovu marsh trail is 6 kilometers long and hiking through it may last you about 3 hours. This trail features many orchids that come in large numbers especially during the rainy or wet season which starts from March to May and from October to November.

Canopy walkway

With about 3 canopy walkways that exist in Africa, this is one of its kinds in East Africa. This is a suspended walkway about 50 meters from the ground, 200 meters and hangs across the steep and deep valley filled with dense forest. The walk can last for 2 hours and you start your journey at ‘Uwinka tourist reception center.’ The notable creatures to spot out while on this walkway include L’Hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and not to forget incredible bird species. To take part in this experience, you need $60 which is payable at the reception center.

Other trails for you to hike while on safari in Nyungwe Forest National Park include Karamba birding trail, Umuyove trail, Umugote trail, the source of the River Nile trail and Rukuzi trail.