Hiking Trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park are carefully developed for travellers to follow in the bid to explore the forest in great depth. The hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park take anything from 4 hours to up to 3 days. Hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park can cover distances to up to 130kms, sighting a variety of attractions in the park say the supposed Rwanda source of the Nile, a variety of primates including chimpanzees, olive baboons, and black and white colobus monkeys among others, and various bird species, butterflies, and plant life. Whereas chimpanzee tracking and canopy walking are the main tourist activities that travellers do while in Nyungwe Forest National Park, hiking through the forest on trails is also very rewarding and a number of tourists spend more days in the park just to explore the park further.
Hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park are categorised into three, dependent on their geographical location. The three categories that trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park are put into include; between Kitabi and Uwinka centre, from Uwinka reception through the forest, as well as between Uwinka and Gisakura reception centre. The following are the trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park, according to their categories;
Hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park between Kitabi and Uwinka reception centre are;
Ngabwe trail covers a 4.7-kilometre distance. This trail is at an elevation between 2320-2730 meters above sea level and is mostly famous for having one of the most scenic views and a great birding route for those travellers that have a special interest of bird watching. Ngabwe trail is a relatively moderate hiking trail that usually takes about 3 hours only to complete. Among the wildlife travellers are likely to see include chimpanzees, mangabeys, among so many others.
Mizumu trail covers a distance of 5.2 kilometres, making a round trip to the second summit that runs through Nyungwe forest. Mizumu trail is in an elevation that ranges from 2516-2816 metres, making it relatively harder as compared to Ngabwe trail above. This trail usually starts at the forested buffer zone and winds into an open area. Hiking Mizumu rewards travellers with magnificent views of not only Lake Kivu but also the volcanoes on very clear days. Mizumu hiking trail is considered moderate to hike by those that have taken it, having travellers spending about 3-4 hours only to complete it.
Rukuzi trail covers a 9.1 kilometres distance, through the forest. Rukuzi trail leads through an elevation of 2175-2395 metres above sea level, and is famous for its very breath-taking views of mainly Lake Kivu at a far distance. This trail is also used for chimpanzee tracking, travellers who take it therefore chance to see chimpanzees along with other primates like baboons and various monkey species. Completing the Rukuzi trail can take about 5 hours, and is considered relatively difficult.
Bigugu trail is relatively longer as compared to those mentioned above, for it covers a distance of 13.2 kilometres and leads through the forest at an elevation between 2367-2950 meters above sea level. Bigugu trail is named after Mount Bigugu, the very highest mountain in Nyungwe Forest National Park that stands at 2950 metres above sea level. This makes hiking Bigugu trail rather strenuous, and takes about 6 hours to finish. Preparing adequately for it is therefore required. Birders are sure to see among other birds the red collared mountain babbler, chestnut owlet, Archer’s Robin-chat, and Olive and Elliot’s woodpeckers while on this trail, as well as wild flowers like orchids.
Congo Nile divide trail
The Congo Nile divide trail is a very long trail that covers up to 42.2 kilometres. The Congo Nile divide trail is considered to be the longest hiking trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park with an elevation that ranges between 2366-2878 metres above sea level. The Congo Nile divide trail is a multiday hike that takes about 3 days to complete, and it includes a spur to the source of the Nile in Congo, and also leads to where the Nile River and Congo River separate from, giving travellers some really amazing views despite it being quite strenuous.
Hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park that begin from Uwinka reception include;
Igishigishigi trail is one of the shortest and most popular hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park. This trail covers a distance of only 2.1 kilometres with an elevation that ranges from 2295-2450 metres above sea level, that it begins from Uwinka reception area. The Igishigishigi trail is one of the most interesting hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park that it rewards travellers immensely with not only the scenic views but also the abundant wildlife, plants and various monkey species. The trail leads to the canopy walk as well. Igishigishigi trail got its name from the giant tree ferns along the trail that is locally known as Igishigishigi in the Kinyarwanda dialect. While on this trail, travellers get to see various monkey species, birds, treetops and beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated easy and takes just about 1hour and a half only to complete or at most 3 hours depending on one’s physical ability.
Buhoro trail is another of the shortest hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park. This trail is only 1.8 kilometres long from the Uwinka reception centre through the forest. The trails is in the elevation that ranges from 2386-2450 metres above sea level. This trail is rather easy and can be done by just about anyone for it is short and takes only about 1.5 hours to complete. The word Buhoro means slow in the local language.
Irebero trail covers 3.6 kilometres only with an elevation that ranges between 2407-2517 metres above sea level. This trail rewards travellers with magnificent views of Rwanda’s borders as well as the very beautiful Lake Kivu. Irebero is a local Kinyarwanda word for “view’s point”. The Irebero trail is relatively easy to hike and takes travellers only 3 hours to finish it.
Umugote trail also covers only 3.6 kilometres and travellers get to spend only 3 hours to complete the trail. This trail is good for primate spotting as well as birds. Umugote trail leads travellers through the upside of a mountain from where travellers enjoy beautiful views of pristine parts of Nyungwe forest and forest animals too. On a very clear day, Burundi mountains can be spotted. Umugote trail lies at an elevation that ranges between 2350-2460 metres above sea level. The trail is relatively moderate.
This trail is 5.5 kilometres with an altitude of 2120-2450 meters, leading travellers through very incredible sceneries with wonderful views of waterfalls and various plant species including mahogany trees, flowers and so much more. It is the presence of many mahogany trees that the trail got its name for Umuyove is the local word for mahogany. The trail gives a moderate hike and it can take about 3.5 hours only to complete it.
Imbaraga trail is at an elevation of 1950-2470 meters above sea level, covering a distance of 9.8 kilometres. Imbaraga means strength in the local Kinyarwanda language. The trail got its name for the fact that the terrain of the trail is rather hard and requires one to have strength to endure it. Travellers are encouraged to prepare adequately if they are to take up this trail. Imbaraga trail is rated difficult and takes about 6 hours to complete.
Hiking trails in Nyungwe Forest National Park that are between Uwinka and Gisakura reception centre include;
Karamba trail is a very scenic trail that is 4 kilometres long round trip with an elevation that ranges from 1935-2030 metres. This trail is the very pioneer hiking trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park and is best suited for those travellers after bird watching since it characterised by open-air. Karamba trail is easy enough to do and it takes about 3 hours only to complete.
Kamiranzovu marsh trail
This is probably the most exciting hiking trail in Nyungwe Forest National Park. The trail is at an elevation that ranges between 1940-2140 metres and covers a total distance of 5.9 kilometres. Kamiranzovu marsh is the largest wetland in Nyungwe Forest National Park that the trail was named after it. Locals in the area have a fascinating folklore about the swamp that is worth listening to. It is believed that the last elephant locally known as “nzovu” was swallowed locally known as “kamira” in this place, thus the name Kamiranzovu. The hike is moderate enough and it takes about 3 hours to complete.
Isumo waterfall trail
Isumo waterfall trail covers a total distance of 10.6 kilometres and leads through a beautiful tropical waterfall named Isumo waterfall that the trail got its name from. This trail lies at an elevation between 1770-1940 metres above sea level and along it, travellers move through tree ferns and enjoy views of the waterfall a well as animal and birdlife like the Ruwenzori Turaco. Isumo waterfall trail starts from Gisakura reception and leads to Isumo waterfall where travellers get to enjoy the beautiful views. Isumo waterfall trail is a moderate hike.
This trail is 17.8 kilometres and is at an altitude that ranges from 1982-2500 metres above sea level. Uwinka trail starts from Irebero trail to Kamiranzovu marsh trailhead, and travellers are rewarded with great views. The trail can take up to 8 hours and is rated difficult. Travellers intending to take the Uwinka trail should adequately prepare for it.