Top 4 Things To Do When You Self Drive To Nyungwe Forest

Nyungwe forest is located in southwestern Rwanda on the Rwanda-Burundi border strategically in the watershed between the Congo River & Nile River basins. Covering up to 393 sq miles of rainforest, grasslands, bamboo and swamps, the forest is contiguous with Burindi’s Kibira National Park and Lake Kivu and is also a UNESCO heritage site as of September 2023.

Nyungwe forest is home to 13 primate species which is 25% of Africa’s total, up to 85 mammal species, 300 bird species, 1068 plant species, 38 reptile & 32 amphibian species making it one of the most popular animal & plant-diverse forests in Africa perfect for wildlife safaris and research. There are a variety of exciting tourist activities to do should you decide to rent a car for self drive to Nyungwe forest or travel with a driver and below are 4 of the best based on client requests and reviews.

Chimpanzee tracking

Nyungwe forest is home to 500 chimpanzees which is 25% of Africa’s total primate species second only to Uganda’s Kibale forest. There are only 2 habituated chimpanzee troops in the forest with the larger group of 60 individuals inhabiting the main forest while the second group- Cyamadongo lives just outside in a small forest patch. You will be assigned one of the two troops, a guide, and an armed ranger before setting out in a group of 8 people to search for the chimpanzees. Trekking may last between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the location of the chimps and you will only have one hour to observe and take picture 7 meters away from the troop.

Chimpanzee trekking can be done all year round though the best time is during the drier months between December to February and June to September and the age limit is 15 years. A chimpanzee trekking safari in Nyungwe forest is subject to a permit which costs $90 for foreign non-residents & only $60 for foreign residents

Canopy walks

Another exciting thing to do on a self drive trip to Nyungwe forest is the one-in-a-million canopy walk. The 200-meter-long trail hangs 50 meters above the thick forest canopy giving you an eagle’s eye experience and panoramic views you wouldn’t have seen when on the ground. The 2-hour long stroll is only for people above the age of 6 years but take great precaution when walking with young kids.


Nyungwe is one of the top birding destinations in Rwanda home to over 300 bird species second only to Akagera’s 550 species. The forest has both Albertine rift & forest endemics and the best way to watch them is during a guided bird walk through the numerous trails. Some of the top birds in Nyungwe forest you may stumble upon include the Rockefeller’s sunbird, green pigeons, red-breasted sparrow hawk, Francolin, red-faced woodland warbler, Ruwenzori batis, Rega sunbird, Blue-headed sunbird among others with some rare ones like Great Blue Turaco, Giangatic forest hornbill, Red-throated Alethe & Paradise flycatcher

Monkey tracking

Another exciting activity to do when you self drive Nyungwe forest is tracking down the other 12 primates that inhabit the forest. There are 13 hiking trails in Nyungwe forest all ready to usher you into a world of monkey species that include L’hoest’s monkeys, Silver monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, Dent’s mona monkeys, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Hamlyn’s monkeys among others. You will get a chance to encounter the rare Ruwenzori colobus monkeys when you get off the trails and go deeper into the forest with a guide.

Are planning a safari to Nyungwe forest and looking for the ideal 4×4 car for the road trip, we at Rent A Driver Rwanda will be more than happy to offer you a rental car for self drive or with a driver at affordable rates that will suit your budget and interests. You can contact us through or call +256-700 827247 / +256-700135510 to speak with the reservations team.

Bryan Muhoozi