The land of a thousand hills is a popular haven for hiking and trekking safaris, presenting endless options for nature walks and amazing forest trails for both experienced hikers who prefer more challenging walks / climbs and novices who desire easy walks.
Most hiking safaris are carried in the country’s most top notch conservation areas – Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe National Park.
Hiking trails in Volcanoes national park
This park is commonly known for gorilla tracking adventures in Africa, but the distinguished trails in Volcanoes national park present additional insight into several other flora and fauna species.
While in Volcanoes national park, don’t miss out on a legendary hike to explore Dian Fossey grave; this 2 hour trail takes you to a home and research camp of the fallen heroine, Dian Fossey best remembered for her extensive study and incredible passion for mountain gorilla conservation and protection in both D.R. Congo and Rwanda where she met her tragic death.
Hiking in Nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe National Park is located in southwestern Rwanda. The park is designed with a network of interesting hiking trails to provide every visitor with a superior nature-based trip.
Nyungwe forest is comprised of hiking trails measuring to distance of over 130 kilometers in Rwanda. Enthusiastic hikers can easily spend a week here hiking through the ancient Afro-montane Forest.
The park has a gentle landscape which makes it as an ideal destination for hikers – whether they’re experienced, average or novices – as the place boasts an extensive network of nature trails. The trails are blessed with unique and diverse landscape and represent the most scenic and adventurous way of exploring the forest.
Hiking trails in Nyungwe forest national park:
- Congo-Nile Divide Trail
Overlooking world’s most iconic rivers – Congo and Nile, the Congo – Nile trail is the most popular due to this strategic location and a scenic route.
Hikers follow the trailhead which curves along the steep ridges that separate rivers Nile and Congo, making it the longest and challenging but most rewarding trail, this hike is suitable for enthusiastic hikers. The trail is 227 km long taking up to 3 – 4 days of trekking, passing through the rain forest, marshy – slippery ridges and bamboo forests while listening to the thundering waters of the river making it a typically memorable experience.
- Kamiranzovu waterfall Trail
Also known as the “waterfall trail” – Kamiranzovu is most loved by water enthusiasts as it features Nyungwe’s largest and ancient wetland and impressive waterfalls.
This 6km long trail is moderately difficult and takes about 3 hours to finish. While trekking, visitors are blessed with countless species of Orchids, especially during rainy seasons. It entails walking beneath the impenetrable rainforest of Nyungwe dotted with enormous undergrowth.
- Imbaraga Trail
This 9.8 km long trail takes 6 hours of walking and is suitable for averagely experienced hikers. Imbaraga trail begins from Uwinka visitors centre at an elevation of 1,950m and ascends up to the highest point at 2,470m above sea level.
This is one of the adventurous hikes which rewards visitors with the sight of 4 magnificent waterfalls – each of them offers a refreshing scenery after trekking somewhat 10 km. The 6 hour round trek traverses the bottom of Bururi Valley, and from starting point to end of the valley, you will enjoy a rich bio diversity of pleasant habitats such as under – story thickets, luxuriant Riverine forests.
Walking next to the waterfalls provides a soothing and ambient atmosphere; admire the abundant birdlife and their sweet sounds as they re-eco from within the forest; other species here include tree frogs, primates, and lots of plant species can be seen as you further penetrate into a critical pit of large tree ferns.
- Igishigishigi Trail
This trail commences at Uwinka reception center and takes a distance of 2.1 km. Average hikers can complete this trail within 1 and half hours, going through the elevated sections of the forest and rewarded with stunning canopy views, abundant bird-life and primates.
- Bigugu Trail
Bigugu trail covers up to 7 km and may take up to 6 hours of serious trekking; the trailhead begins with a steep hike from an altitude of about 2,950m above sea level, one of the highest points of Bigugu Mountain, hence this requires an average hiking level of fitness. Open valley vegetation in the sides of the trail is perfect for viewing Doherty’s Bush shrikes. The trail is also dotted with rare plant species like the giant lobelias and heathers, glittering sun birds swinging over huge trees and most notable are the views of the forest extending up to Lake Kivu and as far as Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Irebero Trail
Irebero is a Kinyarwanda phrase which means “viewpoint” and here visitors will enjoy hiking up to the high most forest sections. The 3.6 km walk amidst lush jungles allows visitors to spot animals, birds and other residents of the forest. The trail is pleasant to hike as it gives you pleasant and panoramic views of the entire national park and parts of Northern Burundi.
- Karamba Birding Trail
Karamba trail starts from Gisakura and passes through the former Rwanda mines. The trail covers up to 3km at a slightly lower elevation of 1,930 m above sea level, passing through the open forest areas. It is the easiest to hike because of its low altitude, but expect to walk across the marshy lowlands in the forest. Visitors can admire excellent bird watching opportunities along the trail which is inhabited by mostly the Albertine rift endemics and other forest bird species such as white bellied African broadbill, numerous collared Bush shrikes as well as chances to spot the rarely seen Rwenzori night jars. Several primates inhabit the trail include the Dent’s monkey.
- Umuyove Trail
The spotting point for this hike is at Uwinka visitor center and it is a pink trail in the Uwinka trail system. This part is covered by mostly thickets and sparse forest which are well stocked with abundant birdlife such as hornbills, dusky crimson wing and purple breasted sun bird.
- Rukuzi Trail
The trail head is close to Uwinka reception center and its 1km long passing through wet valleys. Rukuzi trail can be accessed from the eastern part of Nyungwe forest adjacent to the Pindura road turn which is a proud habitat for troops of over 300 Black and White Colobus monkeys. Commonly used for organized chimpanzee treks but also perfect place to spot endangered bird species like the Dwarf honey guide and Lagdens’s Bush shrikes.
- Ngabwe Trail
This trail is 4.7 km long and takes a round trip of about 3 hours though it can be slightly longer to include the visit to Kitabi tea plantation. There are picnic and camp sites along this trail allowing visitors to spend more time admiring the verdant flora, bird species, and the native black and white colobus monkeys.
- Isumo Trail
The trail is quite longer though one of the easiest to trek and most interesting. The hiking distance is about 10.6 km taking 4 to 5 hours. Stop on the sides of the forest and listen to sparkling waterfalls and this section is a habitat for monkeys, variety of flora and birds.
The teal plantation fields in the outskirts of the forest give visitors amazing chance to view different economic activities taking place besides tourism.
- Umugote Trail
This trail is 3.6 km long and takes 3 hours to complete but most significantly trekkers will enjoy magnificent views of several forest ridges, virgin sections of Nyungwe rain forest with impressive flowers as you traverse amidst the valley. The forest here is diverse with plenty of species, both faunal and floral while on clear days one can see as far as Kibira national park and the jagged Burundi mountains.
- Muzimu Trail
The trail is located in the North East side of Nyungwe forest and present rare opportunities for scenic viewing across the forest to Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Muzimu trail is 5.2km long and it takes up to 4 hours for a round trip. For overnight stays, visitors can choose to be accommodated within the nearby campsites close to Gisovu ranger station.
- Buhanga Sacred Forest walk;
Walk through this mystical forest which is notable place for cultural significance to the people of Rwanda. It is where the kingdom was founded and where all its kings were crowned. Visitors can trek to the caves where coronation ceremonies were held. Lava stones have been laid to create navigable paths to access the caves. The trail passes through the tall, ancient ficus trees with creepers clinging to their trunks. Buhanga sacred forest can be visited on a day trip and one will have plenty of time to learn about it natural, spiritual and ecological importance. It is home to the rare orchids, butterflies and other numerous exotic species of trees.