Nyungwe is a mountainous rain forest in the southwestern corner of Rwanda (that also contains the most distant source of the Nile! fun fact). I tend to get disproportionately excited about anything rain-foresty, so this was… indeed very exciting. Compared to rain forests in Belize, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, Nyungwe feels less tropical, more untouched–roads have only been developed to access it since 2004 or so.

chilly green

chilly green

The elevation shrouds everything in a layer of mist, and the topsy turvy topography means you can see layers of forest floors and canopies at the same time.

The elevation shrouds everything in a layer of mist, and the topsy turvy topography means you can see layers of forest floors and canopies at the same time.

Unfortunately, Nyungwe is also price-gouging at its best. Foreigners pay $40-$50 per TRAIL for the privilege of a basic jungly stroll, and $90-$100 to potentially encounter creatures of the monkey/chimpanzee variety. To enforce this, it is forbidden to wander anywhere in the park without a guide, even along the main road.

playing with a 300mm zoom

playing with a 300mm zoom

I understand that tourism contributes pivotally towards Rwanda’s economic development, but it’s depressing that such a primeval natural area has been  ruthlessly zoned, regulated, and closed to personal exploration. (Would it not be better to have visitors pay a larger park entrance fee and give free reign throughout the park?)

monkey tracking...

monkey tracking...

unhabituated colobus monkey

unhabituated colobus monkey

Also–would recommend coming to Nyungwe with a car/driver and lots of snacks. Traffic is very scanty on the road through the forest, and it was a while before we managed to flag down random vehicles to take us back to Kigali.

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