Rwanda Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda Safaris
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda happen in the one and only Nyungwe Forest National park located in southern province of Rwanda in a 4-5 hours drive time from Kigali City. Chimpanzees can only be trekked in two defined of the Nyungwe Forest National park; Cyamudongo and Uwinka. Your chimpanzee trekking safari guide will on your day of the safari lead you to the starting point where you will start the trek from after being given an insightful briefing about the trekking activity. Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda begins early morning with visitors expected to arrive at the briefing point in Uwinka to start trekking at 5:00 am. You will be allowed to stay 1 hour with the chimpanzees after locating them and thereafter trek back to your lodge or drive back to Kigali for your outbound light plan.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe Forest
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest in Rwanda comemces at the three reception centers, i.e Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakura. This is where the tourists meet the park rangers everyone is expected to be at the reception as early as 4: 30am and by 5 am, you drive to the starting point of the trek into the forest. The chimpanzees nest in a different place each and every night, there are trackers who go ahead of the trekking group to find out where the chimps are and communicate with the ranger guides. When the tourists find the chimpanzee, they get to spend only 1 hour with the chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest National park, as they observe them so closely going about their own lives and the human like features and behavior that makes them our closest relatives with 98.7 % DNA. The chimps also communicate by way of deafening screams, the loud hoots and booming hitting of the tree barks and the buttress. It’s such a hair rising moment like no other and so memorable.
There is a habituated group of chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest with about 60 individuals and due to the greatness of the forest and terrain, it gives few chances of seeing the chimps, while the group in Cyamudongo forest that has a smaller number of about 30 chimps giving the most successful sightings that are given in the small size that is covered to find the chimps in any part.
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda experience is so different from that of gorilla trekking as the chimps are running around in the tree canopies and chimps may be running after each other and the sightings are more rushed and sporadic.
The section of Nyungwe Forest were the chimpanzees are tracked begins in Cyamudongo, a 4 and half hour drive from Kigali. This section of the forest is also part of Africa’s oldest montane forest and its home to over 13 species of primates including over 500 chimpanzees. Also as you pass through the forest, you will hear the whoops and the cackles of L’Hoest’s and the black faced vervet monkeys.
The challenging part of the trek in this section is with finding the chimps, as they are not so habituated and are always shy, also their human instincts are so strong and they show a lot of curiosity and the eagerness when the tourists are around.
The humans and the chimpanzees share 98% of their DNA, making them more exciting to be observed, most especially when they display what we call human behavior. Chimp trekking is so fast-paced and exciting which makes it more of the adventure than gorilla trekking. There are also few well established paths, denser forests to go through and discovering them on one’s own also makes it more exciting.
The chimpanzee trekking permits are also $100 which is less than that of the mountain gorillas. There are over 64 permits per day that are issued in Rwanda for chimp trekking and only 8 people per day for chimpanzee tracking. Therefore it’s advisable to book these permits well in advance and a year is not too soon.
Considering Rwanda for the primate adventure is financially less expensive when considering the chimpanzees instead of the mountain gorillas and it’s an option that will not disappoint. More so, there are many stories of the people that are coming to Rwanda and bumping into the gorillas as you travel in the forest and the sightings at one of the lodges. The mountain gorillas are also habituated and also feel somewhat more comfortable around the humans and have been known to venture to the lodges in search of food. There are also no guarantees of this happening, and in case you are lucky it’s very possible.
Nyungwe forest National park is understood to be a huge montane forest (the biggest in Central Africa) and is home to 13 primate species including over 500 chimpanzees and bird species. The other primates other than the chinmpazees are; L’Hoest’s monkey, Angola colobus – delightfully acrobatic monkeys which move in large troops of over 400 individuals, Rwenzoricolobus, silver monkey, golden monkey, owl-faced monkey, red-tailed monkey, Den’tmona monkey, Vervet monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey and three species of bush baby.
Chimpanzee trekking Safari in Rwanda tips
- You need to be 15 years and above to go for Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris in Rwanda
- Trousers and long sleeved shirts are recommended
- Water proof boots or hiking shoes
- Insect repellent
- Carry bottled water for drinking