Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda
Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda is one of the top tourist activities that many travelers engage in when they visit Nyungwe National Park. Rwanda’s major tourism activity over the years has been gorilla trekking but besides that, Rwanda has also developed the chimpanzee trekking activity making it the second biggest tourism activity done in the land of many hills. Chimpanzee trekking is a very fascinating activity that has boomed the tourism activity in Rwanda. Many tourists are opting to go for chimpanzee trekking because it is much cheaper than gorilla trekking.
In Rwanda, chimpanzee trekking is done in Nyungwe Forest National Park (Nyungwe forest and Cyamudongo forest) and Gishwati Mukura National Park. Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest remaining tract of the montane rainforest. It is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda covering an area approximately 1,015 km2 filled with a diverse eco-system that has benefited the wildlife in Rwanda.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park
Nyungwe National Park has the biggest percentage of the chimpanzee population in Rwanda which is about 400 individuals that live within the national park. Two groups of chimpanzees have been habituated in Nyungwe National Park. Sixty individuals live in the Nyungwe forest while thirty individuals live in the Cyamudongo forest.
Chimpanzee trekking is quite different from gorilla trekking because it requires a lot of physical fitness from the trekkers. The chimpanzees are very energetic and playful primates that will spend most of their time in trees while moving to get food. So tracking these primates takes time and you have to be ready to follow them whether in the trees or the grounds as they keep making loud noises.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park begins early in the morning with a briefing meeting at 5:00 am. The meeting usually takes place in Uwinka, Gisakura or Kitabi. A team of trackers normally goes ahead of trekkers to track the chimpanzees’ location and they later communicate to the leading ranger of the team about the location. The chimpanzee trekking activity takes about 2 to 6 hours and after following them move, they may finally settle and rest. As they rest, tourists get the opportunity to spot the different behaviors such as grooming each other, breastfeeding, and playing, mating and starting fights. You will notice that some chimps are quiet while the others are very playful and make loud vocals. Chimpanzees are normally curious about humans but they will tend to keep a safe distance from them. Additionally, Chimpanzee trekking in the Nyungwe forest is tiresome and takes time since the forest is large but if you want to spot chimps quickly then you should opt for Cyamudongo forest which is smaller than the Nyungwe forest in Nyungwe National park.
Chimpanzee trekking in Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is the fourth national park in Rwanda and covers an area of 13.2 square miles. The national park was formed after merging the Mukura and Gishwati forests which lie between the Akagera and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Gishwati-Mukura National Park has created a diverse ecosystem consisting of wildlife such as the 5 species of primates including the chimpanzees, baboons, golden monkeys, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, vervet monkeys, and blue monkeys among others.
Chimpanzee trekking in Gishwati-Mukura National Park is a remarkable experience that visitors to the national park will get when they opt to go for chimpanzee trekking to the newly created natural site in Rwanda.
Cost of the chimpanzee trekking permit in Rwanda
Chimpanzee trekking permits are much cheaper than the gorilla trekking permits. In Rwanda, a chimpanzee trekking permit goes for USD 100 per person per experience. Most importantly, 64 permits are issued in Rwanda for chimpanzee trekking and only 16 permits are issued daily for chimpanzee trekking exercise in Nyungwe National Park since the groups are two. 8 tourists are allowed to go for chimpanzee trekking per group and you are advised to book the gorilla permit prior to your arrival for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda to secure your turn of trekking.
Tips for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda
Tips are like measures or information you need to know about the chimpanzee trekking exercise before you go for trekking and these include;
- Chimpanzee permits cost USD 100 and bookings are made directly through the Rwanda Development Board or your tour operator.
- Tourists are allowed to take their time as they spot the chimpanzees since the time for watching the chimpanzees is not limited like that of the gorillas which s one hour.
- One has to be 15 and above to trek the chimpanzees. Anyone below that will not be allowed to trek the chimpanzees
- The fact that the chimpanzees are habituated; it is not a guarantee that they will be organized and settled like the gorillas. The chimpanzees prefer moving around and settle later in the day.
- One to go for trekking the chimpanzees, one has to be fully physically fit cause the exercise involves moving for long hours as you follow the chimpanzee communities.
- As you plan to go for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda, you are reminded to carry enough drinking water, rain jacket, hiking shoes, a long sleeved shirt, sunglasses, and insect repellent among others.
Best time to visit the chimpanzees in Rwanda
The best season to visit the chimpanzees is during the months of June to September through December to February and that’s the peak season in Rwanda. The wet seasons start from the month of March to April then May and November. During the wet seasons, it is really challenging to track down the chimpanzees but it is ideal for bird watching activity.
Since much of chimpanzee trekking is done in Nyungwe National Park, a number of accommodation facilities have been set up to cater for the visitors that come to Rwanda to trek these fascinating primates. Many of these accommodation facilities are categorized under luxury, mid-range and basic or budget facilities. These include;
- Nyungwe House: is a five-star hotel that was built on a tea plantation near the Nyungwe forest. Those tourists that want luxury services, Nyungwe House offers some of the best services such as self-contained luxury rooms, swimming pools, and gym among others.
- Nyungwe Top View Hotel: very close to Nyungwe forest and features accommodation facilities with self-contained rooms that face the forest offering a pleasant view of the countryside. Meals are offered in the dining room and rooms if the guests prefer doing that.
- Gisakura Guest House: situated about 2 kilometers away from the park and close to the Gisakura tea estate. Gisakura Guest House is good for those that come to view the chimps, canopy walks, nature walks in Nyungwe National Park. Tourists that are traveling on a budget plan then Gisakura Guest House is the right spot for you.
In conclusion, chimpanzee trekking is among the top tourist attractions in Rwanda just after gorilla trekking. Visiting these primates in their natural habitat is the most amazing thing one can do because you will get a magical and adventurous experience with the chimpanzees.