Chimpanzee Tracking In Rwanda

Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest Rwanda can take you 2-6 hours to find these apes.

Chimpanzee Trekking In Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda

Are you looking for chimpanzee trekking In Nyungwe forest national park Rwanda and costs of chimpanzee permits? For the last years, Rwanda government has set up her tourism hot spot in the east African region. Part of the government money has been set aside to turn the country in to a leading tourism destination through increased marketing and promotion in the whole world. The president of Rwanda Paul Kagame has been on the foreground of all these efforts and has encouraged diversity in attractions such as Congo Nile trail. Despite the diversification, primates in Rwanda still remain the key attraction. Gorilla trekking is probably the most attractive activity in the country Rwanda. Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda are more expensive than those of Uganda and they go for USD 1500 per person per day but this hasn’t stopped tourists from coming into the country to see these primates and it has caused some tourists to ask for other alternatives such as chimpanzee trekking.

Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is carried out in Nyungwe forest. Nyungwe forest is a long stretch of montane rain-forest and is the largest in Africa as per now and the forest has a great conservation sight which attracts scientists and researchers who are interested in primate research. Nyungwe forest is part of the wide Nyungwe national park including Cyamudongo forest. The forest is water catchment area in a country and it produces rains that feed rivers such as river Nile and other rivers in DR Congo. Nyungwe forest is a true birders destination with about 300 bird species. Birds in Nyungwe forest include flycatchers, chapin’s flycatcher, Rwenzori turaco, red collared mountain babblers, purple breasted sunbird and Rockefellers.

Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest

Chimpanzees are ma’s closest relatives with 98.6% human DNA. Chimpanzees share many of our characters and they are of no doubt the most intelligent apes after us humans then the gorillas follow. In captivity a female chimpanzee can live up to 39 years and a male chimpanzee can live up to 32 years but in the wild chimpanzees can live up to 60 years. In Rwanda, chimpanzees can only be found in Gishwati-Mukura national park, Nyungwe forest and Cyamudongo forest all these found in Nyungwe national park. Nyungwe national park harbors the largest number of chimpanzees that’s over 400 individuals and other 12 primates. There are 2 habituated chimpanzee groups in Nyungwe National Park with about 60 individuals living in Nyungwe forest while about 30 individuals in Cyamudongo forest. Other primates in Nyungwe forest include blue monkeys, Mona monkeys, l’hoest’s monkeys, silver monkeys, dent’s monkeys, owl faced monkeys, black faced monkeys, vervet monkeys, rwenzori colobus, olive baboons and black and white colobus monkeys.

Chimpanzee trekking is more interesting than gorilla trekking because the chimpanzees are stubborn, noisy and re mobile. Because chimpanzees are light, they spend most of the times swinging and playing from one tree to another unlike mountain gorillas. Chimpanzees are very gentle and peaceful apes. They will play peacefully, eat quietly and interact without provocation and less drama in the group. Trekking chimpanzees needs one to be fit and healthy in order to follow these primates for long hours as they are very mobile and quick both on ground and on the trees before settling down. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest starts at 5am early in the morning in either uwinka, kitabi or Gisakura. If you want to trek chimpanzees after taking early morning breakfast you must wake up at 4:30am. Nyungwe forest is large and the only to find chimpanzees before going deep in the forest is by trekking them early and find them still in their nest. After briefing, the trackers are grouped and each group is headed by a guide. From here they go in the forest to find the location of the chimpanzees before communicating to the lead guide or the ranger about where to find them.

Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest Rwanda can take you 2-6 hours to find these apes. After chasing the chimpanzees for many hours, you will settle after finding them and you will be given an hour to interact with them, observe them closely before taking photos and recording videos. After spending time with chimpanzees, you will notice how they behave like humans. You will watch them play, fight, mate, breastfeed and groom each other before they go for hunting. Some chimpanzees in the group are very silent while others are more vocal. Just like human, chimpanzees have internal politics and group dynamics. Nyungwe being a large forest, trackers face a problem while trekking these chimpanzees. The chimpanzees move deep in the forest reducing the chances of seeing them. It’s better and easier to see chimpanzees in Cyamudongo forest reason being it’s smaller and easier to explore by foot in a short period of time.

Tips and packaging list for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda

Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest is done throughout the year. The best season for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest is the wet season and this is because the fruits and food in the forest is available everywhere so the chimpanzees don’t move very far to look for food. During dry seasons the food in the forest in scare so the chimpanzees tend to move very deep in the forest in search of fruits hence making it hard to track them. The dry is ideal for those who want to take part in chimpanzee habituation because the tourists are few, those interested in canopy walks and nature walks.

Seeing the chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest is not a guarantee, its better you visit Cyamudongo forest because it’s small and isolated so tracking the chimpanzees and moving around the forest takes less time.

Chimpanzee permits in Nyungwe forest are USD 100 per person per day. Booking is made through Rwanda development board or any trusted tour operator. It’s advised you pay in advance to avoid inconveniences and make proper planning for you. Chimpanzee trekking permit includes ranger, guide and park entrance fee

Children below the age of 15 are not allowed to trek down chimpanzees

Unlike mountain gorillas, not all chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest are habituated. They are never settled like gorillas and this means trackers have to move for long time to allocate them. It’s not a guarantee that when you trek chimpanzees you find them although most of the people who trek them find them with the help of experienced rangers who know their previous rest.

While planning to trek chimpanzees in Nyungwe national park, you should pack drinking water, packed lunch, rain jacket, insect repellents, good hiking shoes, long sleeved cloths, sun glasses, good camera and binoculars for those who love birds.

Other tourism activities in Nyungwe forest national park Rwanda

Spotting other primates:

Nyungwe forest is among the best places to see primates in Africa. The forest has 13 primates just like Kibale national park of Uganda. The most attractive primate here is chimpanzee and after that the rwenzori and Angola colobuses follow. The Angola colobus are now extinct in Angola but there are about 400 Angola colobuses that are semi-habituated with in Nyungwe national park. Other primates in the park include black and white colobus monkeys, golden monkeys, dent’s monkeys, Mona monkeys, silver monkeys, black faced monkeys, vervet monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, rwenzori colobus, olive baboons and l’hoest’s monkeys

Canopy walks:

The best way to tour Nyungwe forest is by using the canopy walk. It’s the only canopy walk in east Africa as per now with a 60-meter high strong steel bridge that is built on top of the trees to give visitors an aerial view of the different bird species, primates and the forest trees. The canopy has viewing points where one can rest as they stare at the beautiful scenery and wildlife. This activity begins from the visitors’ center in uwinka and takes about 2 hours. The canopy walk costs 60 USD

Bird watching:

Nyungwe forest is a birders paradise in Rwanda attracts bird watching safaris in Rwanda. The forest harbors about 300 species of birds who which 26 are endemic to the Albertine region. You can spot different bird species in the forest among which include large blue Turaco, handsome francolin, Ruwenzori Apalis, Ruwenzori Batis, kungwe apalis, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, grauer’s warbler, dusky crimson wing, Neumann’s Warbler, archer’s robin-chat, apalis argentea and Sunbirds.

Nature walks and hikes:

Nyungwe forest has different trials for hiking in the park. for one to complete the trail they have to walk for about 130km. the main trials in the forest include Igishigishigi Trail, Karamba Birding Trail, , kamiranzonzo trial, canopy trail, Imbaraga Trail, nagbwe trail, Bigugu trail, Irebero Trail, Congo Nile trial, Isumo waterfall Trail, Umugote Trail, Muzimu Trail, Rukuzi Trail and Umuyove Trail. The most used and popular trails are Bigugu trail and igishigishigi trail. For one to enjoy the nature walk they must be fit and this is because the terrain are unpredictable. By the time you complete any of the trails, you would have seen a number of birds, primates, rivers, butterflies, insects, trees or you may opt for stargazing experience 

Visiting one of the waterfalls:

The popular waterfall in Nyungwe forest is called Isumo waterfall and it’s located very close to Nyungwe house. To reach this water fall you will walk using the Isumo waterfall trail. The trail is short but it involves walking through slippery and steep areas of the park after which you go to a very dense part of the forest before spotting the waterfall. The reward for this hard hike are the beautiful sounds of animals and birds, cool breezes and views of the dense forest. As you go back to your starting point, you would have seen insects, butterflies, primates, frogs and different tree species.

Visiting Gisakura tea plantation:

This activity is better done in the evening after completing your daily activities. It’s good for enthusiasts and those who love and appreciate the beauty of nature game. One can visit the garden, learn how tea is grown, harvested and you can go to the processing plants to see how tea is processed. You can also join the team and pick tea leaves as you put them in the basket. The area around Gisakura tea plantation has beautiful scenery of Nyungwe forest and mountain Bibugu in horizon.

Hiking Mountain Bigugu: mountain Bigugu is located within Nyungwe forest. Hiking to the top offers amazing views of the vast forest and distant Virunga Mountains name Karisimbi, Muhabura and Bisoke.

Community and cultural visits:

Rwanda people have a unique culture and there are many opportunities of experiencing it while on a safari to Nyungwe forest. You can visit kitabi cultural village or Banda community village. You can also attend traditional dances and drama by Cyamudongo cultural troupe or friends of Nyungwe. All these people show case the rich culture of Rwanda people through storytelling, dance and drama. You can also buy local crafts and art pieces from these people.

Accommodation during chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest

Nyungwe house:

This luxury lodge was opened up in 2010 as a 5 star hotel. It’s located near the tea Gisakura tea plantation just outside Nyungwe forest. It has become one of the favorite for visitors who want luxury accommodation because of its quality services and location. The lodge has self-contained rooms, gym, swimming pool and a good restaurant offering both local and international foods. The hotel has a balcony which gives one amazing views of the forest and the Gisakura tea plantation.

Gisakura guest house:

This guest house is located 2 kilometers away from Nyungwe national park is close to Gisakura tea plantation off the road going to Rusizi. The guest house is favorable for the visitors travelling on budget, those coming to see chimpanzees, nature walks and canopy walks in Nyungwe forests.

Nyungwe top view hotel:

This was opened up in 2011 and it’s located near Nyungwe forests offering mid-range accommodation facilities with self-contained rooms. The rooms are building facing Nyungwe national park which gives you a clear view of the country side. The lodge is built using local bricks and they have locally made furniture. Other hotels one can use on their safari to Nyungwe forest include Gisakura guest house, Inzizi beach hotel, Nyungwe top hill, Nyungwe forest lodge and many others.

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