RWANDA CHIMPANZEE TREKKING SAFARIS.
Rwanda is one of the best primate trekking destinations. Though most famous for mountain gorillas, the country is also well known for its chimpanzees. Nyungwe National Park, a tropical rainforest in southwest Rwanda is home to 13 species of primates including chimpanzees.
Nyungwe is the main destination for Rwanda chimpanzee trekking safaris. However, in addition, chimp trekking has been opened in Gishwati – Mukura National Park Rwanda’s new park established in 2015 and opened for visitors in 2019.
WHERE TO DO CHIMPANZEE TREKKING SAFARIS IN RWANDA?
As to which part of Rwanda you should visit to see chimps, Nyungwe forest national park is the place that call visitors loudest. This is because of several activities available to do in addition to chimp trekking. But, if you visit Gishwati – Mukura National Park, you will be supporting the park and conservation of its wildlife.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Though Nyungwe forest has awesome adventure activities to do, chimpanzee trekking is the main reason why go there. It’s estimated that there over 400 chimpanzees, but the two habituated chimp communities are in Cyamudongo forest which is fused into the larger Nyungwe National Park.
Treks begin at Cyamudong’s visitor center – Uwinka normally starting early morning. Visitors often ask how long does the trek last and if it’s guaranteed to see the chimps. No one can answer that, simply because it depends on the movement of chimpanzees and the trek gradually gets interesting the moment you hear the hoot pant calls or when the ranger tells you to stop. Finally, once chimps are located, visitors can spend 1 hour taking pictures and learning from the ranger their human like behaviors because the chimpanzee has 98% of human DNA.
The best for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest is during the rainy season. Starting December to February and June to September. Though, you can also visit the park in the wet season especially if you’re interested in bird watching, go there in April to May or October to November.
It doesn’t matter that the chimpanzee sightings can be difficult due to terrain and thickness of the forest. The chimp trekking experience in Nyungwe is worth it and satisfying because of other complimenting activities that offer access into the forest.
With that in mind, you should plan to spend at least 3 days in Nyungwe National Park. You will have enough time to explore activities including colobus monkey tracking, canopy walk, hiking trails including visit to Kamiranzovu waterfalls.
There are chimpanzees along with 12 other species of primates such as red colobus monkey, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, L’hoest’s monkey. And visitors can go for colobus monkey tracking too. Nyungwe is the only forest in east Africa where troops of more than 300 black and white colobus monkeys have been identified.
With about 13 trails, hiking through Nyungwe forest is a true natural challenge due to the thick undergrowth and the mountain landscape that range between 1629m to 2870 meters above sea level. Some of the trails lead you to Kamiranzovu waterfalls and to the contending Rwandan source of river Nile.
The obvious view of Nyungwe forest landscape is the canopy walks that are suspended 50 to 90 meters above the ground. Visitors can take walks moving at a height of tree canopies where you feel the cool fresh air and simply become a monkey looking for adventure while you’re there.
Chimpanzee trekking in Gishwati – Mukura National Park
Rwanda’s newest national park Gishwati – Mukura was established in 2015 and opened for tourism in 2019. This park contains two forest reserves that have been restored after they were long neglected and encroached on by farmers. There are over 20 chimpanzees roaming the forest and chimp trekking there doesn’t even need advance booking.
In contrast to Nyungwe, Gishwati – Mukura National park contains both natural tropical and mostly restored forest. Hence it doesn’t have thick undergrowth making it easier to hike through in search of chimpanzees. You might also be rewarded with sightings of other primates such as colobus monkeys, L’hoest’s monkeys, blue monkeys among others.