Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park is a park activity of following trails that lead you to a point where you are near and close to the chimpanzees in their natural habitats. You have a chance to view their daily activities, such as when they wake up, where they sleep, how they sleep, what are their first activities after waking up and all their behaviors. You also get a chance to observe what plants species they feed on, how long they feed on a given single of plant species and also get a chance to observe how socially the chimpanzees are. You will be able to identify who leads group, how babies are cared for in the chimp world and how big the group is. As a researcher you will be able to view more that the eye can see by undertaking these chimpanzee trekking safaris in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Where chimpanzee trekking is done in Nyungwe National
Two groups of Chimpanzees are habituated in Nyungwe national park and one is found around Uwinka and other big group is found at Cyamudongo a fragmented forest. Chimpanzees trekking in Nyungwe’s Cyamudongo forest depends on how the group is behaving and the situation they are in. For example, if you go trekking chimpanzees and they are on the move, you will have to sweat running behind them and following them. But luckily enough you might find them when they are relaxing or eating. This is the chance of seeing them one by one and get to know more about their behaviors and what differentiates them from each other. The park elevation varies between 1600m-2950m above the sea level and fitness is needed. For the elderly people there is a way for them and they trek slowly until they finally get experience.
While in the park, you will have a variety of attractions to look at while carrying out chimpanzee trekking including other primate species like the vervet monkey, black and white colobus monkeys among other monkeys species.
How to get there
The chimpanzee group found near Uwinka reception center can be visited and one needs a park guide, whom you must pick up at Gisakura reception center around 4:30 am. You then drive towards Uwinka reception center. The group is quite difficult to trek than the other group from Cyamudongo and they are over 40 individuals in the Group.
The same as the group of Cyamudongo, the fragmented forest from Nyungwe National Park. The group here is the most advisable group to trek as they are habituated. The Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe always starts at 4:30 and you take off from Gisakura reception center for an hour and some few minutes. The client is in charged for picking up the guide from this reception and bring him back at the end of the visit. To get to Cyamudongo forest, a 4×4 safaris car is must because the road is not tarmaced. It is full of stones and if you are in a small car great chance you have is getting stuck.
Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park by Road
Getting to Nyungwe by road is the most commonly used type of transport by most travellers visiting the park. Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park by road is the cheapest and most adventurous that travellers get to see more of the countryside during the ride, admire the rolling hills of Rwanda as they drive past them, and get to visit a number of attractions en-route say the Nyanza King’s Palace and the Gikongoro genocide memorial centre, giving travellers a snippet of the historical background of Rwanda and learn one or two things along the way. Travellers getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park by road, in the company of a tour guide for Rwanda safari tours organised by a tour company, make as numerous stops as the travellers may like, with the driver-guide driving slowly past worth to note features as well as stop at some photogenic areas. Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park is only 4-6 hours away from Kigali.
From Kigali, travellers drive south words passing by a number of towns including Huye, which is only 32 km from Kigali on a very smooth road with some sharp turns that require drivers to be extremely careful. For travellers on a self-drive to Nyungwe Forest National, noting these directions could be good;
- From Kigali, drive south west to Muhanga, then south to Nyanza and proceed to Huye town.
- From Huye town, proceed westwards to Nyamagabe which is near to the park’s entrance
Travelling by bus to the park is also possible, though of course, it wouldn’t get you in the park itself, though there are some that drive through the park. Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park by bus has travellers taking a bus from Nyabugogo bus terminal in Kigali to Rusizi and then get off at Uwinka centre in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Travelling by bus has travellers spending quite a long time on the road, up to 8 hours even. Planning accordingly is therefore important. It is advised that travellers get to the bus terminal very early in the morning and get on the very first bus out. Some of the public transport companies that operate Kigali to Rusizi include Ritco Express that goes through Kigali-Karongi-Rusizi, Alpha Express that goes through Kigali-Nyungwe-Rusizi as well as Omega Express that goes through Kigali-Nyungwe-Rusizi as well. These public transport companies charge a substantial amount, so travellers after experiencing Rwanda as a local can have this option.
Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park by Air
Getting to Nyungwe by air is the fastest way to get to the park, though quite costly. There are a number of airlines that offer chartered flights from Kigali to Kamembe national airport. RwandAir has a minimum of 9 flights a week from Kigali International Airport to Kamembe national airport. Kamembe national airport is only 32km from Nyungwe Forest Lodge which offers helicopter pickups. If staying in other lodges, you will have a short road drive from Kamembe national airport.
Flying with Akagera Aviation has travellers getting on a helicopter from Kigali to Nyungwe Forest National Park. This helicopter ride is a great opportunity to enjoy the scenery along the way, say the tea plantation field.
Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park by Water
Getting to Nyungwe by water is one great and very thrilling way to get to the park. Here, travellers move from Rubavu or Karongi Kamembe to Nyungwe on a boat ride on Lake Kivu. This boat ride on Lake Kivu is a great way for travellers to explore the lake, enjoy the view of the island as well as interact with the locals that you may come in contact with. This can take anything from 6-8 hours.
Getting to Nyungwe is not so hard and neither should you make or believe it to be. Planning in advance would have you avoiding loads of mishaps. The best and easy way, however, is for you to have a tour company make for you all the necessary arrangements. Most tour companies offer transportation throughout the safari if you book a tour package with them. Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to start planning your Nyungwe Forest National Park adventure.
Good time for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe
Chimps are most easily seen in the early morning which means you wake up around 4:00 and 4:30AM you have to be at one of the three reception centers of Nyungwe depend on which side of park. By 5:00 am you head to the starting point of trek and no matter if you are going to trek Cyamudongo.
June, July to late August, fig trees are rich in fruits making this a blooming period. This is a particularly good time for Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe and it is also not a rainy season. No more than two groups of visitors are permitted to view a particular group of primates on a given day and then when you meet them you are allowed only one hour.
Other chimpanzee trekking destinations in Rwanda
Nyungwe national park is not the only home of chimpanzees but also the newest fourth national park of Rwanda is also home of Chimpanzees. Gishwati Mukura national park in the west of Rwanda is among the areas with a high population of chimpanzees. Most of these have been habituated and are available for tracking. In case Nyungwe is taken, one can opt for Chimpanzee trekking in Gishwati Mukura National Park.
What to carry for chimps trekking
Some of the essentials to carry when going chimpanzee trekking for one to have a successful trek include;
- Hiking shoes to ease your hiking adventure in the park. Some of the hiking trails in the park tend to be slippery therefore you should get good hiking shoes easy hiking.
- Light clothes, during hiking in Nyungwe national park it is advisable to put on light clothes to make hiking easy because heavy clothes can slow you down during the different activities in the park
- Insect repellent should not miss out on your packing lists because, in Nyungwe national park, there are a number of insects like mosquitoes among others that can spread diseases, therefore, an insect repellent is a very important item that should not be forgotten.
- Garden gloves; the garden gloves will help you during trekking because you might touch a thorny tree without knowing. The garden gloves will also protect you from germs and they can be removed during the one hour with the chimpanzees while taking photos.
- A Camera is an optional item but for purposes of keeping memories, you should carry a camera to capture beautiful moments while in the park for a memorable Rwanda tour.
- Long sleeved shirt and trouser; the long sleeved clothes will protect your body from getting hurt since you will be trekking in the forest full of thorny trees and will also protect you from safari ant bites.
- Walking stick; when going for chimpanzee trekking you are given a walking stick which will give you support while trekking in the jungle especially during the rainy season when the forest is muddy and slippery.
- Energy snacks; visitors going for a chimpanzee trekking safari should carry energy snacks such as packed lunch and drinking water because chimpanzee trekking is unpredictable in that it can take a few hours or even a whole day depending on their location therefore the energy snacks will give you energy to continue trekking.
- Warm sweater; the sweater will give you warmth especially during morning and evening hours due to the fact that the Nyungwe forest is a rainforest.
- Waterproof rain jacket/poncho; the rain jacket will protect you from rain in case it rains during chimpanzee trekking and also protect all your items.
- Backpack; the backpack will be used to keep all the items for your chimpanzee trekking activity for example camera, batteries, insect repellent, energy snacks among others.
- Porter; porters in Nyungwe forest national park are always at the starting point and in case you need someone to carry your backpack or give you a pull and a push during chimpanzee trekking the porters will be available to hire.
- Long socks; the long socks will be tucked into the long trousers so as to prevent you from the safari ants which might enter your trousers during trekking.
Guidelines for Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe
- You should keep a distance away from the primates to avoid contraction of diseases to the primates
- While taking pictures of the primates it is advisable to avoid using a flash that can scare the primates which can lead them to be aggressive.
- Littering in the park during chimpanzee trekking is highly prohibited because it can cause accidents to the primates
- Feeding the chimpanzees your packed food is highly prohibited because it can make the primates sick which is a threat to them.
- Unnecessary movements during contacts with the primates should be avoided
- Unnecessary noise should be avoided because it can scare off the primates.
- You should always follow the lead of the guide to avoid any accidents in the park since the primates are wild animals, they can easily attack you.
Chimpanzee Trekking Permit
Before you carry out chimpanzee trekking in the park, you should first obtain a chimpanzee trekking permit in order to participate in the activity. This can be obtained from trusted tour companies or tour operators that you’ve booked your trip with or you can obtain your permit at the entrance of the Nyungwe national park from the Uwinka reception area. But to be on a safe side, it is better to book your permit in advance so that you don’t miss out on the activity.
Chimpanzee trekking fees
- Foreign Non-residents pay: $90
- Foreign Residents pay: $ 60
- Rwandans pay: 5,000 Rwf
- Nationals from the East Africa Community (EAC) pays: $10
- East Africa Community (EAC) Foreign Residents pay: $60
- Students who are Rwanda citizens pay: 2,500 Rwf
- East Africa Community (EAC) students pay: $5
- Students who are foreign residents pay: $30