Chimpanzee Trekking is the second option after gorilla trekking however, chimpanzee trekking is less strenuous and doesn’t require much fitness like gorilla trekking. On the other hand, chimpanzee trekking is the top tourist activity in Nyungwe National Park. The park is situated in the southwestern part of Rwanda bordering Burundi, Lake Kivu, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nyungwe National Park is one of the oldest Montane forests in Africa and is famous for hosting about 12 primate species including Chimpanzees, blue monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, Golden monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, crowned monkeys, Dent’s Mona Monkeys, Velvet monkeys, Olive baboon, Grey-checked Mangabeys, Angolan Colobus Monkeys among others. In other words, Nyungwe National Park protects the majority of the primates in Rwanda.
Nyungwe is a high-altitude mountainous rainforest that is found in the southern part of Rwanda and was conserved in the year of 2005. In the same year (2005), the government of Rwanda declared Nyungwe as a national park, and to date, it is the largest protected mountain forest in Africa and this covers an area that is approximately about 1600 to 2000 square kilometers.
This hike starts off from three reception centers that is; Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakura where the tourists meet the park rangers and the tourists are expected to be at the reception as early as 4:30 am and 5:00 am then you drive to the starting point of the trek into the forest.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park starts very early in the morning due to the fact that they are seen in the tree branches- jumping from one branch to another so, trekkers keep on chasing after them. Unlike in Uganda, chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe requires average fitness levels.
Nyungwe National Park is known for hosting over 500 chimpanzees however, they are semi-habituated which makes the activity hectic. A maximum of eight people is allowed to meet chimpanzees per session and are escorted by rangers who keep on communicating with their colleagues who keep on monitoring chimpanzee movements to cut the trek short.
If you are planning a safari in Rwanda to see Chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park, prepare proper trekking gear like hiking shoes or boots, a long-sleeved shirt, and a rain jacket plus you are advised to carry at least 2 liters of drinking water and some snacks.
Chimpanzee trekking permit in Nyungwe national park costs US490 for non-residents while Rwanda citizens and East African residents pay US$60. Nyungwe is big with about 60 members though it’s hard to see these chimpanzees because of the rugged terrain. The group that is at Cyamudongo has got a smaller number which is approximately about 30 chimpanzees and it offers the most successful sightings given the small size.
Chimpanzee trekking can also be done in Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Why Rwanda Receives Many Visitors For Primates safari Despite Of The High Cost
Among the three countries hosting Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda gorilla permit is by far the most expensive at US$1500. Uganda’s Gorilla permit is as low as US$700 while the Democratic Republic of Congo sells permits at US$400. All in all, Rwanda still receives a reasonable number of guests ready to trek gorillas but why?
- Vigorous advertisement:
Rwanda collaborates with Arsenal, one of the most popular premier league football clubs to market Rwanda as a country. In doing saw, the country wins the support of many international visitors to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking among other reasons. Rwanda also advertises on other platforms like websites, social media, and mass media among others.
- Amazing relief of Rwanda:
Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills” accompanied by mighty Virunga mountains like Sabyingyo, Karisimbi, Bisoke among others. The road from Kigali city to Volcanoes National Park is amazing because it takes you through the rolling hills of Rwanda with clear views of the Virunga mountains.
- Easy access to Volcanoes National Park:
It’s 2hrs’ drive from Kigali city and Airport to the gorilla park. The road to the park is well maintained to allow visitors to reach the park quickly and easily. Easy accessibility to the park also allows visitors to do a one-day gorilla safari in Volcanoes National Park.
Rwanda makes 1 day Gorilla safari possible because of the short distance from Kigali Airport to Gorilla Park. You only need 2hrs drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park so, visitors find it wise to pay for the expensive Gorilla permit but saves time.
- Rwanda is politically stable:
The prevailing peace in Rwanda also acts as a pull factor for a large number of travelers yearning to trek Gorillas. It’s on record that many visitors visit Rwanda and return back peacefully.
- Other attractions in the park:
Volcanoes National Park is endowed with lots of tourist attractions like birds, golden monkeys, insects, unique vegetation, volcanic mountains among others.
- Improved infrastructures:
Rwanda has tried to improve its roads, hotels, camps, Tents, Lodges, and schools among others. Such amazing facilities attract tourists to trek Rwanda Gorillas than taking the cheaper Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo options.
- Long distance to Ugandan and DRC Gorilla parks:
Its an 8-9hrs drive from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks and about 5hrs drive from Kigali to Virunga National Park.
Though Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo offer cheaper gorilla permits, Rwanda still competes favorably in Gorilla tourism. However note, access to the gorilla parks requires a 4×4 vehicle because the roads to the trekking start points are in a bad state. If you are planning a self-drive safari in Rwanda for primates tracking, make sure the vehicle you hire has a functioning 4wd to avoid getting stuck during the trip.