Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda
Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda is one of the major tourist activities that travelers love to engage in as they explore Rwanda and its amazing features of the land of 1000 hills. Rwanda is one of the African countries that is privileged to have primates living in their natural habitats and habituated for viewing by humans. Because of that Rwanda has become a traveler’s hub with hundreds of travelers flocking the African country yearly to get a chance to view these mammals and have one of those adventurous treks.
Of course the first primates that come to one’s mind are the mountain gorillas but apart from being one of the three countries that is home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas, Rwanda is also home the other primates that include but not limited to Chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees like other apes share almost 95% of DNA with humans. Chimpanzees are loud mammals communicating through deafening screams that keep bouncing back on tree barks. They live in tropical forests and savannahs in Africa including Rwanda. The chimpanzees are between big and Small weighing 32-60 kgs and the males are normally heavier than the females. Their bodies are coats of black hair except for the faces that are brown.
Chimpanzees in Rwanda are found in the southwest of Rwanda, about four to five hours from Kigali city in Cyamudongo and Uwinka in Nyungwe National park and chimpanzees are the biggest attraction of the park. Nyungwe forest is also the oldest montane forest in Africa and it’s a perfect habitat for the chimpanzees.
As of 2019 two families of chimpanzees are semi-habituated in the park for human viewing on the numerous trekking experiences that are offered by the park. The families are distributed one in the bigger Nyugwe forest and the other in Cyamudongo forest – a small part of the Nyungwe forest; though Cyamudongo forest is part of the Nyungwe forest and Nyungwe national park it’s physically detached from the bigger forest.
The habituated chimpanzee family in the bigger Nyungwe forest has about 60 members, which is a bigger number compared to the family in Cyamudongo however, the forest terrain and its magnitude makes it had to trek but also is perfect for the shy chimpanzees to hide away, which gives you a really minimal chance to see the chimpanzees compared to the chance in Cyamudongo. Cyamudongo’s habituated family has about 30 members and the forest is friendlier for a chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda experience.
On a typical chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda safari one, you will have to have obtained a trekking permit in advance for you to be able to go on this trek. Then on the day of trekking, you will need be up early at 4:30 am so that at 5am you are at your reception area, where you will be briefed and you will meet your ranger for the trek. The park has 3 reception areas Uwinka, Gisakura and Kitabi. At 5 am you will be driven to the starting point, which is about an hour from the reception area. Normally trackers go ahead of you to locate the chimpanzee family since the chimpanzees are always on the move within the forest.
Since the chimpanzees in Rwanda are semi-habituated, it may take you along while before you actually locate the chimpanzees but when you do you will have ample time with these amazing primates since Rwanda does have a time cap on the chimpanzees like Uganda which caps the time to one hour. Feel free to take all the photos of the primates and selfies as you want within your time, because when it’s over you will be saying bye to the primates.
As stated these chimps are semi habituated so your encounters with them maybe a few glances and real quality time where they will stay and enjoy your company, so before the trek hope for the best but prepare you self for anything.
Chimpanzees, unlike Gorillas, are always on the move, jumping and running up and down trees so even when you are close to them they may be running up and about and you may feel like you have not really spent time with them; but that’s the way they are so making the most of the moments you are with them.
On your trek, you will also appreciate the forest terrains and see other forest animals as well as birds. Each trekking experience is done is a group of 8 or 10 people and your ranger leads the trek, allowing the trek to take the pace of the slowest person so that no one is left behind or lost during the trek, the duration of the trek totally depends on the where the chimpanzees are in the forest and if they are nearer you trek will be shorter, if they are far the trek will be further.
For this chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda adventure, you will need to be quite physically fit and 15 years and above. Your dressing should be comfortable but realistic for a forest trek, especially your shoes, they should be able to hike and waterproof to avoid any forest mishaps. Don’t forget this is a long trek, so pack a meal and enough water for the trek.
So how much does this experience cost a person? Only 90 USD. The chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda costs 90 USD, which is the amount of money used to acquire a chimpanzee trekking permit. The permit gives you access to the trekking mountains and allows you to spend time with the chimpanzees. This means if you don’t acquire a permit you won’t be trekking or taking part in this experience. Permits are booked or purchased at least 3 months in advance.
Book your safari and plan to have a chimpanzee trekking safari soon.