Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda: Nyungwe Forest Chimp Tracking, Fees, Accommodation and Best time to book
Nyungwe Forest National Park within the south-western part of Rwanda is the most ideal and thrilling destination for primate enthusiasts and majority of travellers will at least choose from the numerous primate experiences, the commonest being chimpanzee trekking.
Sighting these extraordinary and endangered primates infrequent as unwavering or as clear and nonchalant as you will possibly enjoy with the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, given the closeness of chimpanzees within the dense forest as well as their quality varying significantly. Nonetheless, the entertaining playfulness as well as incredible human-like behavior of these creatures make your long and exhausting day worthwhile. The most thrilling experience of encountering these Great apes (our closest cousins) is seeing them high up in the trees before they finally come down to find food, thus make sure you have a good quality camera and don’t also forget a pair of binoculars to capture these unrivalled moments.
How to prepare for Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda (Nyungwe Forest National Park)
Preparations for chimpanzee treks begin early with breakfast at the Lodge followed by pick-up by your professional private driver for a transfer to the Uwinka Reception Center (Park Headquarters). Here you will meet Park Rangers and trekking guides for briefing/registration before heading down into the forest to search for these endangered Creatures.
Visitors planning to enjoy chimpanzee treks within Nyungwe Forest National Park have to be at least 15 years old to avoid uncertainties in the Park. Duration of chimpanzee treks in this magnificent National Park highly depends on the movement/location of these endangered Great Apes, because it takes between half an hour and 4 hours to locate them. Once you get into their presence, you will have a maximum of one hour to observe and photograph them.
A maximum of 6 persons can trek a habituated chimpanzee Troop and are accompanied by an armed Ranger and expert guide, although there is also a chance to hire a porter to offer a helping hand as you trek through the unforgettable trek with muddy/or slippery path. It is always advisable to have a rainproof backpack (or better still camera kit) to protectively carry your trekking equipment during the trek. Always remember to carry enough drinking water with you throughout the trek in addition to taking an energy giving snacks.
Of the two habituated Chimpanzee Troops in Nyungwe Forest National Park, one is within the Uwinka sector while the other is in the adjacent Cyamudongo forest.
Best time for Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda
Chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park are most easily-seen in the early morning hours (about 4:00 and 5:00am) hence you have to be at Uwinka Reception Center early enough for briefing so that by 5:30am you are at the trailhead of the trek.
The months of June, July and August are dry months but also characterized by fig trees that are rich in fruits hence making it a blossoming period. This is undeniably the most perfect time for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Kit for undertaking chimpanzee treks within Rwanda
Forest floors and hiking trails through Nyungwe Forest National Park become muddy/slippery during some months (wet season), thus sturdy walking shoes are recommended. A walking stick is also handy as this point and don’t forget to pack a rain jacket because rain downpours sometimes happen when they are not expected. Wearing long trousers and long sleeved shirts are important when trekking through the patches of stinging nettles, thistles and any other unpleasant vegetation. Don’t forget a camera for capturing all chimpanzee antics and human-like behavior from playing, resting, and munching on vegetation to copulating. Gardening gloves are handy for protecting your hand from thorns or stinging nettles when finding support during treks and don’t forget energy snacks as well as enough drinking water to keep you energized and hydrated during these treks.
Chimpanzee trekking permits for Rwanda
Chimpanzee trekking permits for Rwanda cost $100 per person per trek. Bookings for these permits can be done directly from Rwanda Development Board or indirectly through a credible Tour Operator. These fees include Park entrance fees, armed Ranger and an expert guide assigned to move along with your group. Chimpanzee permits alongside passports are required during registration and briefing prior to venturing into the natural habitat of these Great Apes.
Chimpanzee trekking rules and regulations in Rwanda
A minimum distance of 8 meters has to be maintained from the chimpanzees to avoid transmitting diseases (remember that they are 98.7% related to humans and therefore vulnerable to human communicable diseases), avoid littering in the Park, avoid eating and drinking in the presence of these Great Apes, avoid sudden movements when observing and photographing the chimpanzees, keep within your group and follow the lead of the guides to avoid unexpected accidents within the Park, avoid loud noises and spend a maximum of one hour in the presence of these Great Apes.
Accommodation facilities in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Travellers trekking chimpanzees in Rwanda can stay within Gisakura Guesthouse, Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Inzozi Beach Hotel, Nyungwe Top Hill View Hotel and One & Only Nyungwe House among others.