Chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda is a once in lifetime experience, great opportunity tourists on Rwanda safari get to encounter chimpanzees while in their natural habitat and not at the zoo. Before you come across chimpanzee community, you will engage in a trek lasting for about 2-4 hours with the experienced park guide on lead.
All treks to see chimpanzees in Rwanda are conducted in already habituated chimpanzee communities. The treks start after briefing where visitors get insight into the guidelines/rules to be followed during or while with chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee tracking destinations in Rwanda
Chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda is carried out in any of the two locations- Nyungwe Forest National Park or Gishwati-Mukura National Park. The two forest parks in Rwanda are a home to significant chimpanzee population and tourists visit the already habituated communities.
Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe
Nyungwe Forest National Park is an extensive natural rain-forest park located in the Southern province of Rwanda. It is the country’s leading chimpanzee tracking destination with 2 locations available for visitors to realize their dream- that is Uwinka and Cyamudongo. Tracking chimpanzees in Nyungwe begins with briefing early morning and at 8:00am, actual search for these apes starts with the guide and strictly one hour will be spent face to face upon locating them.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a vast natural forest park protecting large population of primates thanks to its 1000sq.kms area coverage. A total of 13 species of primates are all supported within Nyungwe Forest and they include more than 500 chimpanzees.
Other species of primates that this park prides itself of include silver monkeys, Angola colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, baboons, Rwenzori colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys, vervet monkeys, 3 species of bush babies and more.
The two chimpanzee communities include 60 chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest and small portion exists in Cyamudongo Forest, about 30 individuals. Visiting chimpanzees in Nyungwe or Gishwati-Mukura is only for persons above 15 years.
Chimpanzee tracking permits Nyungwe
Chimpanzee tracking permits/tickets are essential and should be obtained in advance before visiting Rwanda to see chimpanzees. Chimpanzee permits in Rwanda are issued out at USD100 per person and few permits are available for booking every day.
Chimpanzee tracking permits in Nyungwe can be obtained through a reliable tour operator or directly via Rwanda Development Board reservation team. The cost of chimpanzee ticket/permit covers park entry fees, service of the park guide, an hour spent with chimpanzees, etc.
At Nyungwe Forest National Park, places to consider for overnight stay include Gisakura Guesthouse, Nyungwe Top View Hotel, Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Inzozi Beach Hotel and others.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is also best to visit for canopy walk, colobus monkey tracking, forest walk/hiking, community tours- visit the tea plantations in the surrounding areas, birding (a total of 310 bird species are all in Nyungwe National Park).
Chimpanzee tracking in Gishwati-Mukura
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is a compact natural pack comprising of two forests- Mukura and Gishwati Forests that were emerged in 2015. This led to creation of the now 34sq.kms Gishwati-Mukura National Park, a new Rwanda safari park still offering refreshing chimpanzee trekking experiences.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park supports a good number of eastern chimpanzees plus other primates such as baboons, l’hoest monkeys, blue monkeys, etc. At Gishwati Mukura, there are still limited accommodation choices and Gishwati Lodge is the available option.
When to visit Rwanda for chimpanzee tracking
Tracking chimpanzees of Rwanda can be done at any time though it is best to visit during the dry season. There are 2 dry seasons Rwanda experiences each year all ideal for chimp trekking- the extended dry season which occurs in June to September, December to February.
The advantage of visiting Nyungwe or Gishwati-Mukura for chimpanzee tracking during the dry season is that you enjoy treks to see chimpanzees less of stress of navigating through the muddy or slippery ground. Little or no rains are experienced during the dry spell unlike during the wet season- March to May, October to November when heavy rains occur and come with their advantages and disadvantages.
What to carry
Consider packing lightly and with essentials such as waterproof walking or hiking boots/shoes, good cameras but should be free of flashlight, long sleeved shirts, daypack, sweater, raincoat, first aid kit, sunscreen lotion, anti-malarial tabs, trousers, snacks, chimpanzee permits, bottled water, safari hat, to mention but a few.