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Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is an opportunity for primate lovers to venture into the jungles of Rwanda to meet some of the habituated chimpanzee communities. This activity is second to the popular gorilla trek that made the country popular and is conducted within two places-Nyungwe Forest National Park which is the most popular for the trek and the new Gishwati-Mukura National Park which is not yet fully developed thus our attention will be focused on the former.

There are currently two habituated communities/troops of Chimpanzees within Nyungwe Forest National Park with one being within the larger Nyungwe Forest with 60-100 individuals while the second one in the adjacent Cyamudongo forest with only 30 individuals.

How Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is conducted

At the break of dawn, you will meet at any of the three reception centers-the Uwinka, Gisakura or Kitabi Reception Center for briefing on the dos and don’ts of the activity. Together with other trekkers you will be led into the jungles of Nyungwe Forest National Park by armed ranger and tour guides on the trail of the Chimpanzees. Every Trek is different but expect to spot several residents of the jungles especially primates and birds.

After 30 minutes to 2 hours, you will spot the Chimpanzee gazing down from the tree branches or a troop of tree-dwelling Chimpanzees will be seen catapulting through the forest canopy with other members freely playing. After spending one hour taking their photos and studying their unique features, return to your place of stay.

Cost of Chimpanzee trekking permits in Rwanda

Chimpanzee trekking permits for Rwanda cost only $100 per person and usually include Park entrance fees and ranger fees (not tips).

Guidelines for trekking chimpanzees in Rwanda

Chimpanzees are 98.7% related to humans and thus tourists who feel sick (especially with flue and cough) must not visit them.

Flash cameras for taking Chimpanzee photos can scare them.

Avoid mimicking chimpanzee vocalizations because they might interpret it as provocation which might call for charging and self-defense.

Avoid eating, smoking and drinking while in the presence of the Chimpanzees.

Maintain a distance of 8 meters while watching the chimpanzee and even when they come close, slowly push away from them.

Littering the Park during tracking is not allowed because litter can sometimes act as breeding places for germs.

Making noise while tracking or when in the presence of the chimpanzees is not allowed in Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Best time to trek chimpanzees in Rwanda

Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda can be conducted all year round because whichever season you choose will come with advantages and disadvantages. The dry season that happens twice a year is in the months of mid-December, January, February, June, July, August and September. This is when food for the Chimpanzees become scarce hence requiring them to move to far locations. This also means trekkers will take a longer time to find them but the advantage with this season is that forest trails will not be muddy and slippery thus less challenging.

The wet season also appears twice a year in the months of October to mid-December as well as March to May and is characterized by heavy rains, more vegetation and food for the chimpanzees hence the apes will not move far in-search for food and it will be easier to find them. However, the demerit here is that forest trails will be muddy and slippery hence making the activity quite challenging.

What to carry for a chimpanzee trekking trip to Rwanda

If you are planning to trek the chimpanzees from Rwanda, then make sure to carry warm clothes of neutral colors (long sleeved shirts and safari pants), sweater, rain jacket, hiking boots, flashlight, camera, toiletries, insect repellant, a hat, pair of binoculars, waterproof backpack and your travel documents among others.

Where to stay

The accommodation facilities in Nyungwe Forest National Park are One&Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Nyungwe Top View Hotel and Gisakura Guest House among others.

Other attractions to see in Nyungwe Forest National Park while trekking chimpanzees

While trekking the Chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park, expect to see the owl-faced monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys, Angolan colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, Rwenzori Colobus monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, elephants, bushbucks and numerous bird species that will spice up your chimpanzee trekking experience.

How to get to Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest National Park is situated within the south-west of Rwanda and about 5-6 hours’ drive from Kigali City.

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