In the heart of Rwanda’s natural wonders lies Nyungwe Forest National Park, a haven for chimpanzee enthusiasts. With a population of approximately 400 chimpanzees, Nyungwe forest boasts the highest numbers of these charismatic primates in Rwanda. Chimpanzee trekking takes center stage within the lush embrace of this national park, offering an unforgettable encounter with our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.
As the day of adventure dawns, travelers find themselves at the crossroads of three starting points: Gisakura, Uwinka, and Katabi. Here, a brief orientation unfolds, outlining the essential dos and don’ts of chimpanzee trekking. Armed with knowledge and anticipation, adventurers venture into the forest, ready to uncover the enigmatic world of these fascinating creatures. Unlike their mountain gorilla counterparts, chimpanzee trekking presents an affordable opportunity, with a fee of just 60 USD, making it an essential highlight of any Rwanda adventure.
Meeting the chimpanzees is an awe-inspiring experience, revealing uncanny parallels to human behavior. Observing their feeding habits and witnessing the tender care that adult females provide to their offspring evokes a profound connection. It’s a glimpse into a world where nature’s intelligence intersects with our own. A valid trekking permit serves as a passport to engage with these gentle giants for a precious hour, while respecting a minimal distance of seven meters ensures their well-being and protection.
When is the prime time to embark on Nyungwe Forest’s exquisite adventures? The park’s temperate climate beckons during the dry season, extending from late May to early September and December to February. Nyungwe’s elevation, nestled between 1600 to 2000 meters above sea level, provides an ideal setting for exploration. Benevolent daytime highs ranging from 25°C to 27°C (77°F to 81°F) offer a comfortable canvas for your escapades. As the sun dips below the horizon, cooler nights are embraced, accompanied by temperatures that hover around 13.5°C (56°F), seldom exceeding 16°C (61°F).
Reaching Nyungwe Forest National Park unfurls several avenues, each leading to a wondrous journey of discovery.
By Road: For those seeking the scenic route, a road trip unveils the gradual transition from Kigali to the captivating embrace of Nyungwe. Embark on a 200km/124mi odyssey from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, via Muhanga and the regal ambiance of King’s Palace in Nyanza. Traverse the landscape to Butare, where a winding path beckons toward the park, culminating in Gisekura, the park headquarters. Alternatively, a more direct route can be charted from Huye (Butare) covering a distance of 87km/54mi. This route often includes an overnight stay in Huye, an astute choice that tempers the journey’s demands. Travelers arriving via Rusizi/Kamembe airport are met with a relatively shorter 55km/34mi journey to Nyungwe, culminating in Rusizi’s tranquil embrace.
By Air: For those seeking swifter passage, the skies beckon with Akagera Aviation’s charter helicopter transfers to Nyungwe Forest. Alternatively, Rwanda Air provides a gateway through Kamembe airport in Rusizi, a seamless entry point merely an hour’s drive from the park headquarters.
Inscribed within Nyungwe’s verdant landscapes are the echoes of ancient mysteries and the harmonious rhythm of nature’s symphony. As you embark on a journey to meet chimpanzees and explore the unspoiled terrain, let Nyungwe unveil the secrets of our shared ancestry and immerse you in a realm where the wild thrives and whispers tales of existence.