Over the past decade, Rwanda has emerged as a top primate viewing destination, offering thrilling adventures like gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking. While the country is known for its mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, it is also home to a variety of monkeys, including colobus, golden, L’Hoest’s, owl-faced, Dent’s, blue, and vervet monkeys, as well as olive baboons and nocturnal primates such as potto and bush babies. If you’re considering a visit to Rwanda, chances are it’s because of these incredible adventures that aim to conserve endangered species, protect their habitats, and support local communities.
Nyungwe Forest National Park, located in the southwestern mountainous region of Rwanda near the border with Burundi, is a primate-rich destination that offers a unique chimpanzee trekking experience. This blog post will delve into what you can expect on a chimpanzee trekking trip to Nyungwe National Park, allowing you to immerse yourself in the wonders of this pristine rainforest.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the oldest rainforests in Africa, characterized by its stunning mountainous landscapes and abundant wildlife. While the park is home to a diverse range of species, including 12 primate species, the chimpanzees take center stage. However, during your chimpanzee trekking adventure, you can also encounter other fascinating primates such as L’Hoest’s monkeys, which are endemic to the Albertine Rift.
As you venture through Nyungwe, the forest’s natural wonders will captivate you. With over 1,068 plant species, including 140 orchid species, nature enthusiasts will find themselves in awe. The forest is also a paradise for bird lovers, with 322 bird species and 120 butterfly species fluttering through the canopy. Additionally, Nyungwe is home to more than 70 mammal species, offering the possibility of unexpected encounters with animals like serval cats, mongooses, and even leopards. Expert trackers and armed guards accompany all excursions to ensure your safety and enhance your experience.
Chimpanzees are our closest relatives, sharing 98% of our DNA. Observing these fascinating creatures in the wild provides a unique opportunity to understand both them and ourselves while appreciating the natural world. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park offers a close encounter with these remarkable beings in one of Africa’s oldest rainforests.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to more than 500 chimpanzees, with two groups habituated for human visits. Trekking in small groups with an expert guide and armed guards, you’ll set out early in the morning to find one of these groups. The duration of the trek can vary from 20 minutes to several hours, as the chimpanzees freely move within the park’s expansive 340 square miles. However, the expertise of the trackers ensures a seamless tracking experience. Once you locate the chimpanzees, you’ll have the opportunity to spend at least an hour observing their behavior. This time limit ensures that visitors respect the boundaries of the wild chimpanzees.
Expect a challenging trek through rugged rainforest terrain, including steep, slippery, and muddy paths. Prioritize your fitness level and pack appropriate attire, as you’ll navigate thick vegetation to reach the chimpanzees. Sturdy footwear is essential for the trek. While permits can be obtained directly from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) office for $90 per person, we recommend securing your permit through Trek Africa Expeditions to simplify the logistics.
Beyond chimpanzee trekking, Nyungwe Forest National Park offers a paradise for hikers. With over 11 scenic hiking trails, you can immerse yourself in the park’s rugged landscape for a week-long guided hiking adventure. If you’re already planning a gorilla trekking trip in Volcanoes National Park, consider adding nature hiking in Nyungwe to your itinerary.
The Igishigishigi Trail is the most famous, leading you on a 2.1-kilometer hike to breathtaking views of the Canopy Walkway. This trail, named after the giant tree ferns dotting its path, is a must-visit. To enhance your experience, combine it with the longer Imbaraga or Umuyove Trails. The park charges a fee of $60 per person for hiking.
Bird enthusiasts will be thrilled to explore Nyungwe’s trails, where they can spot 322 bird species, including 29 endemics. The Red-collared Babbler, in particular, finds Rwanda to be its preferred habitat. With the guidance of expert bird guides, you can discover species like Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Nightjar, Grauer’s Warbler, Regal Sunbird, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Blue-headed Sunbird, Purple-breasted Sunbird, and Neumann’s Warbler.
If you arrive in Rwanda via Kigali International Airport, you can expect a 5-7 hour drive of approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) to Nyungwe National Park‘s visitation center in Rusizi. The well-paved highways ensure a smooth journey. If you plan to combine your chimpanzee trekking trip with gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, anticipate a 4-6 hour drive between Rusizi and Ruhengeri, taking you along the scenic shores of Lake Kivu.
Nyungwe Forest National Park offers a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s preferences and budgets. For a luxurious stay with premium amenities, consider One&Only Nyungwe House or Nyungwe Forest Lodge. Gisakura Guesthouse and Nyungwe Top View Hill provide comfortable mid-range options. If you prefer budget accommodations, the nearby towns offer various guesthouses and homestays. Campsites are also available for those who enjoy camping amidst nature.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is open for hiking and chimpanzee trekking year-round. However, the period from October to May, which coincides with the wet seasons, is ideal for chimpanzee trekking. During this time, food is abundant, increasing the chances of encountering the chimpanzees. The drier months from June to September are excellent for general hiking and spotting other primates.
Embarking on a chimpanzee trekking trip to Nyungwe Forest National Park is an unforgettable experience that supports the conservation of endangered species. Trek Africa Expeditions can assist you in managing the logistics and ensure a seamless chimpanzee trekking experience in Nyungwe National Park. Reach out to us at email@example.com to secure your spot and embark on this remarkable adventure!