Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest
Chimpanzee trekking the main tourist attraction, highlight and is the driving force of coming to Rwanda. However, there is a lot to do more than that and you can see a lot in this country of a thousand hills than just the famous Mountain Gorillas. The cost of the Gorilla permits is definitely discouraging many from visiting Rwanda, so come and enjoy an equally fantastic experience for a fraction of the cost and track the Chimpanzees instead.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest starts off from three reception centres that are Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakura where the tourists meet the Park rangers and are expected to be at the reception as early as 4: 30am and by 5 am; you drive to the starting point of the trailhead. There are the trackers who go ahead of the trekking group of finding them and communicate with the ranger guides. The tourists spend only 1 hour with the Chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park and get to observe them so closely going about their own lives and see the human-like features and behaviour that makes them our closest relatives with 98.7 % DNA. The Chimps also communicate by way of deafening screams, the loud hoots and booming hitting of the tree barks and the buttress.
These habituated Chimpanzee community in Nyungwe forest is also bigger with about 60 individuals and due to the greatness of the forest and terrain. It gives few chances of seeing the Chimps, while the group in Cyamudongo forest that has a smaller number of about 30 Chimps giving the most successful sightings that are given in a small size that is covered to find the Chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking experience is so different from that of Mountain Gorilla trekking as the Chimps are running around in the tree canopies and there may be running after to catch up and the sightings are more rushed and sporadic.
The section of Nyungwe Forest National Park where the Chimpanzees are tracked also begins in Cyamudongo, a 4 and half hour drive from Kigali. This forest is also Africa’s oldest montane forest and its home to over 13 species of primates including over 500 Chimpanzees. Also as you pass through the forest, you will hear the whoops and the cackles of L’Hoest’s and the black-faced vervet monkeys.
The main challenge with these Chimpanzees is with finding them, as they are not so habituated and are always shy, also their human instincts are so strong and they show a lot of curiosity and the eagerness when the tourists are around.
The humans and the Chimpanzees share 98% of their DNA, making them more exciting to be observed, most especially when they display what we call human behaviour. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest is so fast-paced and so exciting and in our opinion which makes it more of the adventure. There are also few well-established paths in the denser forests to go through and discovering them on one’s own also makes it more exciting.