Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda takes place in Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda’s oldest National Park and its neighbor Cyamudongo Forest, in southwestern Rwanda. Nyungwe Forest harbors the highest population of chimpanzees in Africa about 500 individuals, and of which two troops have been habituated for the chimpanzee tracking adventure, one troop is in the main Nyungwe forest, and the second one is in Cyamudongo – a small patch of forest located to the east of Nyungwe forest and formerly part of it.
The chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda sets off from three reception centers; Kitabi, Uwinka (main) and Gisakura where tourists can meet the park ranger guides. The tourists are expected to be at the reception center as early as 4.30am and at 5 am drive to the starting point of the trek into the forest. The chimpanzees nest in a new place every night because they are always moving, there are trackers who go ahead of the trekking group to find them and communicate with the ranger guides. Tourists spend only one hour with the chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park and get to observe them closely going about their lives and see the human-like features and behavior that make them our closest relatives with 98.7% DNA. Every now and then the chimps communicate by way of deafening screams, loud pant hoots and thunderous hitting (slapping) of the tree barks and buttresses – it is such a hair-rising moment like no other, and quite memorable!
The habituated chimpanzee group in the main Nyungwe forest is bigger with about 60 members, however given the magnitude of the forest and terrain it offers lesser chances of seeing the chimps, while the group in Cyamudongo forest that has a smaller number of about 30 chimps offers the most successful sightings given the small size that be covered to find the chimps in any part.
The chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda experience is different from the gorilla trekking as the chimps are running around in the tree canopies, and so there may be running after to catch up and sightings are a bit more sporadic and rushed.
The cost of the permit for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda is USD 90 for foreign non-residents and USD 60 for foreign residents of Rwanda and East Africa (Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi).
Guidelines for Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda
16 years is the minimum age.
One should be fit enough Average fitness is okay
Carry hiking shoes or boots, pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a rain jacket
Carry at least two liters of drinking water and some snacks