Chimpanzee Tracking In Rwanda-Nyungwe Forest National park

The top drawcard for visitors to Rwanda is of course the mountain gorillas in the misty Volcanoes National park. It is arguably the most exciting wildlife encounter, but the old forest of Nyungwe offers another moving encounter with man’s closest cousin- Chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda.

The immense forest with its chimpanzees, other 12 primate species, and rare birds is the largest tract of all the remaining Africa’s old forests in the Eastern part of the continent extending to 1015km2. The forest park has a remarkably rich diversity and a wide range of activities take place in and around the park. These include canopy walks, birding, among others but in this write up we focus on the most selling activity which is Chimpanzee tracking.

Chimpanzee tracking sounds strictly primate business while here and true the chimpanzees are the most charismatic resident of the forest but also you can encounter other primates like the monkeys, identify birds by their melodies and all these supplements the activity.

The experience

Nyungwe forest national park, has three reception centers at Gisakura, Uwinka, and Kitabi. Visitors arrive at these points as early as 4.30 am and by 5 am they drive to the starting point for the trek into the forest. At this point, they are briefed about the tracking rules and the dos and don’ts while in the forest. Chimpanzees make news nest daily depending on where dusk finds them, it is for this reason that an advanced team of trackers goes before the visitors enter the forest to locate the chimpanzees. After finding the chimpanzees, the trackers communicate to the ranger and guides about the location and you find them.

An hour is allowed to watch, photograph, and ask questions about the behavior and anything about these animals. It sounds similar to gorilla tracking but they are very different. Despite allowing an hour to watch these primates. Chimpanzees always hang out and feed on the trees, unlike the gorillas that spend the most time on the ground. This makes it difficult to watch them as they jump from tree to tree so you might even spend more than an hour because keeping up with them is a challenge that factors in on the amount of time you will spend.

There is only one habituated group with about 60 individuals and only 8 people are allowed to track in a day. This makes permits for the activity hard to get, mostly during the peak season and this will require visitors who are interested in the activity to book months in advance.

Tips on Chimpanzee tracking.

  • A visitor should be 15 years and above to be allowed to track chimpanzees
  • Long-sleeved shirts and trousers are recommended.
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Carry insect repellants
  • Carry enough drinking water for the activity (2ltrs)
  • Sometimes you need to carry packed lunch

Contact us for Chimpanzee tours in Nyungwe

Rwanda Gorilla trekking