- Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National park
For many of the tourists, gorilla trekking is the main driving force of visiting Rwanda, However, there is a lot to do in this country than just the famous mountain gorilla trekking. The high cost of the gorilla permits in Rwanda has discouraged many from visiting Rwanda since the cost of the permit is even more expensive than the Air ticket. So it’s important to enjoy an equal experience for a fraction of the cost and come to track the chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest National park instead.
There are so many ways where chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest is different from gorilla trekking; unlike the mountain gorillas, the chimpanzee in Nyungwe forest are always moving constantly around and at a high speed, jumping from tree to another making noise. However, the mountain gorillas are found sitting quietly in the forest clearings. The other main difference between the two is the tracking experiences and with this, the gorillas, one allowed one hour of watching and taking photos of them, but with the chimpanzees, there is no limit, though keeping up with them is the main challenge and the biggest determining factor of the amount of time that is spent with them. Of all the primate species found in Nyungwe Forest National Park, it’s the chimpanzees that are famous and the core wildlife attractions in this great National Park.
Chimpanzee trekking in the forest starts from the reception center at UwinkaKitabi and Gasakura where the tourists meet the park rangers and the trackers are expected to be at the reception as early as 4:30 and by 5:00 am; you are driven to the starting point of the trek into the forest. Since the chimpanzees nest each and every night, there are the trackers who go ahead of the group and find them and communicate with the ranger guides. The tourists get to see them so closely going about their own lives and see the human like features as well as behaviors that make them our closest relatives with whom we share 98% of the DNA. The chimps communicate by way of deafening screams, the loud hoots and booming hitting of the tree barks as well as the buttress. This is more of a memorable experience.
The habituated chimp’s groups in the forest are bigger with 60 members and due to the magnitude of the forest and terrain, it offers few chances of seeing the chimps, while the group in Cyamudongo forest has got smaller number of about 30 chimps which offers the most successful sightings that are given in the small size that is covered to find the chimps in any part. The chimp’s experience is as different from that of the gorillas at the chimps are running around in the trees and there may be running to get up and their sightings are mote irregular and rushed. The region of the forest where the chimps are tracked starts in Cyamudongo, which is a 4 and half hour drive from Kigali. This forest is Africa’s oldest montane forest and its home to over 13 species of primates including chimpanzees totaling to 500.
The common challenge with the chimps is finding them, as they are not habituated like the mountain gorillas, this is because they are shy and their human instincts are so strong and they show a lot of curiosity and the eagerness when the tourists are around. The chimpanzees and humans share 98% of the DNA, which makes them the most exciting to be seen, especially when they display what we know as human behaviors. Chimp trekking is so fast paced and great which makes it more of the adventure than gorilla trekking. The adventure has got few well established paths, denser forests to go through and discovering them makes it more exciting.
Chimpanzee trekking permits cost $ 90 per person which is less costly than the gorilla permits. There are 64 permits per day issued by Rwanda for chimpanzee trekking and only 8 people per day for chimpanzee tracking. It’s therefore advisable to book the permits in advance. When considering Rwanda for primate experience is financially more conceivable when considering the chimps instead of mountain gorillas and it’s an option that will not disappoint.
The forest covers an area of 1000 square kilometers and its larger than it extends into Burundi. The park is the largest tropical afro montane rain forest east and central Africa and it receives 2000mm of rains each year and its Rwanda’s largest water catchment area home to Rwanda’s water. This same forest feeds both the river Congo and the river Nile with water. When you visit the forest, you will see the canopy walk away with chances of viewing the birds, primates’ flower like the orchids that are found as well as butterflies.
The national park is not a dense park but large forest and the things to do here are many. You can find 300 different bird species, butterflies, orchids, 13 primates, 75 mammal species and there have been the sightings of the golden monkeys. The park is with its countless of the natural wonders and it’s not missed if you are coming to Rwanda and it will be one of the destinations added to mountain gorilla tracking in Rwanda.
The main activities carried out in the park include; hiking in the forest with over 13 hiking trails, chimpanzee trekking starts in the morning and it’s advisable to carry a day pack and a lot of water, there is monkey tracking as well as grey cheeked Mangabeys, and the Ruwenzori Colobus monkeys. You will find the canopy walk and hike which shouldn’t be missed. The bird species found here total to 300 and the endemic species are 27.
Above at the main reasons why you should visit Nyungwe Forest National Park on your safari to Rwanda
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