Rwanda is an East African country that has become increasingly popular among adventure seekers and wildlife enthusiasts. One of the country’s main attractions is chimpanzee trekking. This allows tourists to observe these primates in their natural habitat. Tourists participating in chimpanzee trekking can explore forests and interact with local tour guides that can teach them more about the primates’ behavior and the environment they live in. Furthermore, chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda provides visitors with an unforgettable experience, making it a must-visit destination for any wildlife enthusiast
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is yet another activity that has helped to diversify Kigali’s tourist economy, as gorillas have long been the country’s main draw. The permit for this activity costs 90 USD for foreign visitors and 60 USD for Rwandan tourists and is only available in Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest national park.
This chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda begins at three receiving centers: Uwinka, Kitabi, and Gisakura, where travelers meet park rangers. Tourists are requested to arrive at the reception between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. and then you drive to the beginning site of the walk into the forest.
Chimpanzee tracking differs from gorilla trekking in that chimps are constantly spotted hanging from one tree to another, causing the viewing to be hurried, whereas gorillas are discovered simply enjoying one other’s company, playing, relaxing, or feeding. To obtain a chimp trekking permit, you must be at least 15 years old and physically healthy. Chimps nest every night, therefore a crew of trackers normally goes ahead of the trekking party and communicates with the guides, guiding the visitors to avoid long and needless hikes that might tire them out before they reach their target.
When the chimps are located and met, tourists are given an hour to watch, enjoy, and closely observe their features and characteristics. Chimpanzees are our closest cousins as they share 98.7% DNA with humans. This makes these primates intriguing to be observed especially when they demonstrate what we call “human behavior”. Chimpanzees communicate in vocal calls that are deafening, loud hoots, and hitting tree barks or buttress roots. You cannot afford to miss this exhilarating and hair-raising moment.
There is a habituated chimp colony in Nyungwe forest with a large population of around 60 chimpanzees. However, due to the thickness of the forest and challenging terrain, watching the chimps may be limited. The group in Cyamudongo woodland is smaller, with 30 chimpanzees that are generally more visible. The trekking part of Nyungwe Forest National Park begins at Cyamudongo, a four-and-a-half hour drive from Kigali.
This is Africa’s oldest montane forest and is home to over 13 distinct primate species. This includes over 500 chimps, L’Hoest’s and black-faced vervet monkeys, which may be heard on the trek through the forest. These chimps, however, may be difficult to locate since they are not habituated and are timid. Their human instincts are quite strong and exhibit a lot of interest, excitement, or anxiety when people are present. There are few well-established routes in the thick forests, making the chimp trip more adventurous.
Because over 64 permits are provided every day for gorilla trekking and just 8 for chimp tracking, it is best to schedule these permits in advance. It is best to reserve six to twelve months in advance during peak season (June to September and Christmas-New Year).
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park is combined with other extra activities such as trekking other primate species such as black and white colobus monkeys, hiking, canopy forest walk, birding, and many more, and the majority of these activities are designed to supplement visitors’ chimp trekking safaris in the park.
When going for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda safari, bring your hiking shoes or boots, a long-sleeved shirt, and a rain jacket, as well as at least 2 liters of drinking water and some food.
With the rise of tourism, an increasing number of intrepid travelers are looking for opportunities to explore and experience the world, and chimpanzees in Uganda offer a unique and unforgettable experience. Trekking through the forests to observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitat presents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe them in their natural environment and marvel at their intelligence, strength, and dexterity. From swinging through the trees, to stepping lightly over the forest floor, chimpanzees display remarkable abilities that can be appreciated from a safe distance. It is an unforgettable experience that is sure to leave its mark on all who observe it.
Kibale National Park
Kibale Forest National Park, home to five habituated chimp families within easy walking distance of the Kanyanchu trailhead, is the greatest spot in Uganda for chimpanzee trekking. Kibale’s chimps are both dramatic and serene in front of people, and seeing them here is a rare sight.
Kibale Forest is home to around 1,500 chimps divided into 13 groups. A number of these groups have effectively adapted to human presence. Some are utilized for scientific research, while others, such as the Kanyanchu group, are used for hiking adventures. In Kibale, chimp trekking expeditions take place twice daily, in the mornings and afternoons, and last 3-4 hours, with up to an hour spent with the chimps.
It’s not just the chimpanzees that will draw you here; the park’s primate variety is among the highest in Africa. With 13 species bouncing in the canopy, you can’t go wrong on a chimp trekking safari in Kibale forest. Hikers are frequently met by black-and-white colobus, red-tailed, and blue monkeys. Several nocturnal species like the potto and the eastern needle-clawed bush baby, are frequently seen on night nature excursions.
To observe chimps in Uganda, you’ll need a chimp permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which costs USD 200 per person per day in Kibale. The chimp permits costs $150 per person for foreign residents (with work permits) and 150,000 Uganda Shillings for East African nationals (UGX).
The Kyambura Gorge
Another protected region that provides good chimp trekking in Uganda is Kyambura Gorge, which is located in the far eastern portion of Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda. The 1-kilometer-long and 300-foot-deep “Valley of the Apes” canyon is bordered by huge savannah grasslands, rift valley craters, and the Rwenzori Mountains, which provide a remarkable backdrop to the spectacular panorama.
While the odds of sighting chimps are smaller than in Kibale, the magnificent environment is just as appealing. Trekking down the steep slopes of the ravine, past the vines and gigantic fig trees (less traditional than strenuous), will transport you to an underground forest. You’ll be wading through streams and across rivers in search of the chimp family. Once there, you may spend an hour observing them feed, socialize, play, and go about their daily rudimentary activities. It’s like peering into a time machine and seeing Homo sapiens two million years ago.
Chimpanzee permits for Kyambura cost USD 50 per person, with Foreign Residents/EA Nationals receiving a discount of $40/UGX 30,000. Every day, there are two guided chimp excursions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The Budongo Forest
Budongo Forest, located just outside Murchison Falls National Park‘s main gate, is not as exciting for a multi-day safari in Uganda as Kibale Forest, unless you plan on visiting the northern safari circuit. Despite its proximity to Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Park, you’ll have to go across the nation to see the mountain gorillas. The most popular safari activity that most likely drew your attention to Uganda. Budongo Forest is managed by the National Forestry Authority and a private concession, and chimp permits cost USD 90 per person.
Although the odds of seeing the chimps are small, chimp trekking in Budongo is distinct and more immersive than in Kibale. Furthermore, there are extremely few guests, resulting in a private experience for the price of six cinema tickets. In the heart of an evolutionary jungle, you might actually be on the route with only you, your guide, and a group of happy-hooting primates. It is true chimp tracking in Budongo sometimes entails hands in the ground checking for poo, determining what the chimps have been eating, and listening for specific sounds to identify the chimps. Rangers here have been trained by Kenyan wildlife guides and provide participatory experiences on hikes. They’ll create anticipation for your chimp encounter from the start.
Kalinzu woodland is well-known for its renowned chimp trekking adventure activity in the rainforest, and it is regarded as the second finest chimp trekking site after Kibale Forest National Park. It is home to about 300 chimps, and roughly 70 chimpanzees have been habituated for tourists on Uganda safaris to enjoy. The chimp trekking experience in Kalinzu woodland is divided into two parts: the morning phase, which begins at 8 a.m., and the afternoon phase, which begins at 3 p.m.
The trekking adventure begins with a briefing at the UWA headquarters in the park, where you will be taught the dos and don’ts and safety precautions as well as the expectations for hiking in the Kalinzu forest. Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest is restricted to children under the age of 13. Tourists are divided into groups based on physical fitness level. Each group is assigned a park ranger guide who will lead the group through the forest as you go for the chimp trekking experience.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest will last up to 1-3 hours or more until you reach the chimp colony, depending on which path you follow and since chimps move from one site to another in quest of food. And after you’ve found a specific chimp community/family, you’ll be limited to an hour with them to take photographs, film, and observe their feeding habits and living patterns in the jungle. The habituated chimps in Kalinzu Forest are quite sociable and have become accustomed to human presence. Consequently, hiking in the forest will provide you with wonderful adventure experiences in the forest jungle.
Chimpanzee trekking in Congo, like gorilla trekking, takes place in the stunning Virunga national park. The park is home to lush woodland, grassland, and mountains. The chimps were just recently habituated since the majority of the park’s visitors were centered on gorilla trekking. The chimp tourism habituation is still developing, however there is now a group accessible for chimp trekking at the Mahura woodland in Virunga National Park. The Chimps may only be trekked by parties of six individuals. Unlike gorilla trekking, chimp trekking begins considerably earlier in the morning to give you a greater opportunity of seeing them before they scatter in search of food, particularly fruits, which they like.
Chimpanzees travel faster and cover more terrain than gorillas which tend to eat in the same place for extended periods of time. To get the most out of this experience, you should start early before heading out of the forest to your lodge or another activity. If you have a contagious ailment, you are not permitted to go on a chimp trek, and you should cancel or postpone your trip. To be allowed on a chimp trek, you must be 15 years old or older, just like for gorilla trekking. Throughout the hike, you are advised to follow the ranger guide and not deviate from the path. It is also forbidden to eat, drink, or smoke in the company of the chimps. This activity will take place at certain times and locations. If you need to use the rest room, please notify your ranger guide, who will instruct you on where to go – you will be needed to dig a hole, which you will cover when you conclude your business.
Chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania takes place in two protected areas: Mahale National Park and Gomse stream national park. Mahale national park is located in the remote western portion of Tanzania. Mahale National park is noted for housing nine primate species, including significant populations of chimps, making the park a chimp paradise. Other primates include; the olive baboons, red colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, 73 mammal species, and many bird species.
Chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania is also possible at Gombe Stream National Park, which is located in western Tanzania on the eastern bank of Lake Tanganyika, near the Tanzania-Congo border. The Gombe Stream National Park is also the sole location where primatologist Jane Goodall began her studies on chimp behavior in 1960. The national park is home to endangered chimps. Other primates include; blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys. Other mammal species include; bush pigs, leopards, hippos, and over 200 bird species such as peters twinspot, African fish eagle, African broadbill, crowned eagle, and double toothed barbet.
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