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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Rwanda

Tracking chimpanzees through the forest in Nyungwe

The colours, the smells, the sounds, the fresh air and the views all make an unforgettable lifetime experience…

By Protais Niyigaba
Nyungwe Park Manager and CEO

Doing a chimpanzee trek not only allows you to experience the daily activities and social structure of a chimpanzee family, but also gives you an opportunity to enjoy the forest environment where they live. The colours, the smells, the sounds, the fresh air and the views all make an unforgettable lifetime experience.

The treks start at 5am, which gives you a chance of spotting chimpanzees as they ‘de-nest’. Mornings are also ideal because it’s when the chimpanzees are at their most active – feeding, pant-hooting, grooming and so on. The whole trip takes between four and seven hours, including the drive to and from the nearest hotels.  

We never give a 100% guarantee that you’ll see chimpanzees, but the guide and the trackers monitor them every day to try to make sure that visitors have a successful and memorable experience. Ensuring the safety of the visitors without compromising the safety of chimpanzees and their habitat is a priority for the trekking team. One of the studied communities in Nyungwe has the largest home range ever known for montane chimpanzee populations. It covers a wide band of altitudinal range, which offers a variety of vegetation and food resources and makes their tracking and movement predictable given the changing food availability at different levels of altitude and at different seasons in a year.   

Depending on where the chimpanzees move to, visitors have the bonus of amazing views of mountainous forest landscapes, often partly covered by the forest fog, and green tea plantations in the buffer zone near Gisakura and along the drive to Cyamudongo. Some parts of the forest will give you views of Lake Kivu on the horizon. In addition, there’s the possibility of seeing other primates, including L’Hoest’s monkey, Dent’s mona monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey, and colourful birds such as great blue turaco, the endemic Rwenzori turaco, Ross’s turaco and black-and-white-casqued hornbill along the way.  

Treks are led by community guides who are young men and women from the immediate vicinity. The community freelance guides cooperative was initiated by Nyungwe Management Company based on the lessons and success story of African Parks in Akagera National Park. The trackers are also from the surrounding villages, as are the porters; in fact, more than 90% of the jobs in the park are held by people from the surrounding communities.

On top of that, 15% of the gross revenues are immediately paid by the park to fund priority development projects for the communities in close proximity to the park and to compensate them for any damage caused by the wildlife – mainly crop and livestock raiding. Finally, our procurement system is set up to give preference to local suppliers for everything from food for the rangers to construction materials.

Categories

  • Scenery
  • Trips to take
  • Wildlife

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Alfred & Protais Niyigaba

Born in one of the districts bordering Nyungwe, Protais Niyigaba grew up with a passion for conservation. Since completing his MSc in Biodiversity Conservation from the University of Rwanda, he has undertaken various roles in his field. He joined Nyungwe Management Company in June 2021 as Park Manager, having previously been a guide and nature interpreter there. A keen birder and botanist, he enjoys working and living in his favourite environment and being paid for doing what he loves. 

Alfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Vicki, who's travelled extensively in Rwanda. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the guides who track mountain gorillas day and night to ensure you get the best sightings, the Kigalians who'll give you a real insight into their vibrant city and the coffee-growers who'll tutor you in the art of tasting.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656