Guide to Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda

Guide to Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda

Guide to Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda


Have you tried to wake up one day and feel like travelling to see and trek some chimpanzees but un fortunately u have not got a place where to trek them, well there is no more worry again here I bring you the common country and area where the chimpanzees are trekked and that is Rwanda but specifically done in nyungwe forest.

Chimpanzee trekking simply is an activity where travelers with the help of the tour guide and a trained one guide you through the jungle follow the trail left by a habituated chimpanzee family and when they find them, you are allowed to spend some time with them experiencing their culture and behavior for almost one hour. Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is mostly done in the nyungwe forest which is the largest, long stretch montane rainforest in Africa at the moment. This forest has attracted many tourists ,researchers  and scientists who have come to see the primates found in this forest and get to know more about them .such as the chimpanzees , gorillas and monkeys .This forest is also part of the wider nyungwe national park which includes cyamudongo forest .The nyungwe forest does not only have primates but it also has some  other attractions  like the bird species  which are over 310 species in the sanctuary , these birds include , purple breasted sun birds , Rockefellers sunbird , red collared mountain babblers and the Ruwenzori turacos .

The location of nyungwe forest where chimpanzees are trekked

The forest is located southwest of Rwanda towards the border with Burundi, south of lake kivu, and west of the democratic republic of Congo.

Distance from Kigali to nyungwe forest national park

The distance is approximately 218km to 219 km depending on the route one has used when you reach murama. The transport means can either be by road or by air and it is a 4 to 5-hour drive from Kigali to the park. If one wants to travel by air, you can book one of the charter flights from Kigali to kamembe international airport, kamembe airport is 33 km from nyungwe forest lodge which offers a helicopter.

More so if one would like to use road transport, you can use a car, it is just 219 km distance from Kigali to nyungwe forest and then from there, a tourist vehicle can pick you and drive you to the headquarters to get your accommodation place.

Chimpanzee trekking in nyungwe forest.

This is really interesting , the trekking starts very early in the morning at 5 ; am  after taking breakfast  ,it begins with a briefing at the headquarters at uwinka   with the help of the trained tour guide .Then from there the journey begins to the jungle following the foot prints of the chimpanzees , this will help you to get the chimpanzees in a very short time .Once these primates are got , you are allowed to stay with them for over an hour getting used to their culture .The chimpanzees  are man’s closest friends , they almost share everything in common , and they have many of our  traits , they are intelligent apes and humans at the same time .

Rwanda has three places where these chimpanzees are found for example nyungwe national park [nyungwe and cyamudongo forests] and the gishwati mukura national park. The chimpanzees here have been kept for captivity for over 60 years. The park almost has 400 individual chimpanzees and 13 primate species in total. Two chimpanzee communities have been partially habituated in nyungwe national park where by many of them have gone to nyungwe forest [60 individuals] while the rest have gone to cyamudongo forest and those are 3o individuals. However, you have to put in mind that its not a guarantee that you have to see the chimpanzees in the nyungwe forest, but once you don’t see them, you are advised to take it easy. Nyungwe forest has other animal species like the faced vervet monkeys, Rwenzori colobus, black and white colobus monkeys to mention but a few.

Characters of chimpanzees

The chimpanzees are too noisy

The chimpanzees are very mobile

They are too stubborn for life in that they like playing all the time

Because they are lighter, they like swinging on top of the trees

NOTE; Since these primates are too stubborn, you need to take care while trekking them, because they are too quick in their movements both on the ground and on the tress and that’s why their trekking takes a long time and all in all it needs fitness.

The cost of the chimpanzee permit

The chimpanzee permit is at 100 dollars per person. All the bookings are made directly through the Rwanda development board or your tour operator. The chimpanzee permit includes a ranger and a guide assigned to move with you in the group during the trekking. You will be asked to show the permit at the park entrance just before proceeding to the beginning point

Other activities to be spotted in nyungwe forest other than chimpanzee trekking

Canopy walk

The only way to go through the nyungwe forest for chimpanzee trekking is by using a canopy walk.

It is built 60 meters high and it is a strong steel bridge that helps the tourists to view the tops of the forest as they continue with their journey to the jungle for trekking. This walk starts at uwinka and takes only 2 hours. This walk costs only 60 dollars per person.

Spotting other primates

This activity is best done in nyungwe forest. The forest has over 13 primate species which are mostly talked about after the chimpanzees, and these are Rwenzori and the Angola colobus, Angola colobus monkey and the golden monkeys. It is noted that the Angola colobus are now semi habituated in the park.

Cultural and community visit

Nyungwe forest has many places to visit while there so as to experience some good entertainment and relaxation. For example, in Rwanda there are nice places that you should miss such as the kitabi cultural village, you can also attend the performances of cyamudongo cultural   troupe and friends in nyungwe. All these people show up their culture and they entertain the visitors who would have come to the forest.

Climbing mountain bigugu

This mountain is found within nyungwe forest. It is just 2950 meters above the sea level. The mountain offers stunning views of the vast forest and distant mountains like the Virunga, the beautiful land scape and the surrounding areas.

Visiting the gisakura tea plantation

This activity is suitable for the tourists who are tea enthusiasts and those who are nature lovers and always appreciate the beauty. It is usually done in the evening time when all the other activities have been done. Here one can visit the tea plantations, see how they harvest, process and park for importation.

Visiting one of the water falls

The most common water fall in nyungwe is the isumo waterfall. It is located close to the nyungwe house which is a luxury house. The isumo water fall squeezes through a narrow section of the rock before plunging down and continuing deep into the forest as a stream. For one to hike this water fall, you need to go through a trail because the water fall involves passing through slippery and steep areas. As you finish your walk heading back to the lodge, you will have to see other animal and bird species along your way and these are, frogs, birds, insects, monkeys and so on.

Nature walks and hikes

These include walking around the forest in the evening after all the other activities have been done. In nyungwe forest, there are many different trails which people use while hiking the mountains in the park.   And all these trails to be completed, one has to use over a week and it is over 130 km to complete the trails. The trails include the bigugu, ngabwe trail, canopy trail, igishigishigi trail, irebero trail, isumo water fall trail, umogote trail, muzimo trail, rukuzi trail, imbaraga trail and umuyove trail. The most popular trail is the bugugu and the igishigishigi trail. Therefore, you need to be fit enough to use all these trails because it is not easy as you think.

Bird watching

Bird watching refers to the observation of birds in their natural habitats. Nyungwe forest national park has got over 300 species of birds of which about 26 are endemic to the Albertine rift. The example of the birds includes, already, the apalis argentea, archers robin chat, dusky crimson wing grauers warbler, francolin, kungwe apalis, large blue turaco, sun birds and handsome francolin. You should note that bird watching begins from the windows of your hotel up to the canopy.

Accommodations during the chimpanzee trekking

Nyungwe top view hotel

This is a mid-range hotel found in nyungwe forest national park .It was opened in 2011 .The hotel is ensuite with all rooms self-contained with birth rooms and the showers inside .The hotel has a balcony which gives very good views to the tourists who spend their time there .They have a bar which is well equipped with all types of drinks that any tourist can yearn for .The buildings of the hotel are well varnished and made of red bricks and they also have furniture which is locally made that most clients may like .Putting all the others aside , the hotel has staff which is well organized and ready to serve the clients to their expectations .The hotel has a bar which is filled with all types of drinks that the clients may like , they provide free Wi-Fi , an electric kettle , a reception and a restaurant which provides all the types of meals both full board and half board depending on the choice of the client and the money he or she paid . The most amazing thing is that the hotel has a campsite which enables the visitors to set their tents at night and have their night there , they are provided with fire which protects them from wild animals and gives them warmth.

Gisakura guest house

This is a budget lodge .it is built just two kilometers away from the park and close to the gisakura tea estate just off the road leading to rusizi .This lodge has bedrooms which are ensuite and self-contained with hot water , warm and showers inside that most clients may like .The rooms have a bar inside which is well equipped with all the types of drinks , they have a restaurant that serves the clients with all the meals both full board and half board depending on the price of the client and what he or she has paid for .The lodge has a campsite which allows the tourists to put their tents and spend a night there .They are given fire which is always lit at night to provide protection , and warmth during the night .All these services make the clients to come back next time .

Nyungwe house

This is a luxury lodge which was opened up in 2010 as the first 5-star hotel. This lodge is has quickly grown up that it has amazing facilities and services that attract most clients. The lodge has staff who serve the visitors to their expectation and have care for them. The lodge is built on the tea plantation just outside nyungwe forest. They have rooms which are ensuite having bathrooms and toilets inside. The rooms have free Wi-Fi, television, electric kettle, a bar with all the types of drinks, reception and not forgetting the balcony which gives a great view to the clients while relaxing. The clients get to see the beautiful landscape, the sunrise in the morning and to mention but a few. The hotel has a campsite; this has enabled the visitors to set their tents during the night ready to sleep. They are given fire at night by the rangers to protect them from the wild animals and to also provide warmth.


Visiting nyungwe forest in Rwanda is something that one will never forget in life because of its beautiful activities and more so the chimpanzee trekking found there.

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