Compare Nyungwe and Kibale For Chimp Trekking
Kibale Forest in Uganda and Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda are the top chimp trekking destinations in Africa, promising the best primate experiences than anywhere in the world. Furthermore, the two destinations are pretty close to the gorilla trekking destinations in both countries, which makes watching both chimpanzees and mountain gorillas on the same trip very possible.
Both parks are very easy to access with about a 5-6-hour drive from the International Airport in Kigali or Entebbe and local airstrips within short driving times. It’s very easy to put together a trip in either country and spend a day with our closest cousins in their natural habitat.
Chimpanzee trekking is an unforgettable adventure that connects you to our natural history and leaves you forever bonded with human’s closest relatives. Looking into the eyes of a wild chimpanzee in the middle of an age-old jungle and seeing the similarity they share with us is a priceless experience.
Guided chimp trekking adventures occur daily in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest and Uganda’s Kibale Forest that bring you a few feet close to these impressive wild primates. Make it a must-do adventure if such experiences are something that strike a note in your travels.
However, chimpanzee trekking involves some physical expenses. Keeping up with wild chimps is an active experience that may drain your breath. The wild bands rarely stay in one place unless they’ve just ended a foraging expedition. The experience will keep you on your toes, so do some simple exercises before you head down here.
Besides that, there are a few more things you should know to compare your choice between trekking in Nyungwe with Kibale. Let’s take a look at some of them;
Chimp Trekking in Nyungwe Forest; Pros & Cons
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest is one of the two main adventure attractions in Rwanda and combines well with gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, 250 km north of Nyungwe. This primate park sits on Rwanda’s southern border on a rugged Rift Valley landscape that is a significant freshwater source to Rwanda and two massive rivers, the Congo and Nile Rivers.
If Nyungwe’s puckish chimpanzees do not impress you, 13 other primates, 75 mammal species, over 300 bird species, and forest hiking trails will definitely catch your attention.
In addition to chimpanzee trekking, nature hikes are a big attraction in Nyungwe Forest, especially the forest canopy walk. After the experience with the hyperactive chimpanzees, visitors usually walk 70-meter high above the canopy for an exhilarating experience of the rainforest jungle—a feature you won’t find in Uganda.
The edge Nyungwe has over Kibale is the impressive list of activities you can add to your chimpanzee trekking experience, especially the scenic hiking trails. You could spend a week in Nyungwe and be amazed the whole time. Also, there is a habituated troop of colobus monkeys that may steal your day’s attention at the Gisakura visitor center.
The chimpanzee trekking permit in Nyungwe is way cheaper (at $90) than in Kibale but as we all know, a couple of cons tag along with cheap price tags.
However, Nyungwe Forest’s trails require more stamina to navigate compared to Kibale because of the rugged steep terrain, whose tracking trails often become muddy, especially after rain.
The other drawback to Nyungwe is the lack of a variety of tourist accommodation choices near the visitor center. You could end up lodging far away from the chimpanzee trekking starting point and spend on transport to the park.
Additionally, because of Rwanda’s aim of attracting high-cost low-volume tourism, Nyungwe makes few concessions to independent or budget travelers, which is the far opposite of Kibale.
Lastly, Nyungwe promises a lower sighting percentage compared to Kibale; there’s no assurance that you’ll see the chimpanzees even after hours of trekking the challenging slopes. Treks start at 5:00 am, three hours earlier than in Kibale and the chimpanzee troops could be anywhere within the 340 square mile radius, which means you could spend an undetermined duration trying to find the chimps.
Chimp Trekking in Kibale Forest; Pros & Cons
Kibale Forest promises a much better chimp trekking experience than Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda, most importantly because of the navigable flat terrain and abundance of habituated chimps. Kibale Forest has the highest concentration of chimpanzees and other primates.
Chimps may be the most entertaining hosts in Kibale, but the park has an impressive list of Central African primate species including the red colobus mangabey, L’Hoest’s monkey, olive baboon, black-and-white colobus, vervet, and blue monkey.
Chimp sightings are much guaranteed with every visit, making Kibale Forest a more outstanding choice for chimp trekking compared to Nyungwe Forest. In addition, Kibale offers a full-day habituation experience where visitors get to spend the whole day with the chimps. Nyungwe offers only the regular half-day experience, of which sightings are not guaranteed.
In addition, there is a wide selection of lodging within trekking distance that offer both budget and high-cost choice to all kinds of travelers. Chimp trekking in Kibale begins at 7:30 am, a much more reasonable time to make it to the visitor center for the briefing before the experience.
The chimp trekking permit in Kibale cost $200, doubling that of Nyungwe, but the expensive price tag comes with more pros and some cons.
Combining chimp trekking in Kibale with gorilla trekking in Bwindi is a common occurrence on most Uganda safari itineraries and Kibale is quite a distance from Bwindi and the roads are not as smooth as Rwanda’s. Drive time between the two destinations could mean adding a buffer like a night in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Best time to go for chimps trekking in Nyungwe & Kibale
The best time to plan a chimp trekking safari in either Nyungwe or Kibale is during the region’s annual dry seasons of June to September. The dry trekking trails promise a much better experience than when it’s raining and you have a much more relaxed time with the primates.
However, the rainy seasons in March to May and November are equally good. During the rainy months, it’s easier to find the chimps because trees are bearing fruits that keep the chimps in one place. Although, the rain can be a disruption to most travelers. So, few travelers will choose to brave the rains and will come in the dry seasons.
Although chimp trekking permits in Nyungwe and Kibale may be readily available any time of the year, we recommend booking your permits earlier if you intend to travel during the dry season. Accommodation becomes scarce during the dry seasons, which is the peak travel season in the region. Booking early ensures that you secure your lodging for the chimp trekking experience.
Book your chimp trekking safari
Book your chimp trekking safari in either Rwanda or Uganda with Encounter Africa Safari. With the experience we have in operating primate safaris, we’ll book your permits, accommodation, and transport with a professional touch.
It is also easier to plan a chimp and gorilla trekking combo with us, taking care of all the ground handling so that you can concentrate on the experience within Africa’s riches forest jungles. Send us an email at email@example.com for a free quote in the shortest possible time.