How is safety and security guaranteed during chimp trekking in Nyungwe National Park?
How is safety and security guaranteed during chimp trekking in Nyungwe National Park? Chimpanzee trekking is one of Rwanda’s top tourist activities in Nyungwe National Park. Rwanda has ensured that chimpanzee trekking as an activity is developed and the chimps protected to attract more tourists into the country.
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Trekking chimpanzees in Nyungwe is a safe activity, and the government of Rwanda has put safety measures in place to ensure that both the chimpanzees and the trekkers are safe. In southwestern Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is the chimpanzee trekking destination and home to 13 other primate species. This is the largest Montane forest in Rwanda, with 300 recorded bird species, including both endemic and international species, tree plant species, reptiles, and amphibians.
chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe
Chimp trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park starts early morning with a small briefing at around 5:00 am, and all trekkers are expected to attend the meeting. The briefing can take place at any of the three areas: Kitabi, Gisakura, or Uwinka, and a team of guides lead the discussion, telling and reminding you about the rules and regulations you are to follow if you wish to track chimps. As you attend the meeting, trackers are sent out to search for the last place the chimpanzees were last seen, and these are always in close contact with the guides leading the tourists.
The activity has no time limit and can take between 2 to 6 hours depending on where the habituated families are, and after locating them, you get to spend an hour with the chimpanzees playing, feeding their young ones, mating, and going on about their daily behavioral patterns.
Chimpanzees are curious creatures that will try to come close but avoid touching them at all costs. The exercise is stressful, but after getting to the chimpanzees, you will notice that the time was worth it. After the one hour with the chimpanzees, you trek back to the park headquarters, where you can see other primates. If you are not fit enough, we advise that you opt for the chimpanzee family in Cyamudongo since it is believed to be easier to trek.
The chimpanzee trekking permit in Rwanda
A chimpanzee permit is a ticket issued by the Rwanda Development Board which allows tourists to trek habituated chimpanzee trekking. The permit remains the property of the government of Rwanda, and upon payment, a copy is sent to you. You need to come with this on your safari. You will meet the park wardens at around 5:00 am, and the warden on duty will verify and collect your permit.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe is carried out in Cyamudongo forest and Uwinkat, but note that spotting the primates is not guaranteed since they are always on the move. To participate in chimpanzee trekking, one must purchase a permit, which the Rwanda Development Board issues, which only one can track.
You need to be at least 15 years old to be able to purchase the chimpanzee permit, and the details you send of your passport during the booking process will be used to determine your age. The cost of the chimpanzee trekking is as follows:
East African Residents $10
Foreign residents pay $60, and you need to have proof like a work permit
Foreign non-residents $90
Rwanda Nationals RWF 5000
The Chimpanzee trekking permit in Rwanda has exclusions and inclusions. It allows a minimum of 8 to 10 tourists to track a chimpanzee family. The permit cost includes access to the habituated chimpanzees, the park entry fees, security armed rangers, and an hour with the chimps. It does not include transport, accommodation, and personal purchases.
The chimpanzee permit was introduced to reduce the number of people who participate in the trek daily; this is one of the ways security and safety are guaranteed during the trek.
How many chimpanzee trekking permits are printed per day?
Nyungwe National Park has two habituated chimpanzee families, and there are only 20 permits printed per day. This shows that there are few permits printed per day, and tourists planning a chimpanzee trek should purchase the permits in advance/three months before being able to enjoy the trek.
A refund on the chimpanzee permit in Rwanda: Spotting chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park is not a guarantee, and sometimes the habituated groups move far away, making it hard to track them down. In cases where you fail to see the chimpanzees, you will get a 75% refund on the chimpanzee permit fee.
Regulations for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Chimpanzees are wild creatures even after habituation and do not need to be overwhelmed during the tracking exercise. The trekkers must follow all the rules and regulations to protect the chimpanzees and the trekkers. The chimp trekking rules in Nyungwe include the following:
- Flash photography is prohibited in all forms, and you are to shut off your flash before spending some time with the chimpanzees.
- You must always adhere to the instructions given by your lead guide. They are experienced and know all the safe routes for trekking the chimpanzees.
- An hour is the maximum time you spend with the chimpanzees after locating them.
- Avoid cornering the chimpanzees just because you want to take photos because they love their freedom and keep moving from one place to the next.
- The minimum age limit for chimpanzee trekking is 15 years, and anyone under 15 will not be allowed to trek the chimpanzees.
- You are not allowed to eat and drink when you are with a chimpanzee group.
- You need to keep a distance of at least 8 meters between you and the chimpanzees.
- Keep Nyungwe National Park clean by taking all your rubbish out of the national park, and if you wish to use the toilet, dig a 30cm hole and cover it up afterward.
- Avoid touching the chimpanzees if possible.
- Do not trek the chimpanzees if you feel sick.
- When you feel like coughing or sneezing, turn away from the chimpanzees and cover both your mouth and nose.
What to wear during the chimpanzee trek in Nyungwe
The chimpanzee tracking exercise in Cyamudongo and Nyungwe forest can be uncomfortable, especially if you do not put on appropriate clothing. Below is a list of appropriate clothing to carry for your chimpanzee trekking safari. Ensure that the clothes packed are neutral colors: green, brown, and Khaki. Do not carry camouflage clothes since they are associated with the army, the blue color attracts tsetse flies, and black absorbs heat fast.
Long-sleeved shirts: Because of the unpredictable climate in the country and the trek through the jungle, the best way to protect yourself is by putting on an extra layer of clothing. They do not necessarily need to be heavy just light weight since you will have some undershirts inside. The long-sleeved shirts also protect your skin from the bug bites. Besides carrying long-sleeved shirts, you can also pack under shirts after tracking the chimpanzees. Rwanda is keen on decency, so ensure you carry some decent clothing.
Trousers/long pants: A decent pair of pants is recommended for the chimpanzee trekking safari in Nyungwe National Park. The pants should be lightweight, and avoid trekking in jeans, especially during the rainy season, because it becomes a bit hard and slow to trek in them when they become wet and heavy.
Hike boots: Strong, decent hike boots are the best for chimpanzee trekking. The boots should be ankle length, comfortable and fitting to avoid blisters, and waterproof.
Garden gloves: You will be walking through the forest with twigs and trees and to be able to trek the chimpanzees without hurting your hands when you pack the garden gloves.
Socks: These should be long and heavy to keep you warm during the abrupt weather changes, and trousers are tucked into the socks during the trek to prevent insects from crawling up your leg.
A warm sweater and waterproof poncho: Because the weather keeps changing without warning, you will need a waterproof rain jacket and a warm sweater.
What to Bring to the Nyungwe Forest National Park
When we talk about a safari, the first thing that comes to tourists’ minds is what to pack for the safari, and this is where many tourists make mistakes of either overpacking or underpacking with unnecessary items. We have listed below some of the things that you need to come with for your chimpanzee trekking experience, and these include:
- A good camera, extra storage because of the many photos you will take while on your safari, a tripod, extra batteries because even though you can charge your camera, it is safe to have more while in the jungle, different lenses, a waterproof camera bag and lens cleaners.
- A waterproof day backpack for strong all the necessary things you might need on your trek day.
- Refillable water bottle. Rwanda has clean bottled water, but you can carry a bottle of more than one liter since you are unsure how much time you will spend on the trek.
- A first aid kit for emergencies on the trek. Bring your prescribed medicine, and ensure the kit is fully equipped. Local guides always have their first aid kit, but an extra one does not hurt.
- Sunscreen for protection from the sun.
- Insect repellent
- Adjustable gaiters
- Snacks and energy bars.
Booking a chimpanzee trek safari in Nyungwe National Park
Booking for a chimpanzee trek in Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda takes easy steps that can be followed whether you are using a tour operator or traveling solo. The chimpanzee permit is the first purchase that needs to be made by tourists intending to trek, and this can be bought from the Rwanda Development Board or a trusted tour operator.
Get in touch with the tour operator about the dates you prefer your trek to be done, and once they confirm that they are available, you will be asked for your information, including your name, date of birth, and a copy of your passport. When the dates are confirmed, you are asked to send a payment for the permit to the company account and remember that purchasing is not done if you don’t make full payment.
After receipt of payment, a copy of the Chimp Trek permit will be sent. Before purchasing the permits, ensure that the company you are using is authentic and registered by carrying out enough research.
Other chimpanzee tracking destinations in Rwanda
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is also carried out in the Gishwati Mukura National Park, which was set up to preserve unique tree species in the country. Gishwati Mukura was formed after the merging of two small Gishwati and Mukura forests found between Volcanoes National Park and Volcanoes National Park.
The newly created national park is home to chimpanzees, and although the chimps are few at the moment, it is the alternate tracking destination in Rwanda. The park is home to other primates, including blue monkeys, baboons, Vervet monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, and colobus monkeys.
When to visit Rwanda for a chimp trek safari
The best time for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is from December through February and June to September. This is also known as the peak season because many tourists visit the country during this time for chimpanzee trekking and other safaris. The wet season: October to November and March to May is an okay season to go for chimpanzee trekking, although it is a challenging time due to the slippery routes, mud, and the rains. If you do not mind the rain, this is the best bird-watching season in national parks and across the country.
To plan your Rwanda Chimp trek safari, please contact our safari consultants who are ready to assist you.