How many days do you need for gorilla and chimp trekking in Rwanda?
How many days do you need for gorilla and chimp trekking in Rwanda? Gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda are the top tourist activities carried out all year round. Mountain gorillas located in Volcanoes National Park and chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park attract almost 90% of the tourists visiting Rwanda on a safari, and one of the questions is the number of days one spends when they combine a gorilla trekking safari with a chimpanzee trekking safari in Rwanda. The combined gorilla and chimp trek safari can take at least 4 days, but the recommended days are five, where you can participate in other safari activities.
5 days Gorilla and Chimp trekking safari in Rwanda
The gorilla and chimpanzee trekking safari in Rwanda will take 5 days of you tracking primates in the Rwandan rainforests. We start the itinerary by picking you up from the airport and driving to Nyungwe Forest National Park for the canopy walk and chimpanzee trekking. Then we will go to Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking, which marks the end of our trip.
Inclusions of the safari cost
- Bottled drinking water
- Airport transfer
- Chimpanzee and gorilla trekking permit
- 4×4 transportation
- An English-speaking driver guide
- Park entrance fees.
Exclusions of the safari cost
- Premium drinks
- Personal purchases
- Air tickets
Day 1: Kigali-Nyungwe Forest National Park
Our driver guide will pick you up from Kigali International Airport and, after a brief welcome and information about the safari destinations, set off for a stopover at the Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali and transfer to Nyungwe National Park. You get to Nyungwe in the afternoon, and after checking in and having lunch, visit the Gisakura Tea Estate. While at the tea estate, you will be shown the process of growing, harvesting, processing and packaging the coffee, and you will also get a taste of the freshly brewed coffee. After the trip around Gisakura, we drive back to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Chimpanzee trekking, Canopy walk
The day starts very early in the morning with breakfast, and you head to the park headquarters, where you are briefed and assigned trekking chimpanzee groups with eight members. The trek starts at 8:00 am with a lead guide, so ensure that you keep time so you don’t miss out on the trek. About 80 habituated chimpanzee families in Nyungwe, can be trekked between 1 and 6 hours depending on the family location. You also get to spend an hour with the chimpanzees after finding them. Throughout the trek, you can spot other primates, including colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and baboons. You will be taken to a safe place to have your packed lunch or return to the lodge for lunch and rest before the next activity.
After lunch, get to the Uwinka center, where our canopy walk starts from. The Canopy walk in Nyungwe is exciting and the longest in East Africa, going 160 meters long and about 70 meters above sea level. For those afraid of heights and cannot complete the walk, you can take it in phases since it is divided into three parts. The walk allows you to explore Nyungwe from a bird’s point of view.
After the walk, drive back to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Transfer to Volcanoes National Park
Day 3 is our last day in Nyungwe, and after everyone has had breakfast, we check out of the lodge and drive to Volcanoes National Park. Upon arrival at the Volcanoes National Park, check into our lodge and have lunch before proceeding to take a guided walk to the Twin Lakes. We then have dinner and an overnight at the lodge, preparing for the next day’s trek.
Day 4: Trekking gorillas and visit the Iby’iwacu community
After breakfast early at the lodge, we head into the national park. You will be selected in groups of 8, assigned gorilla families, and briefed about the trek rules and regulations. The trek through the national park is either easy or hard, depending on the family you have been assigned. The duration of the trek depends on several factors, including gorilla movement and how fast or slow you are going. After locating the gorillas, you spend an hour with them before returning to the headquarters. You can have lunch and rest a bit, and after that, get your certificates for trekking gorillas and contributing to their conservation.
After gorilla trekking, we then transferred to the Iby’iwacu village for a cultural tour. The community is a few meters away from the national park and was formed to reform poachers and get them other genuine income-generating activities. This is the time to mingle and learn more about the locals, watch cultural dances, enjoy some traditional music, and later drive back to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Transfer and Departure to Kigali
After an early morning breakfast, you link up with your guide and drive back to Kigali. You will be dropped at your place of reference at the airport or accommodation if you booked any, and this marks the end of the 5 day gorilla and chimpanzee trek in Rwanda.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is carried only to one destination, Volcanoes National Park, just a 2 to 3-hour drive from Kigali International Airport. The national park is home to over 400 gorillas and 15 habituated families. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes is carried out throughout the year, and the best time is during the dry months: December to February and June to September.
Gorilla trekking permits are necessary since this is the only document to help you gain entrance to see and track the Mountain gorillas. The permit costs are different depending on who is purchasing. For example, it is $300 for EAC citizens, $500 for African citizens, and $1500 for foreign non-residents. Rwanda, however, offers discounts to tourists who come to the country for conferences and purchase in bulk, and a 10% discount is offered to those who have pre-booked to visit Nyungwe Forest National Park and Akagera National Park.
Gorilla trekking takes 2 to 6 hours, depending on the family you have allocated. Still, before that, you will attend a briefing about what to expect and the rules to follow while trekking, some of which include only 8 people allowed to trek a gorilla family per day. No one who is sick will be allowed to trek the gorillas. One hour is spent with the gorillas after finding them, so avoid making noise, You will have designated areas for eating and drinking but not with the gorillas, leave a distance of 7 meters between you and the gorillas and avoid littering the national park.
There are other activities that you can engage in while on a gorilla trek safari in Volcanoes National Park, and these include:
Visiting the Iby’iwacu village: The village was set up to provide refuge and jobs for former poachers who have now helped conserve the gorillas. Some of the locals in the village act as porters, helping you carry your luggage, and you get to enjoy some traditional music and dance from the locals and learn about the Kinyarwanda culture.
Kwita Izina ceremony: This is an annual ceremony that several dignitaries and the president of Rwanda attend. It is where baby gorillas are given names, and it was started to stop poaching of the gorillas and protect them so that their numbers increase.
Birding and golden monkey trekking: Golden monkey tracking is one of the activities carried out in Volcanoes, with many gold-coated monkeys found in the park. They are not hard to trek, and you must follow the bamboo shoots left on the ground. You also get to enjoy a bird-watching spree, which is best carried out in the wet season when the migratory birds are around.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Rwanda
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is mainly carried out in Nyungwe Forest National Park and is a famous activity after gorilla trekking. Also referred to as Chimpanzee tracking, it involves trekking through the forest in search of the habituated chimp families, taking between 1 and 6 hours. Nyungwe is also home to 13 different primate species, which can be seen during a chimpanzee trek safari. Nyungwe Park also offers a chimpanzee habituation experience where you get to spend extra time with the chimpanzees studying their behavior.
As you plan a chimpanzee trek safari to Nyungwe, there are several things you need to know, like the cost of the chimp trek permit, the rules of trekking, and when to go.
A chimpanzee trek permit is a document that is issued by the Rwanda Development Board and is the only document that will give you access to the chimpanzees. The permit costs $25 for EAC citizens, $250 for foreign non-residents, and $75 for foreign residents, and these need to be booked in advance since there are only two chimpanzee families to trek. You will also need to pay the park entry fees, which are $60 for foreign residents, $10 for EAC citizens, $60 for African citizens, and $100 for foreign non-residents.
You also need to know the tips and rules of trekking. These include keeping a distance of 7 meters when with the chimps, eating, drinking, children below 15 years are not allowed to trek, smoking and touching the chimpanzees is prohibited, all-flash photography has been prohibited, you will not be allowed to trek the chimpanzees if you feel sick, cover your mouth and nose when you feel like sneezing and coughing, you spend only an hour with the chimps and only groups of 8 are allowed to trek the chimpanzees one at a time.
There are several activities that you can carry out in Nyungwe National Park, and these include the following.
The Canopy walk: The canopy walk became one of the activities tourists look forward to participating in when visiting the country for a chimpanzee trek safari. The canopy walk is the best in East Africa, rising about 74 meters above sea level and 160 kilometers long. It will take you about 2 to 3 hours to complete the canopy walk, and it gives you a bird’s view of the national park, where you can see the different wildlife species in the park, including monkeys, bird species, baboons, and chimpanzees.
Exploring the Gisakura tea estate: Located outside the national park, the Gisakura tea estate is one of the most visited in Rwanda. A trip through the plantations lets you see how the tea is grown, picked/harvested, processed, and packed for sale. You will also be served a fresh cup of tea while walking.
Hiking: Nyungwe Forest National Park has numerous trek routes that can be used for hiking, and you can use one of them to explore the national park. The most used trek route is the waterfalls trail, which takes you through the forest to the magnificent waterfalls offering great views. The guided nature walks are usually longer and can handle almost half a day; on these walks, you get to see a variety of primate and bird species.
What to pack for a gorilla and chimpanzee trek safari in Rwanda
The packing list for both gorilla and chimpanzee trekking is almost the same. Since you will be trekking through almost similar terrains filled with bushes and trees, the most important things you need to pack include a first aid kit, clothes in a neutral color, long-sleeved shirts, pants, ankle-length hike boots, sunscreen, insect repellent, a sunhat, sunglasses, a camera, flashlight, waterproof backpack, waterproof raincoat, poncho or warm sweater, extra batteries and snacks among others.
For an ultimate and all-inclusive fun-filled gorilla and chimpanzee trek safari in Uganda, contact us for a tailored itinerary and more details. Our staff is ready to answer any queries you might have.