Chimps & Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tour
This 5-day Chimps & Rwanda Gorilla Tour gives us the opportunity to visit the Nyungwe Forest National Park to trek chimps and to the Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking. You will also get opportunities to see other primates and birds along the way as you trek the major primates and crown the visit with cultural exposure.
Nyungwe Forest Chimpanzee Adventure
The Nyungwe rainforest is located in southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, to the south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best-preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of the Nile sources.
Nyungwe is the source of Africa’s great rivers. Rain that falls on the east side feeds the Nile and on the west runs to the Congo. The Congo-Nile Divide is a mountain range that runs north to south through Rwanda. Nyungwe receives more than 2000mm a year of rain. Recently, Nyungwe opened a canopy walk, the only one of its kind in East Africa. This is a wonderful vantage point to view the incredible biodiversity of this rare forest.
The Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, making it a priority for conservation in Africa. The forest is situated in a region in which several large-scale biogeographical zones meet and the variety of terrestrial biomes provides a great span of microhabitats for many different species of plants and animals.
The park contains 13 primate species (25% of Africa’s total), 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian,s and 38 reptile species. Many of these animals are restricted-range species that are only found in the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion in Africa. In fact, the number of endemic species found here is greater than in any other forest in the Albertine Rift Mountains that has been surveyed. The forest, which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis), the latter now extinct in Angola for the intense hunt to which they were subjected and two other threatened species of monkeys; the owl-faced monkey and reported but unverified sightings of the golden monkey.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans) lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo), and spans 160 sq km covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.
A Gorilla Enjoyng its meal in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is best known for the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). Other mammals include: the golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The bushbuck population is estimated to be between 1760-and 7040 animals. There are also reported to be some elephants in the park, though these are now very rare. There are 178 recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park
Upon your arrival at the airport, you will be met by our safari guide who will drive you to Nyungwe Forest National Park. This is a 240km journey that takes about 7 hours with stopovers at a number of historical and cultural sites within Butare and Nyanza. These will include the National Museum and the Old King’s Palace for interesting cultural exposure. You will have lunch in the town of Butare and proceed to Nyanza arriving in the evening. Dinner and overnight at the lodge are booked for you. Meal plan: Dinner
Day 2: Chimp trek in Nyungwe
You will have an early breakfast and report at the Nyungwe Park headquarters for a briefing by the park rangers on the chimp trekking rules. You will after the briefing start the trek in search of the chimps in the verdant rain forest. During the trek, you will have the chance to see other primates such as the Rwenzori colobus, Silver monkey, Chimpanzees, the Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’hoests monkey, and the Owl faced monkey. You will return to the lodge and rest till dinner time and overnight. Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Transfer to Ruhengeri
Today you travel to Ruhengeri town near the Volcanoes National Park. You will have a tour of this town and also visit the vibrant local markets before retiring to your lodge for dinner and overnight. Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park
You will have an early breakfast and move to the Park headquarters where you will receive a briefing on the rules of gorilla trekking and be allocated the gorilla group you will be trekking. You will after the briefing follow the ranger guides into the forest to search for the gorillas in the Volcano Virunga Hills and the verdant valley. Once traced you will spend a maximum of one hour observing the gorillas in their natural setting. You will return to your lodge for lunch and later visit the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera in the late afternoon for a cultural experience. You will have dinner and overnight at your lodge of booking. Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Transfer back to Kigali and departure
You will after breakfast travel back to Kigali. Depending on the time of your departure flight you may have a brief Kigali City excursion to visit the Genocide memorial site and the colorful markets for souvenirs before being transferred to the Airport for your departure flight. Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
END OF SAFARI
When to go
The dry(ish) seasons, December to February, June to September – though note that it can rain at any time.
Where to stay
In Kigali, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is conveniently located (15-30 min from the airport), with double b&b. It has a sister hotel at Gisenyi, on Lake Kivu; double b&b, which can be used as a base for gorilla trekking (90 min to park entrance). Volcanoes Virunga Lodge is more convenient (40 min to 1hr) and has a good reputation but you pay for the spectacular location, which includes all meals and drinks. We can also offer you a variety of other places to stay near the park.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Permits
Permits to see the Rwanda Gorillas (US$1,500 for foreign residents) are booked through the Tourism and Conservation Reservation Office of the Rwanda Development Board (Included in the price of the safari and we process them for you). Numbers are limited and permits get snapped up well in advance.
What to take
Dress carefully for the trek: trekking trousers (carry waterproof trousers), layered shirts with long sleeves, waterproof top, walking boots, gloves (gardening gloves are ideal) for grasping stinging nettles, plenty of water, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect spray, camera. Porters to carry your backpack and give you a push/pull on steep bits (worth hiring, for £6.50, even if you don’t think you need one) will provide a walking stick, or you may prefer to bring your own pole.