Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest
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Nyungwe is an ideal destination for lovers of primates, with 13 different species living here, and most visitors will go for at least one tracking experience, the most popular of which is chimpanzee trekking. Starting very early in the morning, chimps are tracked in groups of eight and as with the mountain gorillas, you will have just one hour in their company once they’ve been located. Sightings aren’t as reliable or as clear as gorillas however, since they often remain in dense forest, but their engaging playfulness and human-like characteristics make the long day worthwhile.
Chimpanzee habitation in Nyungwe forest is still very much a work in progress, and there are no guarantees that you'll come face-to-face with one in the wild. If you are lucky and happen to come across a group of chimps on the move, you need to be quick with your camera. Chimps have a tendency to quickly disappear in the underbrush, or climb up into the canopy and out of sight.
Much like gorilla tracking, you need to be prepared for lengthy and taxing hikes that can take up to several hours. Currently there are two habituated groups. The Uwinka group is the largest and usually found within 12km of the Uwinka Reception Centre, often off roads that are only drivable in sturdy 4WDs.
The second group, the Cyamudongo group, is named after the Cyamudongo forest, a protected annexe of Nyungwe Forest National Park located approximately 45 minutes west of Gisakura on the road out to Cyangungu. Again, you need to have your own 4WD in order to get to this tiny forest.
Trekking in search of grey-cheeked mangabey and Rwenzori colobus monkeys is also on offer in Nyungwe Forest, the latter of which can be found here in troops of several hundred. And there’s no need to trek far to see l'Hoest's monkeys you will often see them ambling along the roadside as you drive past.
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