How does the chimpanzee trekking compare with the gorilla trekking

The gorilla trekking/tracking is obviously the number one tour activity that majority tourists book to see primates in the African jungle. The chimpanzee trekking/tracking on the other hand is normally just an add-on and many tourists wonder whether it is any different from the gorilla trek and whether it is a worthwhile addition to the already expensive gorilla trekking. Afterall, they are all primates!! In fact, some tourists cannot properly differentiate a chimpanzee from the gorilla.

 
Which one is the gorilla & which one is the chimp? 🙂

Below I try to throw a bit of perspective to help you see how these two great apes with interesting wildlife experiences compare and help you decide whether you should do one over the other, or do both of them.

Meeting up with the gorillas and chimps – character & organization

The Mountain Gorillas are big and have an intimidating look, but they are so gentle and shy, nothing like the aggressive “King Kong” gorilla portrayed in the movies. You will find the gorillas who live in relatively small tight families of about 8 – 15 individuals going about their business silently on the ground which is mostly feeding on vegetation, grooming each other and resting. It is the big silverback, the head of the family, that normally imposes himself in space to show who is boss and ensure no creature is getting too close to his members, while other members are mostly shy and retreating, always trying to get away from onlookers.

Chimpanzees are the opposite of the gorillas. Chimps are extremely active…and wild. Unlike gorillas that live in small family units keeping tightly together in a small area, the chimps live as a community of 100s of individuals occupying a large territory. They engage in loud vocalizations & the traditional thunderous hitting of tree barks to communicate with other members across the wide territory. Being in the midst of those vocalizations is quite hair-raising experience. They move swiftly, be it on ground or swinging from tree to tree and therefore need you to be on your toes almost all the time. Every member or group of members in the chimp community can engage in different activities giving you a diversity of views and experiences. You can decide to follow one member or group in the big community.

In a nutshell:

Meeting the gorillas can be likened to bumping into your favorite celebrity for the first time that leaves you astounded/starstruck, while meeting the chimp is like bumping into a long-lost crazy buddy who will treat to you to hearty laughter…

Comparing the trekking experience and the level of difficulty

The gorilla trekking level of difficulty is normally a concern because the mountain gorillas live in mountains covered in dense vegetation. It can be a difficult or easy hike to find the gorillas depending on their location, however after finding them the experience is much slower as the gorillas do not move very often and can stay in same area till you leave. On the other hand, the chimps are quite swift and can be quite a task following them up and down.

Verdict

I highly recommend combining these the gorilla trek and the chimpanzee tracking. Both of these tours can be done on trips in Uganda and trips in Rwanda.

What is the best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda? Best time to see gorillas?

What is the best time to visit Rwanda for the gorilla tour? What is the best time for the gorilla trekking? What is the best time that will give me the best chance to see the gorillas?

These are common questions from tourists planning a gorilla trekking trip in Rwanda and Uganda. Gorilla trekking is number one on the list of top things to do in Rwanda.

What is the best time that will give you the best chance to see the gorillas? And the answer is simple:

ALL YEAR ROUND the gorillas can be seen.

BUT THE WEATHER…

However, the weather can have an effect on the level of difficulty of the gorilla trek (but not on the chances of finding the gorillas), and therefore you may choose to do the gorilla trek when it is easier to trek (or hardest to trek, for hiking fanatics) because the gorillas live in the rugged mountains densely covered in vegetation presenting a challenge for trekking. And of course, the mountains are easier to trek in dry conditions than in wet conditions.

There are two weather seasons in Rwanda, the WET/RAINY season (March – May & Sept – Oct) that sees frequent rains, and the DRY season (June – August & Dec – Feb) which sees more sunshine and less rains.

The most preferred time for the gorilla trek is during the long dry spell from June – August and a bit of September. The mountains do not receive frequent rains and so the trails are dry most of the time. There will be some occasional rains though. This can be taken as the best time for the gorilla tracking in Rwanda.

The wettest period is from March to May, with rains experienced almost on a daily during the peak rainy month of April. This is the least favorable time for the gorilla tracking adventure.

During the wet season however, the gorillas tend to leave the high elevations of the mountains because it is too cold and will retreat closer to the warmer altitudes towards the base of the mountains. During this time the gorillas may be easier to find 😊. The irony!

BEST TIME WITH NO CROWDS

Don’t want crowds??? There are fewer people tracking the gorillas during the wet season hence you have a more intimate encounter with the gorillas. We call this time of the year the low season because of low numbers of tourists. A number of lodges discount their prices (low season prices) and therefore it is the best time for the gorilla trek if you want to save.

VERDICT:

The gorilla trekking can be done ALL YEAR ROUND

Uganda offers massive discount on gorilla and chimpanzee tracking permit prices for the covid time

Uganda has made cheaper the pricey gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking activities by introducing massive discounts on the two of Uganda’s most popular wildlife activities. The promotional gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking permit prices shall run for four months from December 2020 to March 2021.

Uganda Gorilla trekking covid promotional prices are as follows:

Foreigners visiting Uganda -> gorilla trekking permit reduced from 700USD to 400USD

Foreign residents in Uganda & East Africa -> gorilla trekking permit reduced from 600USD to 300USD

Ugandans & other East African citizens -> gorilla trekking permit reduced from 250,000 Uganda shillings (70USD) to 150,000 Uganda shillings (41USD)

Uganda chimpanzee tracking covid promotional prices are as follows:

Foreigners visiting Uganda -> chimpanzee trekking permit reduced from 200USD to 150USD

Foreign residents in Uganda & East Africa -> chimpanzee tracking permit reduced from 150USD to 100USD

Ugandans & other East African citizens -> chimpanzee tracking permit reduced from 150,000 Uganda shillings (41USD) to 100,000 Uganda shillings (27USD)

With the tourism industry down due to the corona virus pandemic, the Uganda Wildlife Authority is aiming to make visiting and touring Uganda attractive with more affordable prices on flagship activities such as the gorilla trek. With several countries easing on covid 19 pandemic lock downs and allowing international travel, and recent confirmation of covid 19 vaccines which could be available before end of the year, this is perhaps the best time to visit Uganda and take advantage of cheap prices, absence of crowds and the nature being at its best as we come out of the wet season that leaves the environment lush and scenery spectacular. There has also been a 50% discount on access fees to several safari parks such as Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park to make a tour in Uganda very affordable.

Below is the official communication from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) regarding the promotional prices

Comparing the chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda and Uganda – which country offers the best chimp tour

When it comes to safari destinations in Africa, Uganda and Rwanda are popular for their primate adventures and most visitors include one or both of the two countries in their African trips just for the primates. The two most popular primate adventures that attract tourists to this part of Africa are the gorilla trekking and the chimpanzee tracking. The gorilla trek is obviously the number one primate adventure which you can do in Uganda and Rwanda as the prime destinations. In this article I compared the gorilla trekking in Uganda versus Rwanda when deciding on the country for the gorilla tour. The chimpanzee trek is often an afterthought from the gorillas, which shouldn’t be the case because the chimps who are our closest relatives offer a different experience, which you could find is way more exciting than the gorillas!

In this article I compare the chimpanzee trekking in Uganda and the chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda to guide you in making a choice if you are wondering where to go for the chimps tour in Africa.

Pros: Why you should do your chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda

  1. Relatively cheap permit: The chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda costs $90 which is cheaper than the $200 charged when trekking in Kibale National Park Uganda’s prime chimp tour destination.
  2. Guaranteed sightings of chimps: The park will ensure you trek one of the only two habituated chimpanzee groups in Nyungwe National Park that is confirmed to be more accessible that day hence guaranteeing your sightings.
  3. Great hiking adventure because of the mountain landscape: Nyungwe forest National Park where the chimp trek is done is a mountain forest which offers an amazing hike for the active travelers and hiking enthusiast.
  4. Amazing scenery in the mountain forest: Nyungwe forest which is located on the rolling highlands rewards with breathtaking views as a bonus on your chimp trek.
  5. Add the canopy walk experience which is a highlight of Nyungwe: The best canopy walk experience by far in the East African region, a tour in Nyungwe is not complete without the canopy walk adventure in Nyungwe that will spice your chimpanzee trekking adventure in Rwanda.
  6. You can stay at Lake Kivu one of the most beautiful lakes in Africa, while tracking the chimps: Also, a big bonus to trekking chimpanzee is fall back to nearby Lake Kivu to offer great relaxation and amazing scenery after trek.

Here is a short 2 day chimpanzee trip to Nyungwe National Park

Cons: some reasons you may decide not to do your chimp trek in Rwanda

  1. Limited chimpanzee tracking permits: Rwanda has only one park for the chimpanzee tracking (Nyungwe Forest National Park) and just two habituated groups in the park. Since only 8 people can track the chimps in a day, that means only 16 permits are available in one day. The limited permits can be a hinderance to your trip planning as it is easy to miss the permits which sell out quickly.
  2. Hard trek: The mountainous terrain of Nyungwe can be a challenge for the trek and especially given the chimps are also very active primates. Older and less fit people may find the chimp trek in Rwanda quite a challenge

Pros: Why you may prefer do to your chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

  1. Many options for the chimp trek: There many destinations in Uganda for the chimpanzee trek. Unlike Rwanda which has just one park, Uganda has several destinations where you can do the chimp trek in the different regions and some of them include Kibale forest, Budongo forest, Kalinzu forest, etc… This abundance of the chimpanzee destinations makes it easy for you to incorporate the adventure in your Uganda safari trip.
  2. Many chimpanzee permits: With many destinations and many habituated chimpanzee groups, there is a lot of availability of chimpanzee tracking permits in Uganda and therefore not so easy to miss out.
  3. Can get affordable chimp tracking: Price of chimpanzee trekking permit differs according to the destination and one can find a cheaper chimp trekking permit for as low as $40, a great thing for the backpackers and students who may not afford the $200 price of the chimpanzee tracking permit in Kibale National Park which is the country’s major chimpanzee tours destination.
  4. Easier trek: Terrain of many of the destinations is not mountainous hence offering an easier hike that is favorable even for the older citizens or less fit persons.

Cons: Why you may not prefer Uganda for your chimpanzee trekking

  1. Some destinations do not provide a 100% chance of seeing the chimps. However the prime destination Kibale National Park offer 100% chance of seeing the chimps.
  2. Trek is less exclusive with many tracking groups setting off into the forest and can cross paths as each tracks down their habituated chimp group.

hike to the twin falls in Rwenzori Mountains

This is a short one day hike in the base of the Rwenzori Mountain ranges that offers a taste of the rated best mountains for hiking in Africa due to their incredible beauty and natural diversity, rewarding you with an amazing experience of two beautiful waterfalls, locally called the twin falls – Rwatha & Nyamughasana falls (collectively called the Hon. Nyombi Tembo falls).

The longer Rwatha falls on the left and the bigger nyamughasana falls on the right

The two falls’ uniqueness lies in the fact that they are created by two distinct rivers from the Rwenzori mountains(River Rwatha and River Nyamughasana), flowing over the same rocks/cliff to create the two beautiful waterfalls side by side and joining their waters at the pool below and thereafter continue flowing as one River Nyamughasana. The reason why the locals decided to give the unified river the same name Nyamughasana is an interesting story you shall learn from the local guide.

nyamughasana falls

There are other sets of popular waterfalls in Uganda such as the Murchison & Uhuru falls in Murchison Falls National Park are also located side by side but both belong to the same river Nile, and the Sipi falls which has 3 sets of waterfalls located along the same river.

The starting point at Nyamughasana river crossing

The hike is 1.6 km long which starts with crossing through unified Nyamughasana River down the stream, dipping your feet in the coldwater and wading across. The water is quite cold with temperature about 6 degrees Celsius which offers much need soothing before taking on the rise.

steep trek after crossing River Nyamughasana

The hike starts with a steep rise going up to an altitude of about 1800 meters before starting the descend towards the waterfall. Along the hike you shall turn back to enjoy the breathtaking views across the mountainous landscape and the Nyamughashana river simmering in the valleys and disappearing in the mountains. The first half of the trek goes through short grasses and shrubs, and the next half is through a forest that with birds; a keen birder will take some time looking out for some species and if lucky, may record some mountain specials.

enjoying quality time at falls

After somewhat about 40 minutes you shall get down to the beautiful falls, an incredible reward after the hike. You can picnic at the falls for an hour, take a dive in the pool if you can bear the cold temperature in the water, or simply stay put and enjoy the tranquility.

After spending an amazing time at the falls, you hike the same way back. The round hike is 3.2km in total.

amazing landscape going through the countryside

The hike can also be started from the nearest town called Kyarumba and trek all the way to the starting point, this is roughly an extra 4km giving you chance to enjoy the landscape, see the villages and the life in the countryside.

This beautiful hike is a good addition to the safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park giving you a chance for a brief experience of Rwenzori Mountains after an amazing wildlife experience.

Book this trip to experience the Waterfalls hike in the Rwenzoris

4 days Queen Elizabeth National Park safari and Rwenzori waterfalls hike