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!
Pros: Why you should do your chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.