Nyungwe National Park hosts most of Rwanda’s last-remaining chimps, with the rest living in Gishwati-Mukura Forest National Park. The population here numbers around 100, concentrating in a 7.5-square-mile remnant forest known as Cyamudongo Forest. While accidental sightings are possible, we recommend a dedicated chimp trek for travelers wanting to see these close evolutionary cousins.
Chimps are fast-moving and, unlike mountain gorillas, tend not to hang around in a single place for hours. So be prepared for a brisk hike of several hours over varied terrain as you look for your chimp group, usually off the main trails. Once you catch up with them, you have an hour to watch them—but don’t expect to sit on your laurels for that hour. The chimps will likely be moving quickly through the trees as they forage for food and socialize.
Your best chance of sightings is from June to August, when one of their favorite sources of food—the fig tree—comes into fruit. Stuffed with food, the chimps don’t tend to move quite as fast. Other animals that may be seen on a chimp trek include blue, vervet, and crowned monkeys, as well as birds like the blue-headed sunbird, the eastern mountain greenbul, and the dwarf honeyguide.
Learn more about chimpanzee treks.