Habituated primates in Nyungwe forest national park
The habituated primates of Nyungwe forest national park are apes that tourists can trek and spend some hours around them in their natural habitats. Habituation of these primates in Nyungwe forest national park is done by a group of trained people who be around these primates for a period of 2-3 years until they get used to human presence. When the primates are fully habituated, it means you can be around them for a specific period of time and they won’t harm you because they are used to human presence.
Nyungwe forest national park is home to over 13 primate species but not all of them are fully habituated. The fully habituated primates in Nyungwe forest national park are the chimpanzees and the black and white colobus monkeys which means tourists can visit them in their natural habitat and watch them do daily activities, learn about their habits and take photos.
Apart from chimpanzees and Angolan colobus monkeys, other primates in Nyungwe forest national park include blue monkeys, grey checked mangabeys, crowned monkeys, vervet monkeys, L’hoest’s monkeys, dent’s mona monkeys, olive baboons, silver monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys among others.
The following are habituated primates in Nyungwe forest national park in Rwanda;
Chimpanzees: The chimpanzees are a reason as to why Nyungwe forest national park is famous today. Nyungwe forest national park hosts 2 fully habituated chimpanzees. The small habituated group is found in Nyungwe forest near Uwinka and it has over 30 members. The other larger group is found in Cyamudongo forest and it has 40 – 60 habituated members.
Nyungwe forest and Cyamudongo forests were once one forest but due to human settlement and clearing of land for agriculture, the forest was separated and one was named Nyungwe and the other Cyamudongo. Trekking both chimpanzee families give the same experience but the easiest is the one in Cyamudongo forest.
Black and white colobus monkeys: Black and white colobus monkeys also known as Angolan colobus monkeys are the biggest troops of colobus monkeys in Africa because their groups can even have more than 400 individuals. Trekking the colubus monkeys in Nyungwe forest national park is amazing as the monkeys are beautiful and playful.
Trekking the black and white colobus monkeys early in the morning gives tourists an opportunity to meet them when there just fresh from their nests. Tourists will get an opportunity to watch them feed, hunt, couple, patrol, breastfeed, play, etc. During that whole period, the tourists are able to learn about the habits of monkeys and take photos.
One of the habituated groups of black and white colobus monkeys in Nyungwe forest national park is found in Gisakura and it has 30-40 individuals, and these only live in this forest and have never lived in Nyungwe forest. The other group is found in Nyungwe forest near Uwinka reception center but trekking any of the two gives the same experience.
Why were primates habituated in Nyungwe forest national park?
The habituation of primates starts way back by different primatologists in different parks across the world. The habituation of primates including those in Nyungwe forest national park was done to make these primates get used to human presence. The activity of habituating the primates in Nyungwe forest national park took about 2 years of researchers and rangers being with these primates until they passed a mocking stage.
Primate trekking in Nyungwe forest national park has attracted a lot of tourists to the park because this gives them an opportunity to spend some time with these primates. The most trekked primates in Nyungwe forest national park are the chimpanzees and this is because they share 98% human DNA.
Trekking any of the primates is done by those having trekking permits and for the chimpanzee, the permits are got from Rwanda Development Board by persons above the age of 15 years and Angolan colobus monkeys, the permits are got from park offices and sold to all people above the age of 12 years.
What is the best time to visit Nyungwe forest national park for primate trekking?
Primate trekking in Nyungwe forest national park can be done at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The drier months which occur from June to September and December to February are the best to trek primates in Nyungwe forest national park. This is because, during these months, there is little and sometimes no rainfall in the park, the trekking trails are dry, the vegetation is short giving clear views of the park primates and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Tourists can still visit Nyungwe forest national park for primate trekking in the rainy seasons of March to May and October to November but there is always plenty of rainfall in the park. During the rainy season, there is plenty of rainfall in the park, the trekking trails are muddy and slippery, the roads leading to the park are passable and the vegetation in the park is short giving unclear views of the park animals.
Accommodation on a primate safari in Nyungwe forest national park
Tourists coming to Nyungwe forest national park for primate trekking don’t have to worry about where they will stay if they have more than a day in Nyungwe forest national park. There are accommodation facilities around Nyungwe forest national park and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury options like One & Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Top View Hotel, Gisakura Guest House, Gisakura Family Hostel, E.R.A Gisakura Visitor Guesthouse, Emeraude Kivu Resort, Peace Guesthouse, Hotel du Lac, Rusizi Progress Hotel, Golden Monkey Hotels, Comoran Lodge, and Delta Resort Hotel among others.
Apart from primate trekking what other activities are done in Nyungwe forest national park?
Apart from primate trekking, birding is another activity that can be done in Nyungwe forest national park. The activity is done on different trails within the park with a help of a guide. Carrying your birding book and a pair of binoculars, you will be able to spot birds such as Strange weaver, Archer’s robin-chat, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Albertine owlet, Neumann’s warbler, Rwenzori turaco, regal sunbird, red sunbird, stripe-breasted tit, Rockefeller’s sunbird, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori nightjar, buff-throated Apalis, shelley’s crimsonwing, Rwenzori Apalis, handsome spurfowl, blue-headed sunbird, red-throated alethe, dwarf honeyguide, archer’s robin-chat, mountain masked Apalis, and red-throated alethe among others.
Tourists after trekking primates of Nyungwe forest national park can have a visit to any of the nearby communities. The community visit will give tourists an opportunity of meeting the local people interact with them how they live their day-to-day lives, be part of community activities, and get entertained by traditional dancers. During the community visits, the tourist can still visit the towns and interact with local traders or extend to Lake Kivu.
The canopy walk is another activity done in Nyungwe forest national park. The activity which is done by people above the age of 6 years is a guided activity that starts with a briefing before tourists use Igishigishigi trail to connect to the canopy that is raised 50m above the ground. The canopy walk enables tourists to have an aerial view of the national park, surrounding features, plants, trees, mammals, primates, and different bird species.
There are guided nature walks in Nyungwe forest national park and they are done in the different hiking trails of the park. The nature walks are done by those that want to explore Nyungwe forest national park on foot. During the nature walk activity, the armed ranger guides lead tourists through the trails while protecting them from different park animals while showing them the different plants, birds, mammals, and primates of the park.