Having seen phenomenal films like King Kong, travelers are always quick to think that when you want to see primates and have an exceptional jungle experience, you go to Africa. True enough, Africa is home to the most diverse and large population of primates. But Africa is so huge, many would wonder which country is best for a primate viewing experience. Well, it is not open to question that Rwanda is one of the best country in Africa, nay, the world, to meet primates.
Let’s discover Rwanda one primate at a time…
Did you know there are only about 900 mountain gorillas left in the world? Over half of the remaining great apes live around the Virunga mountains in which part of it lies in Rwanda. None of them can even be found in any zoo. Hence, these mountain gorillas are usually the main reason why people are drawn to visit Rwanda gorilla tours, apart from its scenic views.
The best news? You can go to the jungle and have a meet and greet with these great apes! Gorilla trekking, in fact, makes one of the most thrilling adventures ever. You get to experience the wild as if you’re part of Tarzan or Jungle Book. You get to hear jungle birds and see other primates swinging on the trees, and may even spot other large mammals like elephants and warthogs! But the most exciting of all is to track a family of gorillas and observe them from up close — within a breathing distance, even.
Where to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda? Go to Volcanoes National Park. It provides a scenic setting for primate trekking and offers other activities as well, including caving.
Although gorilla trekking is regarded as a year-round activity, the best time to see these mountain gorillas are during the short dry season from mid-December to early February or over the long dry season months of June to September. Not only do these months offer the best trekking conditions, malaria risk is also at its lowest.
Recommended tour: 4 Days Primates Tour
Another primate that lures many travelers and adventurers into Rwanda is the chimpanzee. Did you know that chimpanzees are our closest animal relative? Scientists found that 98% of our DNA is actually the same with that of the chimpanzees’! These cheeky monkeys love swinging in the trees and their very fast and agile nature make it hard to catch them for a meet and greet. That’s what makes the experience of chimpanzee trekking incredibly exciting!
The best place to see chimpanzees in Rwanda is Nyungwe Forest National Park. With over 500 chimpanzees in the park, the chances of seeing them and observing them are higher despite these monkeys constantly moving from one place to another, building nests to rest on.
Contrary to the best time to see mountain gorillas, chimpanzee trekking is deemed best during the rainy season (February to early June and September to December). Yes, terrain may be more slippery but during these times, chimpanzee families often range far into the interiors of the forest for ample food.
As its name suggests, golden monkeys feature golden-orange patches on their upper flanks and back. It feeds on bamboos, leaves, fruits and sometimes even insects, and it typically lives in social groups of up to 30 of them.
These pretty-looking monkeys live mostly in Bamboo Forests of the Virungas including Volcanoes National Park. Some can also be found in Gishwati Forest in Northwestern Rwanda.
If you want to see these golden monkeys, you can go on fascinating golden monkey trekking tours. Two groups can be tracked in Volcanoes National Park: The Musongga Golden Monkey group made up of about 100 monkeys on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi; and the Kabatwa Golden Monkey Group made comprised of about 70 monkeys in the Bamboo Forest on Mount Sabyinyo.
Although no particular primate trekking tour is dedicated for these unique monkeys, many travelers still trying to find these monkeys when on other primate trekking tours. Obviously, with a distinct feature of looking like an owl, owl-faced monkeys have a bleak nose and is very shy. These monkeys live in small groups made up of one male and several females. However, due to its very elusive nature, their behavior is not very known and barely studied.
Owl-faced monkeys are best seen around Nyungwe Forest.
Angolan Black and White Colobus Monkey
Angolan Colobus monkeys are abundant in the montane forests of Rwanda and in fact, can be guaranteed almost on every trek. These monkeys have black and white ornaments on their bodies which are just really very graceful to look at. They are known to just sit and chatter on treetops and sloppily eat their meals.
You can best observe and track them in Nyungwe Forest where you can see about 350 to 400 of them in either one large group or scattered large groups.
Other Primates in Rwanda:
- Olive baboons
- Vervet monkeys
- Dent’s Mona Monkey
- Blue Monkey
- Potto — a nocturnal primate
- Bushbaby — a tarsier-looking nocturnal primate
- Hamlyn’s monkey
- Mona Monkey
- Grey-Cheeked Managbey
- Red Tailed Monkey
- L’Hoest Monkey
More than just an exceptional primate destination…
With over 13 primate species, it is no wonder why Rwanda gorilla tours is an optimum place to see monkeys and apes. However, the country is also naturally endowed with national parks that hosts a varied wildlife including giraffes, hippos, zebras, leopards, crocodiles, and more than 600 bird species. If you want to see these animals, you can also go on an exciting safari: 11 Days Rwanda Wildlife Safari.