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Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe

Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe

Overview: Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe

Sometimes numbering several hundred individuals, Nyungwe Forest’s troops of Rwenzori black-and-white colobus monkeys, Colobus angolensis rwenzori, are the biggest anywhere in Africa. As a species, they live, eat and sleep high up in the trees, which normally makes them difficult to see, yet this is one of the few places in the world where sightings are virtually guaranteed.

Planning & organising your walk

You can visit the colobus monkeys throughout the year, but the most popular times are during the drier months, between December and February, and from about June to mid-September. During the rainy seasons, April–May and in November, slippery terrain can make for more arduous walking. For more details, see Rwanda’s climate.

Age limit: You need to be at least 12 years old for this walk. This is strictly enforced and there is no flexibility.

Permits to visit the colobus monkeys

Even in peak season, there are generally plenty of permits available, though we would usually recommend booking them before your trip, to be on the safe side. We will make all the necessary arrangements for your permits prior to your trip.

What to take when walking

We would advise that you wear light clothes in neutral colours, with long trousers and long-sleeved tops, and a waterproof jacket to hand. Although the paths are relatively even, they can still be slippery, so strong shoes are advisable. You might also find a walking stick or pole helpful.

A pair of binoculars will usually enhance your experience, especially if you encounter the monkeys up in the trees, and both the scenery and the monkeys justify bringing a camera.

Do remember to take plenty of water (your guide will carry extra for you), and perhaps a snack, as no meals are included with this excursion.

The forest habitat of the colobus

The dense canopy of trees that dominate Nyungwe Forest is home to large troops of colobus that can number 300 or more individuals, although the troop visited on this walk is smaller than this. With their black fur and flowing white locks, that can create quite a spectacle – one that is enhanced by the forests’ colourful birdlife.

What to expect when you visit the monkeys

Walks to see the colobus monkeys take place through the morning and afternoon, with the first starting at about 8am.

You’ll be driven from your safari lodge to the national park’s HQ by your dedicated private guide. Here you'll meet up with a trekking guide and rangers from the park.

Each walking group has a maximum of ten people, accompanied by a guide and an armed park ranger.

Your walk takes you through rolling hills draped with lush tea plantations before reaching a small, isolated patch of forest. This is encircled by a track that rises around it, backed by tea bushes, affording a good vantage point from which to see the monkeys up in the trees. Your guide will be a wildlife specialist, and you’ll have plenty of time to ask questions, both about the monkeys and relating to the wider environment.

The duration of each walk depends on the location of the monkeys, although they are usually pretty straightforward to find. Once you encounter the monkeys, you’ll normally have up to an hour to observe them, with any conversation kept to a whisper. If the animals are on the move during this time, you can wander along the track to follow them, before walking back to the park HQ, and returning to your lodge.

How fit do I need to be?

The walking on a colobus trek is gentler than that for visiting the chimpanzees or gorillas, but it still helps if you have a reasonable general level of fitness, if only to enhance your overall enjoyment of the experience. As always on treks in Rwanda, walking will be at a slow pace, with time for breaks if needed. The walk would also be a good way to acclimatise for a trek to see the chimpanzees.

Photographing the monkeys

Colobus monkeys are pretty photogenic, but taking photographs of them in their treetop home can be quite challenging. Bear in mind, too, that the light can be poor in the rainforest and that use of flash is not permitted.

That said, this isn’t an environment for a massive, tripod-mounted lens – better to work with something that can be hand-held, or perhaps steadied with a monopod. We’ve found a zoom lens (80–200mmm f2.8) is very good, coupled with a high ISO setting.

Do also note that it’ll almost certainly be damp and, additionally, you might need to protect your camera against heavy rain.

Please note: Expert Africa arranges these excursions only as part of a full Expert Africa itinerary; for examples, see our Rwanda trips that include watching colobus monkeys.

Start location
Any of Expert Africa's lodges in the vicinity of the Nyungwe Forest
End location
Back at your safari lodge
Meals included
No meals included
Two hours approx, morning or afternoon
Maximum group size

Photo gallery

What to look forward to.

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Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe reviews

41 independent first-hand comments from our travellers.

7 reviews since August 2007
Mr & Mrs L.fromLondon

6 Nov 2019

"Great trek, easier than others"

"We really enjoyed watching the Colobus monkeys in the trees …" Read Mr & Mrs L.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr KfromNew York

2 Jul 2019

"Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe review"

"We were surrounded by the monkeys who were very relaxed and close. …" Read Mr K’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr F & familyfromBelgium

3 Feb 2019

"Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe review"

"Good for some nice pictures of these beautiful primates. …" Read Mr F & family’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Good

Overall rating: Average

Mr P.fromChilterns

16 Sep 2018

"Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe review"

"A great visit. …" Read Mr P.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Dr HfromLancs

28 Aug 2018

"Easy Trek"

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr HfromLondon

22 Jul 2018

"Excellent complementary actiivity"

"The Colobus Monkeys were easy to reach …" Read Mr H’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

See all Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe reviews

Ideas for holidays which can include Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe

Add this experience to these trip ideas or contact us to start planning your own tailor-made safari to Rwanda.

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Meet three iconic primates – gorillas, chimps and golden monkeys – and explore Rwanda's fascinating culture on this excellent value privately guided adventure.

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This example of a luxury holiday explores the wildlife of Nyungwe Forest, the scenic shores of Lake Kivu and the mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park, all accompanied by a private guide and vehicle.

US$10,190 - US$13,260 per person

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