Forest and friends

Forest and friends: a winning combination.

This past weekend, a group of volunteers and I went to Nyungwe forest located in southwestern Rwanda. Nyungwe forest is home to chimpanzees, miles of mountainous rainforest, and colobus monkeys to name a few. It also is home to many large ferns called “igishigishi” (so far my favorite word in Kinyarwanda).

The morning started off with a hearty hike in the forest, in an attempt to track the chimpanzees. We were met by a park ranger who was in communication with the other rangers in the park. There are several families of chimps that live in Nyungwe and we were lucky enough to see one of them, grazing high above the canopy. When it rains, they find cover on the ground, so we spotted them just before the rains hit.

Hearing the chimpanzees call to each other from high above the canopy was an experience you can only imagine. From the low guttural utterances to the higher pitched vocalizations, the calls were just like what I had heard in all of those National Geographic documentaries, growing up as a child. The calls were also communicated across species. There were smaller monkeys, whose calls alerted the chimps that there might be danger. In the rainforest, species can often work together to spot danger or interference.

Later that day, after a morning chimp trekking hike, we did another forest hike, across a suspension bridge that overlooked several mountain ridges. For more photos, please see the photo section!

Though it was a 7 hour journey to the rainforest canopy, I am very glad I was able to make it and cannot wait for more adventures in Rwanda!