Five Primates to View in Rwanda

Known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is a place of rich culture and breathtaking natural scenery. While its history as a nation is marred by devastating genocide, its people are positive and extremely friendly, and there is a busy and welcoming atmosphere. Rwanda is popular among visitors for its ease of primate viewing and the large variety of species inhabiting the region. Here are five fascinating species that anyone visiting this country should seek out:

Black-and-white colobus monkey

Another impressive inhabitant of the Nyungwe Forest, the colobus is highly recognizable for the long white mane-like fur stretching from its shoulders, which contrasts against the shorter black fur on the rest of its body. Its name comes from the Greek word meaning mutilated because, uniquely among primates, the colobus has no thumbs.

Mountain Gorillas

Native to the Virunga Volcanoes, a few hours’ drive north of Kigali, these gorillas are famous for the research carried out by Dian Fossey and are the setting for the famous documentary Gorillas in the Mist. The area is home to a number of habituated gorilla families, meaning a simple gorilla-tracking experience, one of the easiest available in Africa. A true highlight of a visit to Rwanda.

Golden monkeys

Another reason to travel to the Virunga Volcanoes area is that the endangered golden monkey lives among bamboo vegetation towards the bottom of the slopes. Nimble and energetic, it’s very difficult to catch these distinctive monkeys on camera, so set your shutter speed too fast!


Nyungwe Forest in the south of Rwanda is an incredible forest reserve. A particular drawcard of this area is the excellent chimpanzee viewing available. An estimated 500 chimps live in this reserve, and visitors will hear them before spotting them, their excitable hooting carrying them through the forest.

L’Hoest’s monkey

This primate has a striking appearance that includes a burst of white fur around the neck, which stands out against the sleek dark fur on the rest of its body. Another distinctive feature is its orange eyes, surrounded by the male with pale violet skin. They can be found in the Nyungwe Forest.

Primate enthusiasts will have the time of their lives seeking monkeys, chimps, and gorillas in Rwanda. It will be essential to make bookings through a knowledgeable operator in order to arrange permits, guides, and itineraries to suit your preference, priorities, and time and budget constraints.