Chimpanzee Trekking Experience in Uganda
The Chimpanzee Trekking Experience in Uganda, also known simply as chimp, is a species of great ape native to the forest and savannah of tropical Africa. Chimpanzees are highly social. They live in communities of several dozen animals, led by an alpha male and his coalition of male allies. Research has shown that male and female chimps have individual personalities, with females being more trusting and timider. Grooming is an important part of their social life, helping chimpanzees bond as they remove ticks and dirt from one another’s bodies.
Which types of chimpanzees are found in Uganda?
Chimps have four confirmed subspecies and a fifth proposed subspecies. The Eastern chimpanzee (P.t. schweinfurthii) is a subspecies that occurs in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.
The Eastern Chimps is one of the most extensively studied subspecies of chimpanzees, having been studied by Jane Goodall and others for over 50 years at some sites. These studies have shown that they are very like humans, have infants every 3-4 years, become sexually mature at around 9-12 and are one of the few animal species to regularly use tools. For instance, they fashion different tools to break open termite colonies or bee hives and then to fish out the termites or honey.
Eastern chimpanzee numbers are highest in the DRC but Uganda is home to a sizeable population of wild population of chimpanzees ranging from 150,000 to 250,000. Almost 1,500 are found in Kibale National Park, the most popular place for chimp tracking in the country.
Best places to see Chimpanzees in Uganda
Chimpanzee tracking is not only fascinating, but a lot of fun while in Uganda. It’s often a more active experience than gorilla trekking, which involves adopting a very submissive pose while in the presence of these forest giants. Chimps tend to move around more, and you can feel like a child on an adventure following them through the forest. The best places to see these great apes include;
- Kibaale Forest National Park
Kibaale is found in the western part of Uganda in the district of Kibaale and Kabalore. This park was established in 1995 to protect the forest and stop illegal logging but over the years, chimpanzees have become a key attraction.
With a population of over 1500 chimps, Kibale National Park is arguably the best place for tracking chimpanzees in the world. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale takes you to one of Uganda most visited parks.
The park is close to the Rwenzori mountains, Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Semuliki national park. Kibaale is refered to as the primate’s capital of the world because of the sheer variety of primates and for being the best place to track Chimpanzees in East Africa. The tracking in Kebale starts at 8am with a briefing from the rangers at the visitor’s center in Kanyanchu.
- Murchison Falls National Park ( Budongo forest)
Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area.
Murchison falls National Park is endowered with forest like Rabongo, Kaniyo pabidi forest and Budondongo forest, the Budongo forest make the park an ideal place for a Chimpanzee Trekking Experience in Uganda, there over 600 Chimpanzees in the forest which as well the largest mahogany forest found in East Africa.
Best time for Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison Falls National Park
The activity can be done at any time of the year, however trekking of chimps is best done during the dry season which is between June to September or December to February. It is done during this season simply because during dry season there is less rainfall in the park therefore chimpanzee trekking trails in the forest and access roads to the park will be passable.
Rainy/wet season is a good season too to track chimpanzees in Murchison falls national park, the months of March to April and October to November there is a lot of food for chimpanzees due to heavy rainfall which means that the chimpanzees will be found hence you will not be able to trek for long hours.
The trekking in the park can be done either in the morning at 7:30am or in the afternoon at 12:00pm. Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison falls national park starts with briefing at the park headquarters about the expectations, rules and regulations. As you you begin your journey to trek, you will be grouped into 8 people and given a park guide who will be sharing information about the chimpanzees while trekking.
It will take you about 1 to 4 hours or even more of trekking depending on the location of the chimpanzees because they like to move deep into the forest in search of food especially during the dry season. Once these are found, the visitors spend one hour in the presence of Chimpanzee.
Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The national park is located in western Uganda, spanning the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri. Its location is approximately 376 kilometres (234 mi), by road, southwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city.
Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the top Uganda safaris destinations that is visited by a large number of travelers that come to Africa due the unique facts about the park that gives travelers a lot of incredible unforgettable safari memories about the pearl of Africa. The true facts about the park is that it is known and famous for the unbelievable tree-climbing lions that found in the Ishasha sector of the park, there is a wide range of unique wildlife animal populations that is found in the park, it is home to the beautiful kazinga channel Queen Elizabeth national park as well as the wonderful crater lakes
In, chimpanzee trekking is done in kyambura gorge also known as kyambura game reserve; gazette for chimpanzees, monkeys and birds. Kyambura gorge is located northeast of queen Elizabeth National Park about 30km from mweya Uganda wildlife authority (UWA) headquarters. The habituated chimpanzees of Queen Elizabeth National Park are said to be approximately 24 individuals who were trained to get close to human appearance.
The Nyambura gorge lies 30km from the park, it is also known as the valley of apes and is found in the eastern part of famous Queen Elizabeth National Park. If you visit the gorge you will see a world different from the one you know, it is drained by river 1is eye catching and verdant and if you come to visit this gorge, Chimpanzee Trekking Experience in Uganda, you will go back home with wonders to talk and write about.
Chimpanzee trekking in kyambura gorge is extremely interesting and an exciting adventure as it gives an insight to travelers to explore pother primates that are found in the park as well as other wildlife animals. Such as the grey checked mangabey monkeys, the blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, the white and black colobus monkeys, the L’Hoest’s monkeys, as well as wildlife animals that come to the valley gorge to drink water from the kyambura gorge, such as the elephants, the hog forest hogs, the buffaloes, bushbucks among others.
Other places in Uganda where chimpanzee trekking can be carried out include :
Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary which is part of the Koome group of islands located in Lake Victoria (which also includes Kiimi, Nsazi, Koome, Bulago and Damba Islands). Ngamba Island is approximately 23 km south-east of Entebbe.
Tororo Semuliki reserve; it is located near the western border of Uganda, within sight of the Democratic Republic of Congo and this is the oldest protected natural area in Uganda having been set in 1926.
Kalinzu forest; is a forest thicket in western Uganda located in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The forest is known for chimpanzee tracking too. During your trip tp Queen Elizabeth National Park is place is also a better to place to choose for Chimpanzee trekking/habituation.
Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda
Chimpanzee habituation is the process of training these primates to get used to having human being around them and preparing them to be tracked. The process of habituating these primates take a long time and can even take up to 3 years before they are allowed to be opened for tracking.
The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is available exclusively in Kibale National Park. The trekking is more challenging than a standard chimp trek because non-habituated groups live deeper in the forest away from the busier trails, and they move more quickly to new locations.
The full-day experience starts from around 6am when the chimpanzees first get up, and lasts until around 7pm when they build new nests and settle down for the night. Throughout the day you see them carry out their day-to-day activities: feeding, hunting, patrolling the area, Chimpanzee Trekking Experience in Uganda, resting, and caring for the young ones.
A habituation experience is the best way to get incredible photographs of the chimps. It also allows you to get close enough to identify individuals by their distinct markings and personalities and learn more about their group dynamic.
How much is Chimpanzee Tracking and habituation in Uganda?
A Chimpanzee Habituation Permit is $250 and Chips trekking is $200 and includes the park entrance fees plus your guide. Since your park entrance fee is included. You can include other activities that day, such as the one-of-a-kind Nocturnal Forest Walk where you encounter the creatures of the night. Something not to be missed at Kibale Forest.
Other places in Uganda where chimpanzee trekking can be carried out include Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary which is part of the Koome group of islands located in Lake Victoria (which also includes Kiimi, Nsazi, Koome, Bulago and Damba Islands). Ngamba Island is approximately 23 km south-east of Entebbe.
Any chimpanzee trip can be organised by any of your local tour operator and can be carried out all the time in the year. This can be combined with gorilla trekking safaris or any other wildlife and birding safaris while in Uganda.
Safaris that include chimpanzee trekking in Uganda include: