There are 21 countries in Africa where chimpanzees can be seen and Uganda is one of them with the highest number of chimpanzees in East Africa. Tracking the chimpanzee is simply magical and interesting. There are only 4,950 chimpanzees left in the Uganda and conserved in the zoos, sanctuaries and a few remaining rain forests. 98.4% of sub-counties in Uganda have more people than all the Chimpanzees in Uganda. The way they feed, climb trees, respond to humans, caring for their young ones, is just phenomenal. Be part of the drama of life in a rain forest that can be observed in the Kibale National Park.
This park is home to a remarkable 13 primate species, including the Chimpanzees, localised red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkey. You can also be part of the habituation team that goes in the morning to study the behaviour of this primate in order to make them get used to human beings. You can also track the chimpanzees in Queen Elizabeth National Park at Kyambura Gorge, Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary where orphaned chimpanzees have been habituated, Murchison Falls National Park at Rabongo Forest and Budongo forest reserves.
Apart from the chimpanzees, Uganda offer great opportunities to track the rare and endangered mountain gorillas from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Uganda is also a home to a number of other primates including the black and white monkeys, red colobus monkey, Blue and red-tailed monkeys, the Grey-Cheeked Mangabeys, the Rare Golden Monkey and the Olive baboon. These can be seen from nearly all national parks and tropical rainforests found in Uganda.
Where to Do Chimpanzee Tracking
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is done in five main areas gazette by Uganda Wildlife Authority including Kibale National park, Budongo forest, Kyambura gorge, Kalinzu and Toro Semuliki game reserve.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National park
Kibale National park is situated in western Uganda covering an area of 795 square kilometers, a major destination for chimpanzee trekking and habituation in Uganda. Kibale National park is home to over 1500 chimpanzees habituated for trekking, more other 12 monkey species including black and white colubus, red tailed monkeys, blue tailed monkeys, mangabeys, vervet monkeys, grey cheeked monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys among others, bird species, wild animals and so on.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National park all starts with briefing at the park headquarters by the game rangers about the dos and don’ts before trekking, head out to the forest in search for the chimpanzees in their natural habitats for a couple of hours because the chimpanzees move lot and their time is not estimated then return to your lodge for the next activity.
Chimpanzee trekking allows only 6 members per group and to by persons who are 15 years and above for a maximum of 1 hour on meeting them. Kibale National park also offers chances for chimpanzee habituation where chimpanzees are trained to be familiar to human beings and preparing them for trekking. Chimpanzee habituation allows visitors to stay in the presence of chimpanzees for the whole day compared to trekking.
The chimpanzee trekking permit costs 150 US dollars currently but likely to increase to 200 US dollars by 1st July this year. The habituation permit costs 200 US dollars all obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest reserve.
Budongo forest is located in north western Uganda in Murchison Falls. Budongo forest being the largest natural forest in East Africa covering an area of 793 square kilometers it is home to different primate species, birds, butterflies, shrubs, trees with the most mahogany trees in Uganda and East Africa etc including the chimpanzees, the forest has over 600 chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking starts with briefing about tracking then move into the forest following trekking trails with the game rangers, chimpanzee trekking may take 2-4 hours depending on the movements of the chimpanzees in their natural habitats, they may be far or near because they tend to move looking for what to eat. Utilize 1 hour for observation and photography when you meet the chimpanzees and return back.
The trekking permit for Budongo forest reserve costs 80 US dollars per person and can be obtained from Budongo Eco lodge which is in charge of chimpanzee trekking, however there is also chimpanzee habituation in Budongo forest reserve which allows visitors to spend the whole day with the chimpanzee.
Chimpanzee trekking Budongo forest is done 2 times, in the morning at 7 am and in the afternoon all guided by game rangers, so visitors are allowed to go trekking at any time of the day.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge
Kyambura game reserve is located in Queen Elizabeth National park on the north east side of the park 30km from the park headquarters. Kyambura gorge is another popular destination for chimpanzee trekking more so for visitors who visit Queen Elizabeth for game viewing.
Kyambura gorge is home to over 13 primate species including chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, black and white among others, wild animals like lions, antelopes etc.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura game reserve costs 50 US dollars per person and permits are obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest
Kalinzu forest is found in Bushenyi district close to Queen Elizabeth National park in western Uganda. Kalinzu forest reserve is home to a number of chimpanzees and 50 habituated chimpanzees which are being trekked by visitors who come to Uganda. Kalinzu forest reserve is also known to shelter other primates like black and white colubus, red-tailed monkeys, baboons, blue monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, bush babies and butterfly species which are only found here and not anywhere in the world.
For visitors trekking in Kalinzu forest reserve they are advised to sleep in Queen Elizabeth National park because currently Kalinzu forest does not have any accommodations.
Chimpanzee trekking permit for Kalinzu forest reserve is 40 US dollars per person and very friendly for budget travellers. Trekking is allowed to people who are 12 years and above.
Chimpanzee trekking in Toro Semuliki
Toro Semuliki in western Uganda close to Semuliki National park in Bundibugyo district is also well known destination for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda. Toro Semuliki between Ntoroko and Kabarole districts is home to chimpanzees, bird species, wild animals among others. Chimpanzee trekking in Toro Semuliki reserve is done in the morning guided by the ranger guides following the trekking trails. Toro Semuliki reserve also offers experiences of birding to birds since it also inhabits many bird species.
The chimpanzee trekking permit costs 30 US dollars per person, chimpanzee trekking is allowed to people who are above the age of 15.