Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda is amazingly the most dramatic primate experience that lets you enjoy a close encounter with habituated chimpanzees while in their natural environment. Tracking chimpanzees is one of the major highlights of most Uganda safari adventures. Chimp tracking takes tourists through a trek via the tall, primeval trees, tangled scrubs while in search of chimpanzees. This is exceptionally dramatic leave aside the usual game drives in the savannas.
Uganda is a host to all 5600 chimpanzees making it a distinct primate destination for chimpanzee tracking. Chimpanzees are unique and dramatic Apes, noted to share 98.4% of their DNA with human beings. A gaze into the eyes of chimpanzees offers deep insight into how close we humans to these unique primates.
Here are the 5 best places to go chimpanzee tracking in Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park (KFNP) is by far one of the best places to go chimpanzee tracking in Uganda. Chimp tracking in Kibale National Park is all about an on-foot walk in the tropical forest to observe chimpanzees in their natural environment. About 13 primate species are all thriving within Kibale National Park including 1500 chimpanzees and currently, 5 communities have successfully undergone habituation.
Tracking chimpanzees in Kibale N/Park starts from the Kanyanchu community and each day, there are 2 sessions; the morning & afternoons. A typical chimpanzees trekking adventure Kibale takes 2-4 hours with an absolute 1 hour guaranteed to spend face to face observing chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee tracking permits for Kibale National Park. The permits are a must-have in order for you to go track to see chimpanzees. The permits cost USD200 per person for a day for foreign nonresidents, USD150 foreign residents, and UGX150000 per person per trek for East Africa Community citizens.
Kyambura Gorge is featured among the top best places to go chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda. The dubbed Valley of the Apes is a 300ft deep gorge lying on the extreme Eastern side of Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). The deep gorge also shelters a diversity of other primates including black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed, vervet, olive baboons, and also important forest birds. The Kyambura Gorge-Uganda permits are available for reservation at USD50 applying for both foreign and foreign non-residents then 30000 UGX for Nationals in East Africa.
Budongo Forest is a splendid rainforest in Northwestern Uganda, Murchison Falls National Park. The forest reserve features 2 magical eco-tourism sites that provide exceptional chimpanzee tracking experiences and they include Kaniyo-Pabidi and Busingiro. Kaniyo-Pabidi Forest is just on main route to Murchison Falls and forms part of the larger Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA). Busingiro hosts the Royal Mile, one of Uganda’s iconic birding spots.
Up to 800 chimpanzees all reside within Budongo Forest, 100 of which have been fully habituated and open for trekking in the lush 825sq.kms rainforest-Budongo. Budongo chimp permits cost for all visitors USD85 per permit per trek in Kaniyo-Pabidi.
Kalinzu Forest is one of the very few natural forests sheltering 410 bird species, 300 chimpanzees and 70 of these have been habituated for chimpanzee tracking. Chimp treks in Kalinzu can be combined with variety of exciting activities at Queen Elizabeth N/Park the only site in Uganda to find tree climbing lions.
Semuliki Wildlife Reserve
Semuliki isn’t only known for birding or for its Sempaya Hot Springs but also for chimp trekking. The reserve is blessed with 3 chimp communities which Uganda safari travelers can have a chance to explore.
When to visit?
Uganda enjoys favorable weather conditions all year round making it an all-year-round chimpanzee tracking destination. But, the best time to experience most of Uganda’s chimpanzee trekking adventure is during the dry season. The 2 phases of drier seasons experienced from most of the chimpanzee destinations in Uganda start from June to August and December to February.
The dry seasons/months are the best months when parks or other sites where chimpanzees live and trekked record the lowest rainfall amount. The ground is kept drier and it is one reason it is a favorite period for chimpanzee trekking.
This isn’t the case with wetter months of March, April, May, and October, November when heavy rains occur in Kibale or other chimpanzee tracking destinations. These months are often avoided by some trekkers and a low number of visitors travel for chimp trekking.
What to pack for chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda?
Whether you plan to visit Kibale Forest NP, Kyambura Gorge, Budongo, or Kalinzu Forest Reserve for chimpanzee tracking, packing right is essential. Not anything should be carried but choose from essentials such as gardening gloves, cameras without flashlights, long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, daypack, chimpanzee permits, medical/first aid kit, waterproof hiking boots, sweater, valid passport, sunscreen, rain jacket/poncho, visas, snacks, bottled water, and others.
Regulations/Rules or Guidelines for chimpanzee trekking/tracking in Uganda
- Children 12 years below won’t be let go track chimpanzees in the jungles-they can easily be frightened.
- A distance of 8-10m is a must to observe away from chimpanzees during the 1 hour of face-to-face or while on search.
- Never be tempted to touch chimps, regardless of a fact that they get close to you or rub their bodies against you-don’t touch.
- Use only cameras with no flashlight to shoot pictures of chimp troop-flashlight cameras often get chimps scared or charge against you.
- Only trekkers with valid chimp permits get a chance to track a troop of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Budongo or Kyambura Gorge.
- Don’t go track chimp troop/community when sick or ill-chimpanzees are human closest relatives and they are susceptible to human infectious diseases as they share 98% of their DNA with human beings.
- Always keep low your voices when searching for the chimpanzee community.
- Keep within a group you are trekking/searching chimpanzees with-don’t go off track.
- Stay calm if in any case a chimpanzee charges or gets irritated because of your presence and observe all instructions accorded by your guide.
Access to Chimps Trekking Destinations in Uganda
Kibale National Park is about 6 hours drive from Entebbe International Airport and can be accessed by any vehicle because the road is in good condition, This is the same as Budongo forest reserve and Karinzu.
However, access to some chimpanzee destinations such and Kyambura gorge, and Semulik require a strong 4×4 vehicle, especially during rainy seasons. Contact 4×4 Uganda for a suitable 4×4 car for your self-drive road trip in Uganda.