Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda

Chimpanzee habituation in Uganda is an experience of a lifetime that no tourist should miss out on when on safari in the country. Chimpanzee habituation experience is filled with adventure and lots of exciting memories to take back home with you.

It is one thing to spend an hour with the chimpanzees of Uganda, and another experience to spend the entire day with these amazing creatures. Most tourists do not actually realize that they have a choice between chimpanzee trekking and a chimpanzee habituation experience.  The two are totally different.

There are about 4950 chimpanzees in Uganda, with an estimated total of 1500 chimpanzees in Kibale Forest alone. In Uganda, tourists can partake in chimpanzee habituation experience in only two designated locations, and that is Kibale Forest and Budongo Forest. However, chimpanzee habituation also takes place on Ngamba Island, which has a Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Chimpanzee habituation experience involves getting the chimpanzees used to the presence of humans, a process that can take up to two years. Visitors on a chimpanzee habituation experience in Uganda spend an entire day in the presence of chimpanzees; tracking them, monitoring their behaviors and feeding patterns while in their natural habitat.

The chimpanzee habituation experience in Uganda requires one to be both physically and mentally ready for the challenge. The activity begins early in the morning before the break of dawn, around 6:00am or 6:30am. This means that visitors need to have their breakfast really early and pack lunch before heading out into the forest.

Just like a chimpanzee and gorilla trekking activities begin with a briefing; likewise, all chimpanzee habituation experience activities commence with tourists being briefed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority head ranger at Kibale national park. You will be met by your guide, briefed and later head out into the forest before dawn breaks.

Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda
Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee habituation experience involves tracking recent activity of the chimpanzees and where they built their nests the night before. While on the chimpanzee habituation experience, tourists get to learn to identify the chimpanzees individually by their makings, scars and other unique features that make them stand out from the rest. 

In Uganda, the chimpanzee habituation experience takes place in groups. A small group can have a maximum of 6 people (an UWA ranger, guide and 4 tourists), while a large group can have a maximum of 8 people (UWA guide and ranger, plus 6 tourists.)

At the end of the day (around 7 pm), the chimpanzees climb back into their newly built nests for the evening and visitors head back to their lodges for the evening. This usually marks the end of the amazing chimpanzee habituation experience for most visitors, with lots of pictures to take home, as memories of an awesome chimpanzee habituation safari in Uganda.

Chimpanzee habituation Experience in Budongo Forest.

Budongo forest in Murchison falls national park is another place where tourists can go chimpanzee tracking while on a safari in Uganda. However, chimpanzee habituation experience is offered here during the low/offseasons, when there is less tourist congestion in the forest. Both chimpanzee habituation and tracking experience in Budongo Forest is offered by a private organization known as the Jane Goodall Institute for Research.

Chimpanzee habituation in Budongo forest started in 1992 with the sole aim of making the chimpanzees get familiar to human beings, by riding the primates of the fear they have for humans. The fear that chimpanzees have and might still have for human beings arose due to the continuous poaching of the species, especially during the past years. People hunted down chimpanzees for their bushmeat which was then sold off in the black market. However, thanks to ongoing conservation and chimpanzee rehabilitation programs, the once-endangered primates are being protected from such external threats, which in turn has seen their numbers grow tremendously. 

Chimpanzee habituation experience, as well as tracking in Budongo forest, is only available for tourist who are aged 15 years and about. This activity is strictly limited to the said age groups because it involves a lot of vigorous hiking and tracking activities that are not suitable for children. In addition to this, there is no telling just how the chimpanzees will react towards the presence of humans in their midst, therefore making it a risky activity for children to engage in.

Chimpanzees in Budongo Forest can sometimes be found roaming around Budongo-eco Lodge, which can be an exciting moment for tourists staying at the lodge. Chimpanzee habituation in Budongo Forest can be done at a price of USD 160 dollars per person.

Tourists who wish to see chimpanzees in Budongo forest will have to travel about 237km from Kampala, which is approximately a 4 hours’ drive. Alternatively, most visitors can visit Budongo forest after a safari to Murchison falls national park. The forest is located in the south-eastern part of Murchison Falls National Park, and will take one 1½ hours of driving to get to Budongo forest.

Travelers can access Budongo forest from the Kichimbanyobo gate, located in the southern part of the national park. It is from this point that visitors will have to drive 8km till the forest headquarters, which are near Budongo-Eco Lodge.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Kibale Forest.

Tourist a second option of doing Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale forest, located in the southwestern part of Uganda. Chimpanzee habituation experience and tracking in Kibale Forest is offered by Kibale National Park, which is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale Forest takes 6 hours and tourists are placed in groups with a maximum of 6 people, accompanied by an armed UWA ranger and experienced guide, who can easily track and located the chimpanzees.

During the chimp habituation experience in kibale forest, visitors can get a chance to see other wildlife inhabiting the forest including 13 primate species and mammals, such as; black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, buffalos, warthogs, bush pigs and elephants among others. Visitors can also get to see over 350 bird species that live in the forest like; the olive long-tailed cuckoo, the ground thrush and the grey parrot to mention but a few.

Tourists doing chimpanzee habituation in Kibale Forest will have to first sign in at the visitor center in Kibale National Park. You will then be briefed by the head ranger at the park and later head out to the forest.

Tourist will have to travel about 308km from Kampala City to get to Kibale National Park. This journey will take you about 4-5 hours of driving on the road.

How Much Does Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda Cost?

Tourists willing to do chimpanzee habituation in Uganda will have to pay $200 dollars per person for both foreign non-residents and foreign residents and UGX 150,000 shillings for East African citizens. This cost applies for full day chimpanzee habituation experience in Kabale National Park.

Chimpanzee permits for half-day chimpanzee habituation experience in Kabale forest cost USD 100 dollars per person for both foreign non-residents as well as foreign residents, and UGX 75,000 shillings for East African citizens.

However, starting July 2020, those doing chimpanzee habituation in Kibale Forest, will pay $250 dollars per person for both foreign non-residents and foreign residents, and UGX 200,000 shillings per person for East African citizens.

 The above fees include UWA guide fees, as well as park entrance fees.

Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda
Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda

Best Time for Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Uganda.

The chimpanzee habituation experience in Uganda is best done in the months of March-May and also in November. During this time, there is less tourist activity in Kibale and Budongo forests, and therefore, visitors can get easily track the chimpanzees and get much closer to them.

What to carry during Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Uganda.

Visitors who plan on doing chimpanzee habituation in Uganda need to carry the following essentials with you;

  • Remember to carry a valid copy of your passport or ID, as you will be asked to present it at the park entrance gate and also Budongo Forest headquarters. 
  • Carry your Chimpanzee permit as well because you won’t be to do chimp habituation unless you have your permit with you.
  • Carry enough mineral water so as to always keep hydrated throughout the day.
  • Pack lunch and some snacks for the day.
  • A good pair of hiking shoes.
  • Long sleeved shirts and a long pair of trousers.
  • Sunscreen and Insect repellent to guard yourself against sunburns and insect bites.
  • Also, remember to bring along with you a flashlight and a camera as well.

Chimpanzee habituation experience in Uganda is such an amazing experience and visitors who are adventurous should not hesitate to include chimpanzee habituation to your tour itineraries. Take home with you wonderful memories of your visit to the Pearl of Africa.

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