Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda is actually a very fascinating experience done in the forests of Kibale, Budongo, Kalinzu, and other designated areas. Tourists who wish to see chimpanzees in Uganda will have to go to the following places, Kibale National Park, Kalinzu Forest, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Budongo Forest, and Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.

Uganda is by far the best chimpanzee trekking destination in Africa with an estimated number of chimpanzees totaling to over 4950 individuals. There are said to be approximately 1500 chimpanzees in Kibale Forest alone, thus making it a haven for chimpanzee trekking activities in Uganda.

Chimpanzee tracking activities in Uganda involve tourists hiking in forests, tracking chimpanzee footprints and locating where they made their nests the previous night in an attempt to locate chimpanzee families/ groups. This whole process can be a bit tiring for visitors and yet so rewarding once the chimps have been located.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park.

Tourists visiting Kibale National Park can go tracking chimpanzees in Kibale Forest. The national park, located in the southwestern part of Uganda, offers visitors both chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation experience.

Although Kibale Forest is richly blessed with various primate species, its main attraction are the chimpanzees. As earlier mentioned, there are 1500 chimpanzees in kibale forest alone and the majority of these chimps are habituated; thus meaning that they will not run away at the sight of tourists.

All primate walks, including chimpanzee trekking activities in Kibale national park, begin at the Kanyanchu Visitor Center. Tracking chimpanzees in Kibale forest has been going on since 1993 and therefore the chances of locating them are guaranteed.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Kibale National Park Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris

Chimpanzee trekking activities in Kibale National park start at exactly 8am, 11am and 2pm. Tourists tracking chimpanzees in kibale forest are always first briefed by the head ranger at the park. After briefing, visitors are then placed in small groups of a maximum of 6 members only; comprising an UWA ranger and guide, plus 4 visitors. Small tracking groups make tracking the chimpanzees a lot easier, and visitors can get much closer to the chimps.

In Kibale forest, chimpanzee tracking activities take between 2-5 hours and once the chimpanzees have been located, visitors are allowed to spend only an hour with them. During this period, visitors get to see how the chimpanzees socialize with each other, feed, and breastfeed their young ones as well as interact with human beings.

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda’s Kibale national park is strictly limited to visitors aged 16 years and above. The activity is strictly limited to the said age group because trekking chimpanzees involves a lot of hiking activities, which may prove to be too physically demanding for children. In addition to this, the behaviors of these chimpanzees can’t be predicted, this one can’t tell how these primates will behave around the children or vice versa. This restriction set by Uganda Wildlife Authority is so strict to the extent that visitors are asked to present their identification (birth certificated/ passport or residence ID), as proof of age.

There is also chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale national page and their visitors can get to spend the entire day with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Chimpanzees habituation activities begin at exactly 6am or 6:30pm and end at 7pm when the chimpanzees are returning to their nests.

Chimpanzee trekking permit in Kibale national park costs $200 dollars per person for foreign non-residents and US$100 for foreign residents, while East African citizens get to pay UGX 100,000 shillings per person. These fees are inclusive of park entry fees and UWA guide fees. Tourists who require the services of a porter will have to pay an extra fee.

However, with effect from 1st July 2020-2022, there will be an increase in the cost of Chimpanzee tracking permits in Kibale national park; US$200 dollars for foreign-non residents, US$150 dollars for foreign residents and UGX 150,000 shillings for East African citizens.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve.

Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu forest has picked up ground at a fast rate. This could be precise because the cost of tracking chimpanzees in Kalinzu is much cheaper than in Queen Elizabeth National Park or Kibale national park. Kalinzu central forest reserve is near Queen Elizabeth national park, located just 1 hour away from the national park.

The minimum age for chimpanzee trekking activities in Kalinzu is 12 years. This is a big advantage that the reserve has, aside from its cheap chimpanzee tracking permits. The cost of chimpanzee trekking permits in Kalinzu forest is US$30 dollars per person. However, the permit fees exclude park entrance fees. 

Tourists visiting Queen Elizabeth national park on a wildlife safari can easily connect to Kalinzu central forest reserve. Visitors who wish to do chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu can book their accommodation in Queen Elizabeth national park since there are no lodging facilities available in Kalinzu forest.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Chimpanzee tracking in Queen Elizabeth national park takes place in Kyambura Gorge. Tracking chimps in Kyambura gorge is an experience that involves more than discovering chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The activity is an educative one that involves teaching tourists about the ecosystems in Kyambura gorge such as; its rainforest, vegetation, bird species and other primate species like various species of monkeys.

Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura gorge and Queen Elizabeth take between 1-3 hours and begin at exactly 8am and 2pm every day. A chimpanzee tracking permit in Kyambura gorge costs USD50 dollars per person for both foreign non-residents and foreign residents; and UGX 30,000 shillings per person for East African citizens.

The cost of chimpanzee trekking permits in Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park is inclusive of guide fees and a nature walk, but excludes park entry fees. However, the chances of seeing chimpanzees in Kyambura gorge is 50-50 since the chimps tend to move farther deep into the forest.

Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth national park is very adventurous, thrilling and educating as visitors get an insight into the history of the gorge, the national park and its surrounding islands; especially the punishment island, where women along ago were banished to in case they got pregnant out of wedlock.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo Forest-Murchison Falls National Park.

Tourists can also do chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest, which is located near Murchison Falls national park. Chimpanzee tracking tours can be done by tourists after a game drive in Murchison falls national park. Budongo forest is situated just 1½ km from the national park, thus making it a suitable option for a short tour/safari for tourists after visiting the national park.

Budongo forest is characterized by a medium-altitude damp semi-deciduous, lush and ever-green forest that covers an estimated area of 825km². The forest is known for its former abundance of East African mahogany trees, as well as being home to a large population of chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo forest are offered by a private organization called the Jane Goodall Institute for Research in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority. The institution also offers tourists chimpanzee habituation experience during the low seasons because tourist activities in the national park are few, and hence there is less tourist congestion.

Permits for chimpanzee tracking in Budongo forest cost US$85 dollars per person; while chimpanzee habituation in the forest costs US$160 dollars per person. There are only 16 chimpanzee tracking permits that are issued by the institute on a daily basis.

Chimpanzee Trekking activities in the Budongo forest take place at 8am and 2pm. Tourists who visit Budongo forest have an 80% chance of seeing chimpanzees in the forest. However, tourists visiting the forest can also see other attractions existent in the forest like; bird species, butterfly species, and unique tree species.

Tracking Chimpanzees in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda can also be done in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. The reserve was first established in 1926 as a game reserve and covers a total area of 542km². 

Chimpanzee tracking in Toro-Semliki takes 3-4 hours and is conducted near Semliki safari Lodge. Tourists on a chimpanzee tracking safari at the wildlife reserve are always accompanied by an experienced UWA ranger and guide. 

During chimpanzee trekking activities in Toro-Semliki Wildlife reserve, tourists get to see other wildlife mammals like; red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, Baboons, waterbucks, buffaloes and elephants among others.

Chimpanzee tracking permits in Toro-Semliki wildlife reserve cost US$30 per person for both foreign non-residents and foreign residents; East African citizens get to pay UGX 20,000 per person. This fee includes UWA guide fees and a nature walk, although it excludes park entrance fees.

What to carry with you during Chimpanzee Tracking in Uganda.

Tourists tracking chimpanzees in Uganda need to carry the following items with you; good hiking shoes, a camera, light, dull-colored long sleeve shirt, long trousers, packed lunch/snacks and mineral water.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

Rules and Regulations to follow when Tracking Chimpanzees in Uganda.

The following rules and regulations of chimpanzee tracking in Uganda, are always given to tourists during their briefing, right before visitors being tracking activities. These include;

  • Keep a distance of about 8 km away from the chimpanzees
  • In case you have a flue or any cold-related disease, do not trek the chimpanzee as they may acquire human diseases so easily
  • Do not litter the park with waste products or disposables 
  • Avoid eating when you are near the chimpanzees because they might grab the food from you
  • Do not use the flash when taking photographs.
  • And finally, visitors are encouraged to wear long sleeved shirts, long trousers, and good hiking boots.

It is of great importance for visitors to adhere to the above rules and regulations, in order to have the best chimpanzee tracking experience in Uganda.

Therefore, tourists visiting Uganda and wish to track chimpanzees need to acquire their chimpanzee tracking permits in advance, at least 6 months before your day of travel. It is advisable for tourists to book their chimpanzee tracking permits through a trusted tour operator in Uganda. This makes the whole process of acquiring the chimpanzee trekking permits much easier and quicker.

Do get in touch with us for any inquiries you may have about this activity, and also get to book with us your chimpanzee tracking tour in Uganda.

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