Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda, Kibale Safaris

Chimpanzee Safari Uganda, Kibale Chimp Tracking

Primates walk (Chimpanzee tracking)

The most favourite of Kibale’s walks embarks on from the Kanyanchu Visitor center at 08.00 & 15.00 and lasts 2 to 3 hours. Chimpanzee are the most sought after primate by visitors, but you should look out for the black & white colobus, red tailed monkey or the grey cheeked mangabey. Your guides will be able to show you pittas & different bird species and will give details of the tradit of the plant species within the forest. This walk is for 6 people in a group. Advance booking is all-important especially during peak sea.

chimpanzee kibale

 

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzee trekking is one of the best activities that is sought after by many tourists who come to Uganda. Just like gorilla trekking, it involves trekking through the forest in search of the chimpanzees that keep on swinging from one tree to the next. Trekking might take a few hours or less but once you get to the chimpanzees, every group gets to spend an hour with them before trekking back to the camp.

There are several chimpanzee destinations in Uganda and each one of these has a group of chimpanzees that you can trek. Chimpanzee trekking is mainly done in the Kibale Forest National Park and other destinations where you can go for the chimpanzee trek include the Budongo forest which is found in the Murchison Falls National park, Kyambura gorge in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki wildlife reserve, and Kalinzu forest found in Busenyi.

Chimpanzee trekking starts very early in the morning and every trek begins with the tour guides giving tourists the guidelines and rules that need to be followed. While trekking, you will be able to see other primates and wildlife like the red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, a variety of bird species among others.

Chimpanzee trekking permit

A chimpanzee trekking permit is a legal document that will give you access to the chimpanzees. They are processed by the Uganda wildlife Authority and they still remain the property of the Republic of Uganda even after being issued to you. Just like the trekking permit for gorillas, limited permits are printed per day and these are only valid for the date that they have been printed. The reason as to why few permits are printed is to try as much as possible to reduce the interaction between the chimpanzees and humans to conserve them. The chimps are prone to diseases and that is why interaction is limited.

The best way for one to get a chimpanzee trek permit is by booking through a trusted tour operator. Local tour operators know more about the process of booking and other related costs so it is better to let them take up the planning process. The tour operators will book the permit at the Uganda wildlife Authority and once payment is done, a scanned copy will be sent out to you via email with details on when you are to trek, the time, your name, passport details, and the unique serial number that makes it unique from the rest. Note that these permits cannot be interchanged and it is also hard for you to get a refund if you do not make it.

Cost of the chimpanzee trekking permit

The cost of a Chimpanzee trekking permit in Uganda varies according to the season. There are two seasons that are the peak season (the dry season) and the low season (the wet season) and they both see a variety of tourists come for chimpanzee trekking.  During the peak/high season, a chimpanzee trek permit goes for $1500 per day per person and during the low season, the cost of the permit can go as low as $100 per person per day in Kibaale forest National Park. The cost of a chimpanzee permit in Budongo goes for $90 during both the peak and low season and in the Kyambura gorge, the permit goes for $50.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park

Located in the south western part of the country, Kibale National Park has quite a large number of chimpanzees with about 1500 chimpanzees 120 of which are habituated. The chimpanzees here can easily be located due to their high number and the trekking is done twice a day that is in the morning and in the afternoon. A chimpanzee trek permit in Kibaale goes for $1500 during the peak season and $100 during the low season. Chimpanzee habituation is also done at the Kibale National park and this is where visitors get to spend more time with the primates for example 6 hours or the whole day.

The park is ranked to be the best destination for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda and besides meeting the chimpanzees, you will also get to see other primates including the different types of monkeys like the colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, a wide variety of bird species (400) and other wildlife.

There are several places where you can stay when you go for chimpanzee tracking in the Kibale National Park and these include the Primate Lodge, the Kyaninga lodge,

The most favorite activity in the park is the Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda. Starts from Kanyanchu Visitor Center at 08.00 & ends at 15.00 and lasts 2-3 hours. The Primates are searched down by visitors during the tracking. These include black & white Colobus, grey cheeked Mangabey, red tailed monkey. Your guides will show you pittas along with other bird species & will explain the tradit of different plant species within the forest. This walk is for 6 individuals per tour group. Advance booking is all-important during peak sea:

Chimpanzee trekking in the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee sanctuary

Ngamba Island found along Lake Victoria and easily accessed by a speedboat from Entebbe is one of the places where you can enjoy chimpanzee trekking while in Uganda. Set up by Goodall to conserve the primates, the Island part where the chimpanzees are kept is fenced off in order to allow the chimps to roam freely without causing damage to the neighbours. The speedboat that goes to Ngamba has two shifts with a half trip starting in the morning and a full one starting at 5pm.

The cost of visiting the island depends on the number of people in the group . the smaller the group, the higher the cost and the bigger the group, the lower the cost. Children from 5 to 15 years always pay half the price before gaining entry to the sanctuary.

The sanctuary started with about 13 chimpanzees that were rescued by a few locals and Dr. Jane Goodall and ever since the number of chimpanzees has grown to over 50 chimpanzees that have either been rescued or orphaned. You get to see the chimpanzees at different stages, get in close contact with them and also carry out other activities like fishing, swimming, exploring the villages, and birding.

Chimpanzee trekking in the Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park is a home to numerous forests and these are the Budongo forest, the Kaniyo Pabidi and the Rabongo forest where the chimpanzee trekking takes place. These three forests have over 600 chimpanzees making Murchison a good destination for chimpanzee trekking. Murchison National Park is a home to over 500 bird species, wildlife and is a top destination for many tourists who come to Uganda for safaris. The best time for chimpanzee trekking is from October to January because it is easier to see the chimpanzees as they hunt for food. Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison is done twice a day with the first one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

  • The Rabongo forest, this is also a forest found within the Murchison and where trekking is carried out. There are no clear trek routes but with the help of a tour guide, you will be able to set out within the forest in search of the chimpanzees which when found, you will get an hour with them. The Rabongo forest however has fewer chimpanzee families as compared to the Budongo forest.
  • Budongo forest, Budongo forest is a top destination for chimpanzee trekking and has a large number of primates. With the help of a tour guide, trekking will be easy and you get to see other primates like monkeys, the olive baboons, and red-tailed monkeys, and do birding among other activities.
  • Kaniyo Pabidi forest, a home to chimpanzees, a wide range of bird species, insects, and other primates, the forest is one of the few in the country that has remained in its natural state without any tampering from humans.

Accommodation in Murchison falls National Park is divided into three sections that is the Para and Victoria Nile, Albert Nile and the Kaniyo Pabidi. There are Luxurious, Mid-range, and Budget accommodation facilities and you can choose from these with your tour operator to see what works for you best.

Chimpanzee trekking in the Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National park is one of the best National Parks that is sought after by many tourists with about 17 chimpanzees available. Chimpanzee trekking here is done in the Kyambura game reserve also known as the Kyambura gorge. The activity is best done in the mornings and it takes about 1 to 2 hours. You will be escorted by experienced tour guides and after the trek, you can as well enjoy a game drive around the National Park. Some of the lodges that you can check out while in Kyambura include the Kyambura gorge safari lodge, KingFisher camp, Mweya safari lodge, jacana lodge and Katara lodge among others.

What to pack for a chimp trek in Uganda.

No one wants to carry excess luggage while on a safari because this can make it hard for you to enjoy the safari with the extra luggage being carried around. You need to make sure that you carry what is considered essential when it comes to chimpanzee trekking and these include the following:

  • Insect repellent
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Long-sleeved shirts and trousers to avoid scratches on your body.
  • A walking stick to ease trekking
  • Camera and binoculars
  • A small backpack to carry a few essentials like cameras and extra batteries while trekking.
  • A sun hat and sunscreen.

Trekking rules and regulations

There are rules and guidelines that you need to follow in order to have a good chimp trekking experience. These were set up by the Uganda wildlife Authority to protect both the primates and the visitors. Some of the regulations that you must follow include the following:

  • You are not allowed to trek in case you feel sick, especially with flu and cough
  • You are to keep a distance of 8 meters between you and the chimps
  • You should always follow all the guidelines that are given to you by the tour guides
  • No one is allowed to feed the chimps
  • Visitors are not allowed to eat or drink near the chimpanzees.
  • Do not urinate and poop in the park as this might cause the animals to fall sick. In case you want to poop, you must dig a hole of about 30cm deep and after that bury everything including the toilet paper.
  • The minimum age for chimp trekking in Uganda is 15 years.
  • The only people who can help you gain access to the Park for trekking are the tour guides
  • Make sure that the camera you are using does not have a flashlight
  • Do not make noise while trekking because this irritates the chimps and they end up migrating to another place.

Chimpanzee habituation

Chimpanzee habituation involves spending a few hours with the chimpanzees in close range. Chimp habituation refers to the process in which the chimps are trained so that they are used to human presence at all times even during tracking. Chimpanzee habituation takes quite a long time before it is actualized which is about 2 to 3 years and in Uganda, this has been achieved in the Kibaale National Park. After 3 years of training, the habituated chimps are let out so that they can start interacting with the humans.

Chimpanzee habituation has a special permit which costs about $150 for foreign residents, $70 for East African citizens and $220 for non-foreign residents. The permits need to be booked in advance so that you get to enjoy your habituation experience.

Chimp trekking VS Gorilla trekking

Chimpanzee trekking is on the rise and a favourite for tourists. Carried out in different destinations that is the Kibaale National park, Budongo and Queen Elizabeth National Park, tracking chimpanzees is one activity that you will want to try out while in Uganda. A chimpanzee trekking permit goes for $150 and during the low season it can go to as low as $100 per person per day. While trekking, you get to spend an hour with the primates observing them as they play, swing from tree to the next and go about their daily activities.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is carried out in the Bwindi Impenetrable national park and the Mgahinga National Park. Gorilla trekking has its own rules and regulations that you must follow like keeping a distance from the primates, no feeding them and no using cameras with flashlights just to mention but a few. You also get to spend an hour with the gorillas and this is done with the help of the tour guides. A gorilla permit is on the high end as compared to the chimpanzee trek permit going for $1500 per person per day.

Chimpanzee trekking Vs. Chimpanzee habituation

During Chimpanzee habituation tourists get to spend more time with the primates as they are given about 6 hours to spend with the primates and some get to spend the whole day with the chimps. Uganda is known to be a good place to enjoy chimp habituation and tracking at the same time. As you compare chimp trekking and habituation, the first thing that you should put into consideration is the amount of time spent with the chimpanzees.

Chimp trekking normally involves trekking around the National Park until you get to see the chimpanzees and this can take 2 to 3 hours. Each group gets to spend at least an hour with the chimps after trekking. However, during chimpanzee habituation, tourists get to spend at least 6 hours and sometimes the whole day with the chimpanzees. While chimpanzee trekking permits cost $150, chimpanzee habituation permits cost $150.

What you need to know about chimpanzees

Chimpanzees are believed to have the closest DNA to humans with 98%. They are known to be extremely playful and keep on moving from one place to the next but note that they can as well become aggressive once they are provoked. Adult chimpanzees weigh differently depending on the sex that is an average adult female chimpanzee can weigh between 30 to 50kgs at a height of 2 t0 4 feet whereas a male adult chimpanzee weighs between 35 to 75 kgs at a height of 3 meters.

Chimpanzees relatively stay in groups of 10 to 100 with one dominant male as the leader. With their high intelligence, they can easily take care of each other like humans, hold hands, search for food, and care for the young ones. When a baby chimpanzee turns 4 years, they tend to become independent and start looking for their own food.

A chimpanzee living in the wild can live up to 40 years and those that are kept in zoos can live up to 60 years. Chimpanzees are very sociable, can easily and effectively communicate with each other, and search for food, build their own nests and these skills are passed down from one chimpanzee to the next. Chimpanzees are known to spend most of their time on the ground but when it comes to feeding and sleeping, this is done way up in the trees.

The government together with assistance from the Goodall Foundation are trying their best to conserve the life of the chimpanzees by putting up heavy sanctions on whoever is found poaching or hurting the Chimpanzees.

Behavioural patterns for chimpanzees

The chimpanzees normally live on the ground level, they spend most of their time up in the trees, especially at night and when feeding. They are known to be swift at climbing trees and they use both their hands and toes to make it easier and faster. While on the ground, they use both their hands and toes for walking with half-flexed fingers due to their huge weight. They normally live in groups and migrate in groups as well. There is always only one dominant male and if another male wants to take over, they have to fight for the position.

What do chimpanzees feed on?

Chimpanzees feed on mainly fruits and leaves. They however feed on only ripe fruits which they keep on gathering very early in the morning. They also feed on flowers and bugs and fresh meat. Chimpanzees use different tools to gather their food and while looking o=for insects, they use twig trees to poke into anthills and sometimes check under the stones for hidden bugs. After chewing the leaves, they use them to clean themselves and dip the leaves into the water for drinking.

Where else can I go for chimpanzee trekking?

Besides chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, you can as well enjoy chimp trekking in the neighbouring countries of Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. Chimpanzee trekking in DRC can be done in the Virunga National Park, Gombe and Mahale in Tanzania and in Rwanda, chimpanzee trekking is best done in the Nyungwe forest National Park.

How difficult is chimpanzee trekking in Uganda?

It is not so difficult to take part in chimpanzee trekking because the trekking is normally done following the flat trails in the forests. Since chimpanzees live at relatively low altitudes, this makes it easy to go for trekking unlike when going for gorilla trekking. Note that during the wet season, it becomes extremely hard due to the slippery nature of the trails.

What is the best time to see chimpanzees in Uganda?

Chimpanzee trekking can be carried out all year round however the best time to chimp trek is during the dry season which is experienced between the months of June to September and December to January. This is also known as the peak season due to the fact that there are many tourists who come for chimpanzee trekking in the country. During the dry season, the trek trails are passable and it is also easier to see the chimpanzees during the dry season unlike during the rainy season when the roads become slippery and the vegetation is dense. Chimpanzee trekking can also be done during the wet season due to the presence of plenty of food for the chimpanzees making it easy for them to be spotted.

Chimpanzees as well as humans share over 98 percent of their DNA.

However these being wild animals, chances of spotting these chimps are not always guaranteed although they are over 95% within the Kibale Forest, hence making it the most perfect destination in the whole of East Africa for chimpanzee tracking.

 

It is in addition probable to take part in the fascinating habituation experience, meaning that you can actuallty get a chance to spend the entire day with this impressive creatures.

 

However, because the  number of chimpanzee  trekking permits for each day is restricted, you are greatly advised to book in advance to your safari date.

 

Normally lunch boxes may be offered to the trekkers that are taking part in the habituation process sinc it requires the entire day.

Important to Note is that 15 years is the minimum age allowed to take part in the chimpanzee tracking experience

 

What to carry along

Wear shoes that have a good grip, suitable for climbing steep moist muddy slopes

A number of people actually feel more at ease when wearing clothes that are long sleeved as this will protect them from the pricking thickets as they move through the verdant jungle

Do not forget a rain gear, since the weather here is highly unpredictable

Bring enough drinking water plus snacks to bite on

Carry a pair of binoculars

If taking photos, keep in mind that your subjects are actually black animals living within dim light, so camera flashes is strictly not permitted. Better to have a fast film (of 400 – 800 ASA) or even utilize the settings on your camera.

About Chimpanzees

The average weight of an adult well grown male chimpanzee is between 35 and 70 kilograms, with a height of approximately 3 meters whereas tan adult female chimpanzee weighs between 26 and 50 kilograms and a height between 2 and 4 feet.

A chimpanzee’s life expectancy is at 40 years whereas that for those living in captivity can extend up to 60 years.

In Uganda today, Efforts to actually conserve the chimpanzees are extensively acknowledged and well supported.  Actually The Jane Goodall Foundation has played a major role in the overall conservation of not only these Chimpanzees but the Gorillas as well found in Uganda. By going for chimpanzee tracking, you directly contribute to the conservation efforts.

Chimpanzees are the closest relatives to humans sharing about 98% of their DNA composition with humans.  They are Sociable, intelligent as well as communicative and among their very fascinating traits is the ability to utilize tools like rocks for crushing nuts, empty pods for hollowing out water plus sticks for capturing termites from their holes. These skills are for long been passed on from generation to another and researchers say that different troops have specialist tasks, basing on their habitat as well as diet.

Chimps stay in groups of 10 – 100 members. They can babysit each other’s young, kiss, groom one another and even hold hands. The young chimps become independent at the age of 4 year. Nonetheless, chimps can be aggressive and unsociable, mainly if disturbed.

Although they spend some time on ground, they normally feed and do make their sleeping nests up in the trees. Their diet varies comprising of leaves, seeds, fruit plus flowers.

About Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience,this is a lifetime experience that allows accompany Kibale’s researchers and habituation at chimpanzee during their daily activities, thereby getting used to human presence without changing their natural. During your tour, expect coming across the chimps de-nesting (in their nocturnal nests) between 05.30 to 06.30, before them throughout the day till they make new nests and the night around 19.00. The Habituation Experience by tourist for low season months of March, April, May and November

Other parks Where to See the Primates in Africa

Nyungwe Forest National Park
Bwindi Forest Gorillas
Rwanda Gorillas