Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest – Murchison Falls National Park
Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest is the top tourist activity done in this forest and is one of the tp tourist activities in Murchison Falls National Park. Budondo forest is located in the northwest part of Kampala City and lies within Murchison falls national park one of the largest and most visited national park in Uganda. Budondo is the largest mahogany forest in Uganda and East Africa covering a total land area of 825 square kilometers and is comprised of woodland and grassland forests. Budondo forest is a home of high numbers of chimpanzees which makes it one of the best destinations for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda. Apart from chimpanzees, Budongo forest is a habitat of over 360 bird species, 450 tree species, 250 butterflies, 130 moth species, mammal species among others.
Chimpanzee trekking is an interesting and adventurous activity where visitors above the age of fifteen years are allowed to move into the natural mahogany forest in search of the habituated chimpanzee families. Chimpanzee trekking is the most popular activity done in Budongo forest which gives visitors extraordinary experiences. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest is done in two sessions that is the morning session which starts at 7:00 am and the afternoon session which starts at 2:00 pm.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest starts with a briefing at the Budongo Eco lodge Information Centre and after the visitors will be grouped into 8 people depending on their physical fitness and interests. After the briefing visitors will start trekking in the forest together with the park guide who will be sharing information about the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest takes about 2 to 4 hours depending on the location of the chimpanzee families because they like to move from one place to another in search of food. One the chimpanzee family has been found, visitors are given one hour with the chimpanzees and during this hour visitors will view chimpanzees de-nesting, feeding, playing with each other, breastfeeding among others which gives them an opportunity to take plenty of photos and record the moments.
During chimpanzee trekking activity in Budongo forest you will be able to view other attractions such as red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, bird species like African emerald cuckoo, pigmy crake, little green sunbird, yellow-crested woodpecker, yellow spotted barbet, chestnut capped flycatcher, butterflies among others hence making your chimpanzee trekking activity enjoyable.
Cost of a chimpanzee trekking permit in Budongo Forest
A chimpanzee trekking permit in Budongo forest costs $85 per person and the permit should be booked in advance because there are only 16 available permits on a daily basis. A chimpanzee trekking permit in Budongo forest can either be acquired directly at the park headquarters booked through a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. A chimpanzee trekking permit in Budongo forest allows you to spend one hour with the chimpanzees and is valid for one day.
Best time for chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest can be done anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the wet season in the months of October to November and March to May. During the wet season, there is plenty of food for the chimpanzees to eat therefore they will easily be found during trekking and sometimes they can be found near the eco-lodge hence trekking will take a few hours. During the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February, there is less rainfall in the forest which leads to scarcity of food, therefore, the chimpanzees will move deep into the forest in search of food which makes trekking longer.
Other activities in Budongo Forest
Budongo forest offers other activities to visitors apart from chimpanzee trekking and they include
- Bird watching, Budongo forest is a home of over 360 bird species which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Uganda. Bird watching in Budongo forest is carried out in the forest at the royal mile and you will be able to view different bird species like a yellow-footed flycatcher, crowned eagle, white spotted flufftail, Ituri batis, slender-billed greenbul, yellow-footed flycatcher, chocolate backed kingfisher among others.
- Nature walk, this is an adventurous activity where visitors walk on foot with an armed ranger into the forest as they explore nature, fresh air, wildlife like tree species, primates, bird species, animals like buffaloes, elephants among others.
What to pack for your chimpanzee trekking activity in Budongo Forest
- Chimpanzee trekking permit, a chimpanzee trekking permit is an important item to pack for your chimpanzee trekking safari in Budongo forest in that without a permit you will not be allowed to trek the habituated chimpanzee family.
- Hiking shoes will help you to trek comfortably in the forest especially in the wet season when the trails are muddy and slippery.
- Garden gloves, the garden gloves will protect your hands from germs and thorny trees in the forest. However, the gloves can be removed while in front of the chimpanzees taking photos.
- Long sleeved shirt and trousers, the long sleeved clothes will protect you from thorny shrubs in the forest, safari insects and also give you warmth.
- Insect repellent will protect you from insect bites while trekking in the jungle such as tsetse flies, safari ants, mosquitos among others.
- Rain jacket, the rain jacket will protect you and your items from rain since it can rain any time of the day in the Budongo forest.
- Sunglasses, the sunglasses will protect you from strong sunshine especially during the dry season in the months of June to September and January to February.
- Energy snacks, chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest is unpredictable in that it can take a long period of time especially in the dry season when there is a scarcity of food in the forest, therefore, the energy snacks will give you the energy to continue trekking.
- Camera, the camera will be used to take plenty of photos during the one hour with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat and also record moments to show people at home after your safari.
- Binoculars, a pair of binoculars will be used to view far things like the bird species since Budongo forest is a home of different bird species.
- Backpack, a backpack will be used to carry your items for a chimpanzee trekking safari in Budongo forest such as insect repellent, camera, binoculars, packed snacks, chimpanzee trekking permit among others.
Rules and regulations for Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest
- Visitors who are not feeling well are advised not to engage in chimpanzee trekking activity because human diseases can easily be transmitted to the chimpanzees.
- Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest allows a maximum number of 8 people per chimpanzee group.
- When taking photos visitors should not use cameras with flash as it affects the chimpanzees
- Visitors are only limited to one hour in the presence of the chimpanzee group
- Visitors should maintain a distance of 8 meters away from the chimpanzees
- Visitors should not eat, drink or smoke while in the presence of the chimpanzees because some food particles might fall down and end up transmitting some disease to the chimpanzees
- You should be quiet while trekking and while in the presence of the chimpanzees so as not to distract them and make them uncomfortable.
- Do not torch the chimpanzees as they are wild animals
How to get to Budongo Forest
Budongo forest is located in the northwestern part of Kampala in Murchison falls national park and can be reached by either road or air transport means.
- Road transport, visitors going for chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest will drive from Kampala to Masindi and then to Budongo forest which takes 30 minutes from Masindi town and 3 hours’ drive from Kampala to Budongo forest.
- Air transport, when going to Budongo forest, you will book chartered flights from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Pakuba airstrip which takes about 1 hour and then connect to Budongo forest by road.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest can be combined with other activities in Murchison falls national park such as game drive, boat cruise among others hence giving you an opportunity to have breathtaking and lifetime experiences on your safari in Uganda.