Chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda
Chimpanzee trekking is a thrilling and interesting activity where visitors move into the forests in search of the habituated chimpanzee families and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Chimpanzee trekking is the second most popular activity in Uganda after gorilla trekking which is carried out in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. Uganda is a home to about 5000 chimpanzees which are distributed into different national parks and game reserves such as Kibale national park, Toro-Semuliki game reserve, Budongo forest in Murchison falls national park, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park and Kalinzu forest reserve in Bushenyi district.
Where to go for chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda
Kibale forest national park, the national park is located in western Uganda and is one of the chimpanzee trekking destinations in Uganda harboring the highest number of chimpanzees which are approximately to 1500 individuals. Kibale national park is known as a primate capital because it’s a home of 13 primate species including the chimpanzees, grey cheeked Mangabey, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, bush babies, pottos among others. Chimpanzee trekking in is done in two sessions that is the morning session which starts at 8:00am and the afternoon session which starts at 3:00pm. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park starts with a briefing at Kanyachu Information Centre where after the visitors are grouped into 6 people to trek each habituated chimpanzee family. After the briefing you will start trekking in the forest with a park guide who will be showing you the chimpanzee trails to follow and also sharing information about the endangered chimpanzees. Trekking takes about 2 to 3 hours in the jungle and once the chimpanzees have been found you will be able to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat taking photos, recording the moments, learning more about their life style, habits, behaviors among others.
Kibale national park also offers chimpanzee habituation experience to visitors who want to spend more time with the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation is the process where the chimpanzees are trained to get used to human presence, the process involves a team of researchers, guides, trackers among others. chimpanzee habituation experience is allows 4 visitors to participate in the activity and spend four hours with the chimpanzees under habituation compared to the one hour given during trekking.
Budongo forest, Budongo is a natural forest that is situated in the southern sector of Murchison falls national park which is the largest and most visited national park in Uganda. Budongo forest is the second best chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda after Kibale national park and chimpanzee trekking is done in two sessions the morning session which starts at 8:00am and the afternoon session which starts at 2:00pm at the park headquarters. Trekking in the forest takes about 2 to 3 hours or even longer depending on the location of the chimpanzees because they like to move deep into the forest in search of food especially during the dry season. Once the chimpanzees have been found you will spend one hour with them in their natural habitat taking photos with flash less cameras, recording the moments and learning about their behaviors, habits, watching them play up in the trees among others.
Kalinzu forest, Kalinzu is a natural forest reserve that is located in western Uganda in Bushenyi district close to Maramagambo forest and Queen Elizabeth national park. The forest reserve is also a home of chimpanzee which are visited either in the morning or the afternoon following trails in the forest. Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest takes about 2 to 3 hours and once the chimpanzees have been found you will spend one hour with them in their natural habitat.
Kyambura Gorge, Kyambura gorge is situated in Queen Elizabeth national park which is the second largest national park in Uganda. Kyambura gorge is also known as the valley of apes due to its abundant primate species including chimpanzees, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others.
Cost of a chimpanzee trekking permit in Uganda
A chimpanzee trekking permit is a document or card that is issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority to any visitor above the age of twelve years allowing him or her to visit the habituated chimpanzee family and spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Chimpanzee trekking permits in Uganda vary depending on the destination where you are going to trek chimpanzees from for example a chimpanzee trekking permit in Kibale forest national park costs $200 for foreign non-residents, $150 for foreign residents and UGX 150,000 for East African citizens, a chimpanzee habituation permit in Kibale national park costs $250 for both foreign non-residents and foreign residents and UGX 200,000 for East African citizens. In Kyambura gorge a chimpanzee habituation permit costs $50 for both foreign non-residents and foreign residents and UGX 30,000 for East African citizens, in Budongo forest a chimpanzee trekking permit costs $90 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents, in Kalinzu forest a chimpanzee trekking permit costs $50 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents and in Toro-Semuliki it costs $30 for foreign residents and UGX 20,000 for East African citizens.
How to book for a chimpanzee trekking permit
A chimpanzee trekking permit in Uganda can either be booked directly through Uganda Wildlife Authority by contacting the offices in Kampala by email or telephone calls or you can book via a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris. When using a tour operator you will contact us with the date, month, year and destination where you want to trek the chimpanzees, we will check availability of the permit and get back to you. You will be asked to make a deposit on the chimpanzee permit and once the deposit has been made you will be asked to send your scanned passport details which will be used to register for your permit and we will acquire the permit for you.
A chimpanzee trekking permit should however be booked 3 to 4 months in advance before the trekking date because during the peak season they are competitive and usually get sold out.
When to go for a chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda can be done anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. The dry season is also known as the peak season and visitors prefer the peak season because during this time there is less rainfall in the forests therefore access roads to the chimpanzee trekking destinations will be passable, there shrubs in the forest will be short and trees in the forest will have short leaves which enable clear viewing of the chimpanzees and the chimpanzee trekking trails will be dry and passable compared to the rainy season when the trails are wet, muddy and slippery.
Though there is heavy rainfall in the rainy season and makes chimpanzee trekking difficult, visitors who visit will have the park for themselves due to less crowds, lodges will offer discounts to visitors as a form of attracting visitors to visit, chimpanzee trekking permits will be less competitive which means that last minute visitors can also trek the chimpanzees and there will be plenty of food for the chimpanzees therefore visitors will not trek them for long because they can even be viewed near the park headquarters.
Rules and regulations for chimpanzee trekking
- Visitors are allowed to spend one hour with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat
- Only 6 visitors are allowed to trek each habituated chimpanzee family
- Visitors are supposed to stay in their groups so as not to get lost in the forest
- Visitors who are not feeling well are advised not to participate in chimpanzee trekking because chimpanzees are vulnerable to human disease
- Visitors should not eat or smoke while in the presence of the chimpanzees
- Children below the age of 12 years are not allowed to trek the chimpanzees
- Visitors should keep 8 meters away from the chimpanzees
- When taking photos cameras with flash are not allowed
- Do not litter while in the forest
- Keep your voices down while in the presence of the chimpanzees
What to carry on your chimpanzee trekking safari
When preparing for your chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda there are some essentials that you should pack such as a chimpanzee trekking permit, hiking shoes, rain jacket/poncho, insect repellent, long sleeved shirt and trousers, warm sweater, energy snacks, camera, a pair of binoculars among others.
Visitors interested in an interesting chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda can book packages like 2 days Uganda chimpanzee safari, 3 days Kibale chimpanzee safari or visit our website for more information.