Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is carried out in Kibale forest national park, Kyambura gorge, Kalinzu forest, Budongo forest, and Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary. Just like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees are human closest relatives sharing about 98% human DNA. They stay in big communities of 20-80 individuals and these groups are known as troops. The group is headed by a dominant chimpanzee which offers security to the group and also instructs other group members on the daily activities. Chimpanzees are herbivores primates feeding mainly on shoots, fruits, leaves, insects, ants, termites and sometimes hunt small mammals such as antelopes for meat.
In Uganda chimpanzee trekking is done in so many places and these include Kibale forest national park, Kyambura gorge, Budongo forest, toro Semuliki wildlife reserve, and Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary. in all these places chimpanzee trekking starts with a briefing at the park headquarters after which ranger guides lead trekkers not exceeding 8 to the jungle where they start looking for these primates. when trekkers have finally allocated the chimpanzees, they are given a maximum of 1 hour to be around the chimpanzees in case of trekking, and if it’s habituation they are given a maxim of 4 hours as they take pictures and learn about their habits.
In Uganda chimpanzee trekking is done in many places among which include Kyambura gorger, Kibale national park, Budongo forest, and Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary.
Kibale forest located in the western part of Uganda is the country’s primate capital with over 13 primates among which include the chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, pottos, patas monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, Uganda mangabeys, olive baboons, Uganda red colobus, and the Demidoff galago.
In Kibale forest, national park visitors can either choose to do a full-day chimpanzee habituation experience or half-day trekking the already habituated families. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park begins early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are taught about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity. After chimpanzee trekking briefing, the trekkers are grouped into 8 and given a ranger guide to lead them into the forest to search for these gentle primates. after 2-3 for searching, trekkers will find the habituated chimpanzee family and will be given a maximum of 1 hour to be around them as they learn about their behaviors.
Apart from chimpanzee trekking, tourists to Kibale forest national park can do other activities in the park such as chimpanzee habituation where chimpanzees are trained to get used to human presence, bird watching where you have an opportunity of seeing over 375 birds that have been so far recorded in the park, nature walks, nocturnal forest walks among others.
Depending on your travel budget and the number of days on your safari, you can stay in budget, mid-range, or high-end accommodation facilities that are spread in and out of Kibale forest national park. The accommodation in Kibale forest national park includes primate lodge Kibale, Kanyanchu river camp Kibale forest camp, chimpanzee forest guesthouse, Nyinabulitwa country resort, mountains of the moon hotel, papaya lake lodge, Ndali Kasenda lodge, Amaraga rift valley lodge, Kibale safari lodge, crater safari lodge among others.
Kyambura gorge also known as the valley of apes is situated in the eastern part of Queen Elizabeth national park. Kyambura gorge is the best place to go for tourists who have had a game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park. The gorge has only one chimpanzee habituated family but it’s interesting watching it. the trekking of chimpanzees in Kyambura happens in two sessions the morning and the evening. All the session starts with a briefing in the morning at the visitors’ center. After the briefing, the 8 trekkers are given a ranger guide who leads them into the forest to start searching for the chimpanzees. After allocating the chimpanzees, the trekkers are given a maximum of 1 hour to be around these primates as they learn about their behaviors and also take photos. To take part in the trekking you need to have a valid chimpanzee trekking permit and this can be got from the park offices in Mweya. There are only 16 permits available for chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura gorge with 8 for the morning and the other 8 in the evening.
During chimpanzee trekking, you have opportunities of seeing different bird species especially the beautiful flamingos, papyrus canary, African skimmer, and shoebill stork among others, primates such as olive baboons, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, lions, buffaloes, hyenas, hippos, elephants, and antelopes to mention but a few.
Being located in queen Elizabeth national park, there are several accommodation options in and around Kyambura gorge. These range from budget to mid-range to luxuries such as Kyambura gorge lodge, Katara lodge, Kyangabi crater resort, park view safari lodge, Mweya safari lodge, Enganzi game lodge, twin lakes safari, and so many others.
Budongo forest reserve is located in the western part of the country near Murchison falls national park. Budongo is the largest survival natural forest in the country. The forest is home to 24 species of mammals, 39 bird species, 280 butterflies, and 9 species of primates among which include chimpanzees. Budongo forest reserve has over 700 chimpanzees with only 6 habituated families that are open or trekking. Chimpanzee trekking is the most done activity in the place and the activity starts in the morning with a briefing at the information center at Budongo eco-lodge. After the briefing, the trekkers are grouped into 8 and given a ranger guide to lead them into the jungle in search of these gentle primates.
Budongo forest has several accommodation options ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury. Where to stay depends on your budget. The accommodation facilities can be found around Masindi, Murchison falls national park, and Budongo forest and these include Budongo eco-lodge, Saltek forest cottages, Kabalega resort hotel, Masindi hotel, and new court view hotel among others.
Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary is located on one of the islands of Lake Victoria in Entebbe, more than 50 orphaned chimpanzees that were rescued from poachers and meat traders call Ngamba island their home. It’s a 90 mins drive using a local boat or 50 minutes using a speed boat from Lake Victoria before meeting eye to eye with chimpanzees feeding and caring for each other. Many of the tourists that visit this place want to participate in the caretaking. If you have flu or cough you won’t be allowed to trek, you will need to keep a distance of 7 – 12 while with these primates. flash photography is not allowed and lastly, children below 2 are not allowed to trek. Book with us today and visit Uganda for an unforgettable chimpanzee trekking experience.
Chimpanzee trekking price in Uganda differs with every place having its own prices. To trek chimpanzees in Kibale forest national park the permit goes for $200 for both foreign nonresidents and foreign residents, East African citizens pay UGX150,000. Kyambura gorge chimpanzee permits cost $50 foreign nonresidents and foreign residents while East African citizens pay UGX30,000. In Toro Semuliki wild reserve chimpanzee trekking costs $30 for both foreign nonresidents and foreign residents while East African residents pay UGX 20,000. All the above rates include guide fees, exclude entrance fees except for Kibale forest national park.
Uganda can be visited at any time of the year as the parks are open every day but the best time to visit the park is the dry season. The dry season occurs in the months of June to September and December to February. During these months there is little or no rainfall, the vegetation is thin so the chimpanzees are clearly seen, the trekking trails are not muddy or slippery and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Trekking in the rainy season favors the budget travelers because the accommodations in and around the parks offer discounts as well as permits. trekking in the rainy season takes short time because the chimpanzees don’t move so far to look for food because it’s plenty. The rainy season gets the roads leading to the parks impassable, the trails slippery and muddy so you have to move with waterproof hiking shoots and a rain jacket.
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