Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda for best chimp tracking safaris Uganda

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is one of the top activities on Uganda safaris in search of man’s closest primates. Africa has 21 countries with chimpanzees and Uganda chimpanzee trekking safaris experiences are the best since the country has the highest chimp population. 

There several chimpanzee trekking natural habitats in Uganda as well as 1 chimpanzee sanctuary at Ngamba Island known as Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. About 5000 chimpanzees are in Uganda and tracking them in their natural habitat is an amazing experience.

A few facts about Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees are known to be man’s closest relatives after Bonobos sharing about 98.7% DNA content depending on what is considered. Chimpanzees are intelligent creatures each with a flat face , big eyes, small nose and a wide mouth. 

Chimps live in tropical forests and woodland savannah. Their black hair covering almost the entire body, long arms that extend to below their knees and short legs help them live in these environments. Chimps are use their knuckles for walking.

While tracking chimpanzees in Uganda, baby chimpanzees can be differentiated by the white tail tuft that the older chimps do not have. Chimps have the ability to learn and adapt to environments just like humans. Natasha, a female chimpanzee at Ngamba Island is known as the world’s most intelligent chimpanzee after a survey by Ms Esther Herrmann and her colleagues from Germany.

To make chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda possible several chimpanzee families are habituated in the different habitats to ensure they are familiar with human presence and behave almost “normally” hence displaying all of their characters lively during a trek.

Photos of Chimpanzees in Uganda

chimpanzees in Uganda - a safari by Kabira Uganda Safarischimpanzees in Uganda - a safari by Kabira Uganda Safaris
12 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Wildlife tour - Kabira Uganda Safaris12 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Wildlife tour - Kabira Uganda Safaris
12 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Wildlife tour & rafting trip - Kabira Uganda Safaris12 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Wildlife tour & rafting trip - Kabira Uganda Safaris

What is the best time for chimpanzees trekking in Uganda?

Just like the best time to visit Uganda, the best time for a chimpanzee trekking experience in Uganda is during the dry season. This is in the months of June – August and December-February. During this time the rains are less and therefore trekking is more comfortable.

Depending on your interests, chimpanzee tracking safaris Uganda can be customized as part of long tours in Uganda or as a short trip just planned for chimpanzee trekking. This Uganda safari activity can be done either in the morning, mid-morning or afternoon depending on your itinerary schedule.

Where are the best chimpanzee trekking destinations in Uganda?

5 habitats in Uganda are available as chimp tracking spots and these are Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest, Kyambura Gorge,  Kalinzu forest and Toro Semliki wildlife reserve. Here we give you a detailed idea of each destination to help in making great choices for tourists on safaris Uganda during tour planning.

If you are also wondering where to see chimpanzees in Uganda, here are all of the spots to choose from for your next trek;

  • Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is the popular Uganda chimpanzee trekking safari destination since its home to the highest population of chimpanzees, hence the slogan “world’s primate capital”.  

More than 1,500 chimpanzees survive in Kibale Forest and have been habituated for tracking along the Kanyanchu primate walk trails. Because of the high chimp numbers, its only at Kibale Forest where you can track chimps either in the morning, mid-morning or afternoon rather than 2 times in other destinations. 

The high chimp population guarantees a 99.9% chance of seeing chimpanzees in Uganda. During a chimp trek at Kibale Forest, there also other chances of seeing primates like the vervet monkeys, red colobus monkey, black and white colobus, Ugandan red colobus, Uganda mangabey and blue monkey.

Apart from the many primates Kibale Forest also offers the most thrilling photography moments with the unending surprising acts from the chimps.Since the park is the hot spot for tracking chimpanzees in Uganda, always pay as early as possible to ensure chimp trekking permit booking. Learn More

  • Budongo Forest – Murchison Falls National Park

Budongo Forest is the second best spot for chimpanzee just adjacent to Murchison Falls National Park. The forest covers about 825 sq km and home to more than 600 chimpanzees with 4 habituated chimpanzee families for a Budongo chimp trek. 

Trekking chimpanzees in Budongo forest can even be on a short trip since its the closest Uganda chimp tracking habitat from kampala on about a 4 hours drive. Tracking chimpanzees at Budongo is done on the 115km long trail that offers an extensive chance to see chimps and other primates.

While tracking chimpanzees at Budongo Forest also expect to come along several other flora and fauna species. 9 primate species, 24 species of small mammals, 465 plant species and 270 butterflies are within the boundaries of the forest. Learn More

  • Kyambura Gorge – Queen Elizabeth National 

Kyambura Gorge is chimp tracking spot of its kind in the world offering a chimpanzee trekking tour in Uganda to the “valley of apes”. Its referred to the valley of apes because the Kyambura Gorge is about 100m deep below sea level.

The Kyambura Gorge is home to fewer chimpanzees habituated for trekking and sightings are not so amazing like in other spots. Chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge is possible at any time of the day depending on the preferred time.

To have priceless chimp tracking experiences in Kyambura Gorge you can have your trip tailored to a long Uganda wildlife safari with experiences in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Learn More

  • Kalinzu Forest – Queen Elizabeth National Park

Kalinzu Forest close to Queen Elizabeth National Park is another amazing chimpanzee trekking spot.  This is home to over 220 chimpanzees with almost half of them already habituated for chimpanzee trekking experiences with 95% chances of seeing the chimps. 

Tracking chimpanzees in Kalinzu forest can be an all day activity or half day depending on how much time you would love to spend in the primate forest. Kalinzu forest is also home to several primates including vervet monkeys and colobus monkeys. Learn More

  • Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve

Gazetted in 1926, Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve is one of the first reserves to be gazetted in Uganda. This was with the aim of protecting the many Uganda Kobs within this area. Primates, communities and the hot springs in the adjacent Semliki National Park are the top attractions in this area.

Chimpanzees can be tracked during a primate walk in the park however sightings are rare as they are mostly semi habituated. Researchers from the University of Indiana have been studying chimpanzees in the riverine forest of Mugiri and therefore a good spot to sight chimpanzees. Learn More

Chimp trekking permit Uganda?

Just like gorilla trekking in Uganda, chimpanzee trekking requires a permit that is purchased at a price set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Chimpanzee trekking permit prices in Uganda are dependant on the park and the chimp tracking location. Here are the current prices and the set prices to be effective by 1st July 2020.

2019 -1st July 2020 Foreign non residents Foreign residents East Africans
Budongo Forest 90 USD 90 USD  35,000 UGX
Kibale Forest National Park 150 USD 100 USD 150,000 UGX
Kyambura Gorge 50 USD 50 USD 30,000 UGX
1st July 2020 onwards 200 USD 150USD 150,000 UGX

Note: The costs exclude park entrance fees

What are the rules and regulations for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda?

  • To trek chimpanzees you must have a chimp trekking permit that can be booked by your tour operator before the trek date.
  • All intending chimp tracking visitors must attend the briefing session in the morning.
  • Strictly a maximum of 1 hour is spent in the presence of the chimpanzees.
  • Each chimpanzee family is trekked by a total of 6 people per trek.
  • 12 years is the minimum age for chimp trekking in Uganda
  • Do not track chimpanzees if you are sick, they can easily catch human diseases.
  • Do not litter in the forest during tracking
  • If you need to urinate or defecate do so off the trail. Bury your waste in a hole (30cm deep) along with any toilet paper.
  • Do not eat near chimpanzees
  • Do not chase the chimpanzees
  • Do not mimic chimpanzee vocalisation
  • Do not use flash photography
  • Keep as quiet as possible, you will see more
  • Keep at least 8m (25ft) from the chimpanzees at all times

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience Uganda

Unlike Chimpanzee trekking, chimpanzee habituation makes tourists involved in the habituation process (human presence familiarisation) among “wild” chimpanzees. In Uganda chimpanzee habituation experiences can only be undertaken at Kibale Forest National Park.

Chimpanzee habituation in Uganda offers more time with the chimps as you get involved in the process of familiarizing chimpanzees to the presence of humans. Uganda chimpanzee habituation is a whole day experience and expect to wake up early, have packed lunch and head to the jungle.

You find the chimps where they built their nest and spent the night. You spend the day with the gorillas, learning their behavior and seeing how they go along with their day. Carry your camera to capture all the moments. The day ends with the chimpanzees climbing to their newly built nests for the night. 

Chimpanzee habituation prices

2019 -1st July 2020 Foreign non residents Foreign residents East Africans
Full day 200 USD 200 USD 150,000 UGX
Half day 100 USD 100 USD 75,000 UGX
1st July 2020 onwards- Full day 250 USD 250USD 150,000 UGX

Is it possible to see chimpanzees without trekking?

The popular way of seeing chimpanzees is by trekking, however, it is possible to see chimpanzees and learn about them without having to hit the trails for the trek. This is possible by visiting Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Lake Victoria-Africa’s largest freshwater lake.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to 50 chimpanzees, 4 born on the island and 26 rescued from different parts of East Africa. The sanctuary is run by a nonprofit organization. You can visit Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on a 1 day tour to Ngamba Island either at the start or end of any Uganda safaris tour.

Sample Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda itineraries

6 Days Uganda gorilla trekking & wildlife tour

3 Days Bwindi gorilla trekking safari Uganda - Kabira safaris and tours Uganda
Your 6 days Uganda gorilla trekking & wildlife tour is a gorilla tracking safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and wildlife tour in Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Parks. This private tour offers a chance to have the best gorilla trekking experiences as well as have great game viewing experiences in one of the most popular safari parks. Learn More

8 Days Uganda Wildlife tour & gorilla trekking safari

chimpanzees in Uganda - a safari by Kabira Uganda Safaris
This 8 Days Uganda Wildlife tour & gorilla trekking safari is a wildlife safari, chimpanzee tracking and gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. The trip comprises of a visit to Kibale Forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Lake Mburo National Park. Learn More

12 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Wildlife tour & rafting trip

12 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Wildlife tour - Kabira Uganda Safaris
This 12 Days Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Wildlife tour & rafting trip is a white water rafting trip, wildlife safari, chimpanzee tracking and gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. The trip comprises of a visit to Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Lake Mburo National Park. Learn More
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