Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

August 29, 2023 | Bujo Safaris

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzee trekking is the activity that involves hiking through thick forests in order to visit man’s second cousin while in their natural habitat. This activity is similar to gorilla trekking and the only difference is that this time round you are visiting a different primate specie and you won’t have to trek to very high altitude areas. Uganda is home to more than 5000 chimps and chimpanzee trekking can be carried out in some popular destinations like Kibale forest National Park, Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary on Kalangala island, Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Budogo forest in Murchison falls national park. 

Kibale forest National Park in western Uganda was named as one of the best chimpanzee trekking destinations in the world due to its large numbers of chimpanzees summing up to over 1500. Chimpanzee trekking tours commence very early in the morning and you are first briefed about the chimpanzees and also a little history about the destination you have chosen. The treks lead you to where the chimpanzees are, once you encounter the habituated communities usually made up of up to 100 members and each community is led by an alpha, a dominant male who manages other members, you spend more than an hour observing the behavior of the chimps such as how they socialize, communicate to each other through using gestures and facial expressions, what they feed on, how they play and even the hierarchy levels within the communities. Chimpanzees are more aggressive compared to mountain gorillas and therefore you need to follow all the rules and guidelines given to you by the park’s authorities. Chimpanzee trekking usually lasts for 3-4 hours depending on the location of the habituated chimpanzee communities. During the treks, you are also in the company of trained game rangers and researchers who explain the different questions you might have and also tell you more about the community and the behaviors you are observing. Once you meet these primates, you will feel connected to these incredible creatures and be amazed at how unique and beautiful nature is.

Embarking on chimpanzee trekking adventure is a thrilling experience and whenever you engage in this activity you are hugely contributing to conserving the animals through making donations to support those in sanctuaries, a percentage of the cost of permits is used to pay the researchers and guides who make the trekking possible, you also create awareness of their existence to your social network which may in return encourage them to also come and visit the chimps. The destinations also have neighboring communities who benefit from tourists through selling handcrafts, food and offer accommodation. 

For aged trekkers interested in enjoying the chimpanzee trekking experience, they can arrange their bookings with a reputable tour operator who are able to put in place whatever you might need such as the transport, accommodation and even carriers during the trek if need be, another option is to ask for a chimpanzee community that is very close to the starting point such that you don’t have to move for a very long distance, you can also opt to visit the Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary where the chimps can easily be found compared to the other destinations as they tend to be more wild and disperse in the forest.

How much does it cost?

Destinations cost differently such as Kalinzu forest costs between $200 and $150 due to its popularity, Kalizu costs $50 and $40, Budongo forest is at $90 & $80 and Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth goes for $50, these prices are for foreign non-residents and residents respectively. 

When to do chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

The best time to go chimpanzee trekking largely depends on when you want to do it however the recommended times are during the dry season which happens between December to February and June to August. During this time it is so much easier to trek the chimpanzees because the trails are dry compared to the wet season when they get muddy and hence you will have difficulty in navigating the trails due to the sticky mud and some sections get slippery and this distorts the whole experience. However you can visit at any time of the year but make sure when going for the trek the trails are less muddy. The dry season also has less vegetation hence it will be easy to spot the chimpanzees compared to when the vegetation is lush and thick.

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