Chimpanzee trekking is one of Uganda’s top safari destination activities, promising dramatic primate encounters on chimps tracking safaris. A few troops among the estimated 5000 chimps in Uganda are habituated for tourists to visit within their natural habitat. The hike through the rainforest jungle with a troop is what we call chimp trekking.
Trekking chimpanzees through the tall, tangled scrubs and primeval trees that carpet western Uganda’s rainforest demands you have a guide with a machete, wear light hiking boots, hiking trousers, a ridiculous hat to keep the thorns out of your head. The experience requires that you carry a bucketload of patience and a wild sense of humor. Such dramatic encounters are exceptional, but even on a slow day, the chimpanzee tracking is exceptionally thrilling.
Trekking entourages set off daily across the forest floor at 0800 and, about half an hour later, reach the treetop nests that the chimpanzee community had built the previous night. They spend the next hour watching the chimps feed, play, laugh, hug, kiss, and fornicate. The male chimps hold fight bouts, slap hollow buttress roots, and chase each other, jostling for a seat at the top of the hierarchy.
Your trackers will find them by following a trail of knuckle prints, dung, and half-digested fruit and allow tourists to observe them from a distance, avoiding loud noise, sudden movement, standing, shaking branches, and worst of all, staring at them. Still and all, tempting to gaze into the eyes of a wild creature that shares 98.4 percent of our DNA will change everything you thought and felt about primates.
Alpha Adventure Safaris offers customized chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda, tailor-making every detail of the safari experience to suit traveler’s choice of travel style and budget. Most of our chimp trekking packages combine the chimpanzee safari experience with seeing the mountain gorillas in the far-flung mountainous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. A chimpanzee safari combines well with wildlife game drives in the nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park or the far northern Murchison Falls National Park.
Uganda offers great inland-safari experiences to moderately match our neighboring destinations in case you’re avoiding the border crossing bureaucracy. You can see the primates, fly across the country, take a game drive, a boat safari, and relax a serene holiday spot on a private all-inclusive Uganda safari.
Chimpanzee habituation experience is for you if interested in learning more about the behavior of chimpanzees and subsequently spend more time in their presence. Please note that this is a scientific experience of getting chimps ‘used’ to humans.
Although the chimpanzees will not be in sight all the time, you will learn about them all round, collect their droppings, learn about their feeding habits, track them in case you find when they have left their nests. Here are some tips to help you prepare and enjoy your chimpanzee habituation experience.
The best place to see chimpanzees in Uganda is Kibale Forest National Park, home to five Habituated chimpanzee troops within easy walking distance from the Kanyanchu trailhead. Observing them in their natural habitat is a rare treat.
Kibale Forest is home to around 1500 chimpanzees living in 13 communities. Of these, various groups have been successfully habituated; some for scientific study, and others, such as the Kanyanchu group, are used for trekking experiences. Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda occurs daily, in the mornings, and afternoons, and typically lasts 3-4 hours with up to one hour spent with the chimps.
To see chimpanzees in Uganda, one requires a trekking permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority. The permit costs USD 200 per person per day for non-residents. Foreign resident’s permit costs $150 per person and East African Nationals par 150,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX).
Kyambura Gorge, located in the far eastern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park, is another protected reserve that offers chimpanzee trekking in Uganda. The 300ft deep “Valley of The Apes” gorge is surrounded by the beautiful savannah and craters of Queen Elizabeth National Park, with the Rwenzori Mountains as a brooding backdrop. While the chances of seeing chimps here are lower than in Kibale, the incredible scenery is just as much part of the attraction. Trekking down through the vines and giant fig trees (less conventional than tiring) will make you feel like you’re in an underground forest.
Made of two eco-tourism sites, Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro, Budongo forest offers excellent chimpanzee trekking safaris for trekkers interested in more challenging experiences than in Kibale Forest. A good site for chimps trekking is Kaniyo Pabidi, en route to Murchison Falls and part of the greater Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The other site, Busingiro, is home to the Royal Mile, one of the country’s top bird-watching tracks.