Chimpanzee trekking involves following habituated chimpanzees in their natural habitat to observe their behavior, social life, and entertainment. It provides a unique opportunity to witness these intelligent and fascinating creatures up close and learn more about their natural environment.
Yes, a chimpanzee trekking permit is required in both Uganda and Rwanda to be part of this thrilling adventure. The permit allows you to join guided groups led by experienced ranger guides into the wilderness to encounter chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda can be enjoyed in various locations, including Kibale National Park, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kaniyo Pabidi Forest in Murchison Falls National Park, Kalinzu Forest, and Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
In Rwanda, the primary destination for chimpanzee trekking is Nyungwe National Park. This stunning park, located in the southwestern part of Rwanda, offers the opportunity to witness chimpanzees still under habituation, making it an even more thrilling experience.
Chimpanzee trekking permits can be obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda and Rwanda Development Authority in Rwanda. However, due to busy phone call queues, getting through might be challenging. Tour operators like Trek Africa Expeditions can check availability and reserve permits on your behalf, making the process smoother.
As of today, the cost of a chimpanzee trekking permit varies depending on the location in Uganda. Kibale National Park permits are priced at $250, Kalinzu at $30, Kaniyo Pabidi Forest at $80, and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park at $50. In Rwanda, the permit costs $100 per person per day, and only 64 permits are sold each day.
For chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, there are several accommodation options available in different parks. In Kibale National Park, you can stay at Kyaninga Lodge, Primates Lodge, Kibale Safari Lodge, Ndali Lodge, among others. In Queen Elizabeth National Park, consider Mweya Safari Lodge, Bush Lodge, Jacana Lodge, and Ishasha Tented Camp. In Murchison Falls National Park, options include Nile Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, and Red Chillis Camp.
The level of difficulty during chimpanzee trekking varies depending on the park and its topography. Generally, the trek in Kibale National Park and Kaniyo Pabidi Forest in Murchison Falls National Park is fairly passable with some level of fitness required. However, Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda has hilly topography, necessitating a higher level of fitness. Proper chimpanzee trekking gear is essential for comfort during the adventure.
To access Kibale National Park for chimpanzee trekking, two routes are available from Kampala or Entebbe Airport. You can either take the northern route through Fort Portal City or the southern route through Kanyanchu. Domestic flights are also available from Entebbe Airport and Kajjansi Airstrip to Kasese Airport, from where you can hire a transfer vehicle to Kibale National Park.
Kyambura Gorge is located on the southeastern banks of the Kazinga Channel, part of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The gorge lies 100 meters from the Kyambura River, flowing across the Rift Valley floor.
To reach Kaniyo Pabidi in Murchison Falls National Park, drive through the Kichumbanyobo gate, and proceed for about 8 km.
From Kigali Airport, a scenic drive of about 5 hours will take you to Nyungwe National Park. You can make stops along the way, such as at the National Museum, to add more experiences to your journey. Charter domestic flights by Rwanda Airlines can also be arranged in advance.
Yes, the age limit for chimpanzee trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda is 12 years. This requirement ensures that children can withstand the tropical forest conditions and handle the trek comfortably.
For a successful chimpanzee trekking experience, it is recommended to pack essential items such as binoculars, a flash-less camera, long-sleeved shirts and trousers in wilderness-friendly colors, insect repellent, a cap or hat, an extra fully charged camera battery, a torch, toiletries, a notebook and pen, a water bottle, and some hard cash for domestic transactions.
Several rules are essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable chimpanzee trekking experience. They include being fully immunized of Covid-19 or any other infectious infections, not littering the forest, refraining from eating in front of the chimpanzees, properly disposing of waste, avoiding provoking the chimpanzees, respecting the age limit, maintaining a distance of about 8 meters from the chimpanzees, and always being accompanied by a ranger guide.
The duration of chimpanzee trekking can vary depending on the forest conditions and the location. It typically takes between 2 hours or more to locate the chimpanzees. However, this is estimated, and the actual time may vary.
Chimpanzees in Uganda and Rwanda have undergone habituation for a long time, making them accustomed to human presence and less likely to turn aggressive without reason. However, they can snap if provoked, and visitors are advised not to irritate them. It’s essential to maintain a safe distance and never feed the chimpanzees to establish a clear boundary between humans and wildlife. Armed ranger guides accompany visitors into the forest to protect them from potential animal encounters, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
These are the frequently asked questions about chimpanzee trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, offering comprehensive information for anyone considering this remarkable adventure. For further details, contact Trek Africa Expeditions through email and Tripadvisor.