Chimpanzee Tracking (trekking) is the activity where travelers with the help of a guide through the jungle follow the trail left by a habituated chimpanzee family and when they find them, spend sometime (usually an hour) with the chimps experiencing their cultures.
Chimpanzee Tracking in East Africa
Chimpanzee tracking or chimpanzee trekking or the primate walk activity is more popular in Kibale forest National Park the primate capital of the world. The park is home to 1450 chimpanzees and half of the number has been habituated and those are the ones tracked by tourists. Chimpanzee tracking is a very fascinating activity as you watch man’s closest relatives feed, play and interact with one another. The chimpanzee tracking in Uganda is also found in other areas like Budongo forest, Kyambura gorge, Kalinzu reserve and Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Chimpanzee Trekking Safari Ideas
Looking for some trip inspiration? Designed by our specialists using their expertise and knowledge, our tailor-made itinerary suggestions below will give you a taste of the type of trips we can put together for you. Bear in mind, these are just a starting point as all holidays are customized to the specific requirements of our guests.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
This activity is only done in Kibale Forest National Park and is one of the lifetime experiences that will stay with you. As a guest you will go out with researchers at Sebitole center for the chimpanzee habituation daily activities. During the activity, chimpanzees are being introduced to the human presence without changing their natural environment. You will come across chimpanzees de-nesting and nesting. The habituation program starts between 05:30- 7:00pm (19:00 hrs) and the activity is available only in selected months of March, April, May and November.
Cost of a Chimpanzee Trekking Permit
Chimpanzee tracking permit fees varies from where the activity is done as follows;
- Kibale ordinary chimpanzee permit $150
- Kibale Chimpanzee Habituation experience permit $1500 it’s a full day activity and you need parked lunch.
- Budongo Chimpanzee Tracking permit $70 and since its close to Murchison falls National park don’t forget a visit to the falls
- Kyambura gorge Chimpanzee Tracking permit $70 and add on a visit to queen Elizabeth N.P since it’s closer
- Kalinzu Chimpanzee Tracking permit $35
What to expect during Chimpanzee Trekking?
In Kibale Forest National Park, you will be expected to arrive at the Kanyanchu Visitor center by 08:00am for morning session and 15:00 hours (3pm) for the afternoon chimpanzee tracking activity. The tracking will last for 2 to 3 hours in Kibale forest in search for this species where you will site other primates like Monkeys (Black & White Columbus monkeys), Baboons and Grey Cheeked Mangabeys.
Once you are at the visitor center the UWA rangers/ guides will take you through a briefing about the history of the park, wildlife species found in it and the dos & don’ts while Chimpanzee tracking. After you will be divided in groups of 6 people who will be given a ranger guide to lead you the forest through different routes. He will show you sights of different primates, tree species and bird species in the park. Once you find the chimpanzees you will be allowed at most 1 hour to spend or follow them as they swing from one tree to another.
Chimpanzee tracking is strenuous and you need to be physically fit to participate in the activity. Please note that chimpanzee permits are in demand and bookings should be done in advance to avoid disappointments.
How much does Chimpanzee Trekking Safari cost
A chimpanzee tracking safari will depend mainly on how much you can spend on your trip from budget to Midrange and luxury safari as per below;
We encourage you to book your Chimpanzee permit with an agent or tour operator since this helps you avoid disappointments and also explore more activities. It seems cheap but you will end up incurring more costs in transportation.
What to wear and carry before a chimpanzee Trekking Safari
- Wear comfortable trekking shoes like snickers with strong grip
- Long sleeved shirts and blouses as well as long trousers
- Rain coat since whether in the park is un predictable
- Drinking water and snacks
- Pair of binoculars
How to reach Chimpanzee Trekking Areas
Kibale Forest National Park is the best place to participate in chimpanzee tracking and can be reached via to routes by road; that is Mubende – Fortportal road and Mbarara – Kamwenge road to the Kanyanchu gate. While using air transport the park is accessed through Entebbe international airport and no domestic flights manning the route.
Budongo Forest reserve is another place in Uganda to track chimpanzees and it’s accessed via Masindi Highway on your way to Murchison falls National park. It will take you approximately 4 hours by road to get there. The reserve is also accessed by air via Pakuba airstrip in Murchison falls national park
Kyambura gorge is found in Queen Elizabeth National park and accessed through 5 districts Kasese, Mbarara, Fort portal, Ntungumo and Bushenyi by road and only via Kasese by Air.
Best time for Chimpanzee Trekking
The time of visit varies depending on the seasons that’s wet or dry, however, chimpanzee tracking is open all year long. The best months for Chimpanzee tracking are December – February and June – August with less slippery trails and great photography moments.
Rules and Regulations for Chimpanzee Trekking
Below are the rules and regulations which all guests should abide with if they wish to participate in Chimpanzee tracking;
- 8 Meters distance should be observed when you are close to the chimpanzees since they can contract diseases from us and respiratory diseases affect them a lot like flue and cough
- Only adults from 15 years onwards are allowed to participate in chimpanzee tracking
- Don’t eat in the presence of chimpanzees
- The ranger guide is the only one allowed to lead you to the forest and this is for safety reasons
- Flash photography is prohibited during tracking
What you need to know about Chimpanzees
- Chimpanzee DNA is 98.7% close to humans
- Chimpanzee average weight is 35-70 kilograms and a height of approximately 3 meters for males well as female chimpanzees weigh 26 – 50 kilograms with a height of 2-4 feet.
- Life expectancy of a chimpanzee is 40 years in the wild and 60 years in captivity.
- The Jane Goodall institute has played a great role in the conservation of this endangered species.
- Chimpanzees are sociable, gentle and intelligent animals that communicate through using different sounds meaning different things.
- Chimpanzees use tools like rocks to crash nuts and defense, sticks for capturing termites and empty pods for scooping out water.
- Chimps stay in communities of 10 to 100 individuals in an area of over 100 acres
- Chimpanzees eat on the ground and at night they make their nests in very tall trees. Did you know that chimpanzees sleep in a different nest every night, visit them and prove for yourself?
For your planning purposes you can visit the park for a day or multiple days depending on your budget. We recommend that you combine this tour with other classical places in Uganda like Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Jinja tour, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Kidepo Valley National Park.