The Chimpanzee habituation experience in Congo is an exceptional adventure that awaits all travelers in search of an unforgettable primate encounter. Congo, with its remarkable Virunga National Park, offers a must-do experience for anyone embarking on a primate vacation.
Chimpanzees are known for their elusive and shy nature. However, in Virunga National Park, the Chimpanzee habituation/tracking experience transforms your encounter with these incredible primates into an enduring memory.
Chimpanzee habituation is a fascinating process that involves acclimating chimpanzees to the presence of humans and their environment. This process lasts for approximately two years before the chimpanzees are deemed ready for tracking by park visitors. Each day, Chimpanzee tracking and habituation activities take place in the lush Tongo forest, located near the Virunga National Park headquarters in the Rumangabo Region.
Your Chimpanzee habituation experience in Congo begins bright and early at 6:00 am. Each group, consisting of a maximum of four members, is allocated to a particular chimpanzee family undergoing habituation on that specific day. The day’s adventure commences with trackers heading into the forest to locate the chimpanzee group, while the guides accompany visitors to the habituation site.
Upon encountering the chimpanzee family, you’ll spend several hours observing and studying their behaviors, all while the experienced guides provide valuable insights into the lives of these habituated primates.
Currently, there are only three chimpanzee families undergoing habituation in the Tongo forest. Visitors interested in tracking or habituating chimpanzees are required to spend a night at Mikeno Lodge before the actual tracking date. This overnight stay is necessary due to the challenging and dusty road conditions leading to the park. Additionally, it ensures efficient time management, as the tracking process begins at 6:00 am.
Participating in the Chimpanzee habituation experience requires a permit, which is the key to accessing the chimpanzees. While these permits are relatively affordable compared to other primate encounters, visitors are required to pay $100 USD per person per day.
Chimpanzee permits, like gorilla permits, can also be refunded under specific circumstances. These include instances of human diseases, such as fever, cold, diarrhea, and persistent sore throat, which can easily be transmitted to chimpanzees. Since these primates are susceptible to human respiratory diseases and common ailments, it’s crucial to address such health issues before the scheduled tracking date to facilitate prompt refund arrangements.
Visitors have the flexibility to select the most suitable time for their Chimpanzee habituation experience. This activity is conducted throughout the year, regardless of the season. While the peak season is favored by many due to less rainfall and clear skies, others opt for the low season to avoid overcrowding at the park and take advantage of discounts offered by select lodges and permit providers.