Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda | best Uganda Chimp Trekking Tours
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is one of the most remarkable Uganda wildlife safari experiences. There are 4 major destinations for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda: Kibale Forest, Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Budongo Forest Reserve, and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kibale Forest National Park is the best place for chimp trekking safaris in Uganda, as the forest has high population densities and offers 95% chances of seeing them.
Short Chimpanzee Trekking Tours in Uganda
Is chimpanzee trekking in Uganda worth it?
If you’ve ever had a chance to see chimpanzees in the wild, you’ll know what an extraordinary experience it can be! And if you haven’t, we know chimpanzee trekking in Uganda – the setting for the Chimp Empire, a thrilling Netflix documentary – will be high on everyone’s bucket list!
Imagine the adventure of tracking these great apes on foot through a dense rainforest jungle.
Although it doesn’t get the same attention as gorilla trekking tours, observing chimps at a close proximity on foot is an amazing encounter, almost on a par with a gorilla trek. As we share 98.8% of our DNA with them, they’re our closest living relatives. Chimps live in communities of 20 to 250 individuals.
Like humans, they tend to have strong personalities, and their expressive faces make their identities very recognizable to us. Their intelligence and social behavior are endlessly fascinating to observe.
And if you are lucky, you may hear their chorus of vocalizations, called pant-hooting – a spine-tingling experience you’ll never forget. Few fortunate tourists get to witness chimps hunting colobus monkeys.
Long Uganda Chimpanzee Trekking Tours
At Tulambule, we offer complete chimpanzee trekking tours in Uganda. Some of our Uganda tour packages features sole chimpanzee destination.
But chimp trekking in Uganda is mostly done as part of long Uganda safaris. So, the tour can include other activities such as wildlife viewing in savannah parks, birding, gorilla trekking, white-water rafting, mountain climbing, canoeing, cycling tours, and community cultural encounters.
All You Need To Know About Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda
1. Facts About Chimpanzees
- There are around 300,000 chimpanzees remaining in the equatorial rainforests of west, central and east Africa
- More than 5700 live in Uganda’s forests.
- Chimpanzees are the smallest of the Great Apes and live in communities of up to 250 members.
- The chimp communities are organized into smaller subgroups, each of which is commanded by an alpha male.
- Like humans, chimpanzees are omnivorous.
- They’re opportunistic feeders, with fruit forming half of the diet, supplemented by leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, bark, pith, mushrooms, honey, eggs, and animal prey such as insects and medium-sized mammals.
- Chimpanzees are also the most carnivorous of the great apes (other than humans).
- They are known to form hunting parties to track down and catch species such as colobus monkeys.
- Today, we know that chimps are our closest genetic relatives, sharing around 98.8% of our DNA.
2. What is chimpanzee trekking?
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda involves hiking through the rain forest jungles in search of a habituated community of chimpanzees. It is completely different from the typical Africa safari experiences and it provides people a welcome break from savannah game drives. It is an active safari activity.
Chimpanzees live in rainforest jungles and the only way to access to them is by foot. Being omnivores, chimpanzees are much more active than the typically sedentary and vegetarian gorillas.
Finding them often means tracking for 3 to 6 hours along forest pathways, sometimes via known fruiting trees and other food sources.
Chimpanzee encounters can be an exhausting and exhilarating experience, as they are often very active, especially if they are facing up to rival troops, hunting monkeys, or moving fast to another area.
Meeting chimpanzees in the wild is an extraordinary experience. Coming face to face with an animal so clearly intelligent and thoughtful is unlike any other animal encounter in Africa and hard to put into words.
3. Where To Go For Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda?
In most respects, Kibale Forest National Park which is home to over 1500 chimps is the best location in Uganda (in fact, the best in the whole world) for viewing wild chimpanzees. It gives the highest chances of seeing chimpanzees
In addition, since the community visited by tourists has been habituated since the 1990s, the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest are now very relaxed in the presence of human guests. This implies that when they do settle down, you will often enjoy extended close-up encounters of grooming and other interaction.
Two ways in which Kibale compares unfavorably to other chimp trekking destinations in Uganda is that it is relatively expensive and can be a little bit crowded when several tour groups are in the destination.
For a more affordable chimpanzee trekking encounter, you can try Kalinzu Forest Reserve or Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park – the home of tree-climbing lions, as well as elephants, buffalos, hippos, crocodiles, and antelopes.
Another great off-the-beaten-track option is for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda Budongo Forest Reserve, which is easily visited on the way to Murchison Falls National Park, which is home to the world’s strongest waterfalls and over 76 mammal species including, 4 of the Big Five animals.
Both Kalinzu Forest Reserve and Budongo Forest Reserve have a high success rate of seeing chimps in Uganda, although they are not quite as reliable as Kibale Forest National Park.
4. Fitness Level Required For Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
You’ll need to be relatively fit to go chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, though every day is different. Some days, the trek is more difficult than other days.
Chimps have big territories. And you might be lucky to find them after one or it might take 6 hours.
You get to spend a maximum of one hour with them. They might be stationary, feeding or resting or they might be on the move. Contrary to gorillas, chimpanzees move very fast through the forest undergrowth.
And trying to keep up with them can be a great challenge. The unpredictability adds to the adventure. Most people walk away with an amazing experience. Whatever your fitness, you will need pack proper gear for chimpanzee trekking. These include good hiking shoes, a lightweight rain jacket, long trousers, etc.
5. What is the age limit for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda?
The minimum chimpanzee trekking in Uganda age is 12 years. There is no maximum age.
6. How Close Can I Get To Chimps?
Chimpanzees are humankind’s closest relatives. They share 98.8% of our DNA.
That implies that they can catch our illnesses easily. For this reason, as well as your own safety, you are advised to keep a reasonable distance of about 7 to 10 meters when observing chimps.
You’ll track chimpanzees in a small group of up to 6 people. Your trekking guide will give you very specific instructions on where to stay when you get close to the chimps.
Despite this, chimps themselves are much habituated and they do not follow the rules. On top of that, it might occasionally be challenging to back off due to the dense forest growth.
Therefore, it is very likely that a chimpanzee will approach you within a meter.
7. How much is chimpanzee trekking in Uganda?
Chimp trekking in Kibale Forest costs USD 200, Kyambura Gorge (USD 50), Kalinzu Forest (USD 50) and Budongo Forest USD 130.
When booking an organized Uganda safari tour, these fees are included in the overall safari price. A 3 days chimpanzee trekking safari in Kibale National Park costs approximately USD 800 per person.
And a 10 Days Uganda safari tour, including chimp and gorilla trekking, as well as savannah safaris in Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, costs approximately USD 4,300 per person.
These prices are only guidelines because they vary depending on the level of accommodation on your Uganda tour. These include select budget, mid-range and luxury Uganda safari lodges/accommodation options.
8. How Does Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda Compare To Other Countries?
While there are several countries in Africa that offer chimp trekking, the activity is best done in Uganda. Many visitors go chimp trekking at least once on their wildlife safaris in Uganda.
There is great chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania in Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Parks, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. Gombe is well-known for being the site of Dr. Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee research.
Also in these remote areas, it is very special. But getting there is either very expensive or time-consuming. Because of this, chimp trekking is much less common on Tanzania safaris. In Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest is a less-known chimpanzee trekking location. This ancient montane rainforest is remarkably accessible.
And it is home to 13 primate species. Nyungwe is worth visiting for its natural beauty, forest hikes, canopy walks, and biodiversity alone. And the opportunity to trek for chimps is a bonus. Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is recommended, but sightings are more hit-and-miss than in Uganda.
9. Are Chimp Sightings Guaranteed In Uganda?
Your success rate of finding the Uganda Chimpanzees depends on where you go on a chimpanzee tour. Though habituated, the chimps are totally wild.
They move daily in search of food. Also, they make a new nest every night wherever they end up. All in all, these agile primates are less sedentary than gorillas. So, the sightings are altogether more variable.
In Kibale, sightings are almost guaranteed (95%). With a lot of visitor activity as well as research groups operating here, the guides usually have a good idea of where the chimps are at any time.
Kalinzu is the next best alternative with about 90% chances. Budongo forest offers around 70% chances and in Kyambura Gorge, the Chances are around 60%.
10. Is chimpanzee trekking safe?
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is widely regarded to be safe. The chimps are habituated. They know that humans pose no threat to them. In fact, we have never heard of a guest being injured by a chimpanzee on a trekking tour. However, a large chimpanzee is comparable in size to adult human.
And chimps are far stronger than humans. Therefore, it is very important to follow the instructions of trekking guide to ensure your safety. Children below the age of 12, being smaller and more vulnerable than adults, are not permitted to go for Kibale Chimpanzee trekking tours in Uganda.
Also, for both your safety and comfort, we recommend that you wear good walking or hiking shoes/boots, long trousers/pant, and long-sleeved shirt.
By tucking your trouser legs into your long socks, you reduce the likelihood of getting bitten by safari ants (which are harmless but and have a nasty bite) and other creepy-insects.
Neutral colors that blend into the forest environment such as khaki, green, and gray are recommended on the Chimpanzee trekking tour. And a walking stick may be useful for maneuvering across difficult terrain.
11. How Do Chimp & Gorilla Trekking Compare?
In comparison to trekking gorillas in Uganda, chimp trekking is vastly underrated. This might be a result of gorillas’ enormous size, which makes these gentle giants so overwhelming to be around.
But the experiences are almost similar. Before you set out with a small group of guests on either activity, your ranger will brief you. You’ll have an entire hour to observe the primates once you’ve located them.
The primary distinction is that gorillas are overall less active. The young ones may play, but the adults typically eat or sleep. Also gorillas live in families of up 20 individuals.
While gorilla families always stay together, chimp communities are more fluid. They often split into sub groups, which spend time apart to reunite later. There always seems to be something going on in a chimpanzee community.
For example, you may see an alpha male trying to take over, a youngster chimp throwing a tantrum, males patrolling their territory and, occasionally, a hunt for colobus monkeys.
Although this makes chimpanzee trekking and watching very rewarding, it also makes it trickier than spending time with mountain gorillas. When on the move, chimps are difficult to follow.
Their nimble bodies move easily through thick vegetation while you may struggle to get through. Chimpanzees spend most of their time high up in trees compared to gorillas.
That can make watching more difficult too. Despite this, your guide will work really hard to ensure you get a good sighting and great photo opportunities. Last but not least is the price difference; chimp trekking costs $200 in Kibale and less in other parks, while gorilla trekking costs $700 per person.
12. What should I pack for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda?
- A lightweight rain jacket or poncho
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Waterproof trousers.
- Sturdy hiking boots or shoes
- Leather gardening -type gloves.
- Sunscreen, sunhat and insect repellent.
Ready For Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda?
You can visit Uganda and see chimps on tour, lasting from 2 to 21 days. You’ll need to book well in advance. That is because most chimpanzee tracking sits within a wider itinerary that typically includes gorilla tracking, too. Few gorilla tracking permits are available and they sell out far in advance.
If chimps are your primate favourite, though, opt for a tailor made trip so you can request more than one chimp tracking experience, and even skip the gorillas altogether if you prefer. This keeps costs down, too.