Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda – Uganda Chimpanzee Trekking Tours
Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda, a Breathtaking Adventure on Uganda Safaris
The mountain gorillas of Uganda are of course the country’s biggest tourist attraction, but these aren’t Uganda’s only great apes.
Our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, are found in several places in Uganda. Imagine the adventure tracking these great apes on foot in a dense rainforest. Lonely planet call it one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences.
Chimps live in communities. The communities range from 20 to 250 individuals. Several chimpanzee communities in Uganda have been habituated to human presence in the same way as the gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
While their more energetic lifestyle and unpredictable nature makes them slightly less approachable. There is no doubt a trek to see chimps in their natural forest habitat is a breathtaking adventure. Like us, chimpanzees have strong personalities. Their social behavior and intelligence are endlessly fascinating to observe. You may even hear them before you see them. Hearing their chorus of vocalizations called pant-hooting at close range is a spine-tingling experience that will etched on your mind forever.
Our Suggested Itineraries Featuring Uganda Chimpanzee Trekking Tours
At Tulambule, we offer complete Uganda chimpanzee trekking packages, tours, trips, holidays, and vacations. Some of our tour packages features sole chimpanzee destination. But chimpanzee 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, gorilla trekking, and cultural encounters.
- 1 Day Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Tour
- 2 Day Uganda Chimpanzee Trekking Tour, Kibale Forest
- 3 Day Chimpanzee Trekking Safari Uganda, Kibale National Park
- 4-Day Gorillas, Kalinzu Chimps Trek and Wildlife Safari
- 5 Days Uganda Gorillas, Chimps, Wildlife, & Cultural Tour – View This Tour
- 6 Days Uganda Safari, Chimps, Gorillas, & Wildlife
- 7 Days Uganda Safari, Gorillas, Chimp, Wildlife, Community, & Lake Bunyonyi – View This Tour
- 8 Days Uganda Gorillas, Chimps, Wildlife, & Community Tour – View This Tour
- 10 Days Uganda Safari, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Game Viewing & Community Tours – View This Tour
- 12 Days Uganda Safari, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Wildlife, Culture, & Relaxation – View This Tour
- 14 Days Uganda Safari, Gorillas, Chimps, Wildlife, Scenery, & Local Culture Experiences – View This Tour
- 16 Days Uganda Safari – Gorilla, Chimps, Wildlife, Scenery, Culture, & Source of the Nile Tour – View This Tour
- 18 Days Uganda Safari & Gorilla Trekking – View This Tour
- 21 Days Uganda Safari & Adventure Vacation – View This Tour
Kibale National Park – The Best Place For Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda
About 300,000 chimpanzees left on Earth in the equatorial forests of Africa. And Kibale Forest National Park is home to over 1500 of them.
Kibale is the easiest and best place for Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda and Africa at large. Kibale Forest Chimp treks take place in the mornings (8 am) and afternoons (2 pm). Treks typically last 2-5 hours with up to 1 hour spent with the chimps.
The cost of the permit for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale is US$200 per person. This is a fraction of the US$700 and US$1500 price tags for gorilla permits at Uganda’s Bwindi Forest and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park respectively.
If you want a more in-depth, personal immersion, Kibale also offers a habituation experience. On this unique adventure, you spend a full day (US$250) following one of the communities currently undergoing the two-year habituation process.
Other Places Where You See Chimpanzees in Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park might be the most popular place for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda but it’s far from the only option. For alternative Uganda chimpanzee trekking tours check out these other parks and forest reserves:
1. Kalinzu Forest Reserve
The next best alternative for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is Kalinzu Forest. Kalinzu is an ecotourism site located just outside Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The total price for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest is only US$50.
The forest reserve hosts a population of about 300 chimps of which a 40-member community has been habituated for trekking adventures.
2. Budongo Forest Reserve
The Budongo Forest Reserve has a population of over 800 chimpanzees.
The forest is located in the northwest of Uganda. Tracking chimps in Budongo forest is best done as add on to the Uganda wildlife safari in Murchison Falls National Park.
The tracking permit costs USD 130. Two- to four-hour chimp-tracking trips run daily.
3. Queen Elizabeth National Park
The rolling golden savannah grasslands and lush forests of Queen Elizabeth National Park are most famous for their tree-climbing lions and the hundreds of hippos that wallow in the Kazinga Channel waters.
Not well known is the national park’s population of chimps that reside in the 100 meter-deep forested Kyambura Gorge. Although these chimpanzees are habituated to humans, there is no guarantee they will show up for you. But, when they do, the low number of visitors means you will probably have them much to yourself. The chimpanzee tracking for Kyambura Gorge is USD 50.
4. Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Okay, so seeing Chimpanzees at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is hardly a genuine wilderness encounter.
But if time is limited and you are confined to the Kampala or Entebbe region then visit Ngamba Island in Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest lake and the world’s largest tropical lake.
Ngamba is a reached by a short boat cruise from Entebbe city. The Island is home to around 52 orphaned or rescued chimps. You can also see Chimpanzees at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre/Entebbe Zoo.
Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda – FAQs
1. Why Should I Choose Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda?
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is completely different from the typical Africa safari experience. As chimps live in rainforest, the only access to them is by foot. Chimp trekking is active. It usually involves hiking for several hours to watch chimpanzees up close. Uganda chimpanzee trekking tours provides people a welcome break from savannah game drives.
Observing these great primates at a close proximity on foot is an amazing encounter, almost on a par with a gorilla trek. You’ll be thrilled by how intelligent they’re their poses, expressions. and interactions that might be almost human.
2. How Fit Do I Need To Be To Go Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda?
You’ll need to be reasonably fit to go chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, though every day is different. Some days, the trek is more difficult than other days. Chimpanzees have big territories. And you might be lucky to find them after 30 minutes or it might take 2 hours.
You get to spend a maximum of one hour with the chimpanzees. And this experience is very variable too. They might be stationary, feeding or resting or they might be on the move.
Contrary to gorillas, chimps 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.
3. How Close Can I Get To The Uganda Chimpanzees?
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 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.
4. What Do Uganda Chimpanzee Trekking Tour Packages Cost?
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.
5. 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.
The gorilla trekking destination of Virunga National Park in Congo (DRC) offers chimpanzee trekking too. The park is also home to an active volcano which can be hiked and usually visited as an add-on trip from Rwanda and Uganda. But because of low numbers of visitors, the chimpanzees here are less habituated.
6. Are Chimp Sightings Guaranteed On A Uganda Chimpanzee Trekking Tours?
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 National Park, 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%.
7. Is Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda Safe?
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is a very safe adventure.
The chimps are habituated. They know that humans pose no threat to them. You’ll be given a safety briefing before you head out on a chimpanzee trek.
And one of the rules is to maintain the recommended 8 m/26 ft distance from the chimps. It’s also not wise to imitate their calls. While it might seem fun to mimic them, if you’re not careful you might accidentally end up recreating a battle cry and bring 200 angry chimpanzees down upon you.
Once you’ve been briefed, you’re separated into groups of up to 6, each accompanied by a guide, who is armed in case of emergencies. As long as you listen to the instructions given by your guide, you’ll have nothing to worry about. Moreover, Uganda as a country is a safe travel destination. Crime in any of the parks or reserves is very rare. More information on safety in Uganda
8. How Do Uganda Chimpanzee & 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. Gorillas are the world’s largest living primates. 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.