Chimpanzees share 98% of human genes making them our closest living relatives and an interesting species to observe. Chimps are found in 21 countries throughout Africa but are most easily sighted in Uganda due to their dense populations of close to 5,000 individuals. Kibale Forest National Park is the travellers’ favourite for chimpanzee tracking but our cousins can also be observed in Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls NP and Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park.
What Is Chimpanzee Tracking?
Chimpanzee Tracking (sometimes called chimpanzee trekking) is the hiking activity of tracking a family band of habituated chimpanzees, following and observing them while they go on their daily activities. This is possible with a guide and an armed security guard in your presence to avoid getting lost or being harmed by a naughty chimp.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale Forest
Kibale National Park is the first choice for chimpanzee tracking in Uganda. This park has a record of thirteen species of primates and several monkey species, which is the highest number for any National Park in Uganda. Birds and butterflies are abundant, and several beautiful forest-fringed crater lakes lie within a few kilometres of the park boundary.
A number of Chimpanzee bands here have been habituated for human contact and especially chimpanzee tracking. Chimpanzee habituation is a delicate process that is used to make these largely wild apes approachable by human beings without causing any mayhem.
Kibale National Park is favoured for chimp tracking and nature walks not only due to its endowment with wildlife but also it’s relatively flat terrain that is easy to trek. The park is also well optimized for trekking with well laid out trail networks. And both luxury and budget accommodation is readily accessible within and near Kibale Forest.
Chimps in Kyambura Gorge
Kyambura Gorge is part of Kyambura Game Reserve that is found within the popular and exciting savannas of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is located on the northeast side of the park, 30km from the park headquarters.
Kyambura Gorge is renowned for its primate population and the only place with habituated chimpanzees in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Other notable primates one can also view in Kyambura Gorge are the red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white Colobus, baboons and vervet monkeys.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kaniyo Pabidi – Budongo Forest
Budongo Forest Reserve is 793 square kilometres and closes to 53 percent is forest and the rest grassland. Found in Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo Forest boasts of high biodiversity of 24 species (small animals) of that, 9 species are primates, 465 species of trees and shrubs, 359 species of birds, 289 species of butterflies and 130 species of moths. The forest is renowned for its high number of mahogany trees and chimpanzees. The forest is believed to contain some 600 – 700 chimpanzees.
Budongo has two reserved eco-tourism sites—Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro. Both of these sites have trail networks and are inhabited by habituated chimpanzees that are available for chimpanzee tracking activities.
You get an up-close view of the mahogany trees, ironwood trees and other vegetation. In addition to the chimpanzees and other primate species such as monkeys, one can also view several bird species such as Chocolate-backed kingfisher, the White-thighed Hornbill and Puvel’s illadopsis found nowhere else in East Africa. The area is relatively flat, making it great for hiking and chimpanzee tracking.
Chimpanzee Tracking Costs
Chimpanzee Tracking Permit in Kibale Forest costs US$200 for non-residents, US$150 for foreign national residents, and UGX150,000 for East Africans.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo and Kyambura costs US$50 for non-residents, US$50 for foreign national residents, and UGX30,000 for East Africans.
For US$220, for a chimp enthusiast, we would recommend you take on a chimpanzee habituation experience.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
With chimp habituation experience you have a chance to spend the whole day with these primates rather than spending just 60 minutes for chimpanzee tracking of $200.
Read more about CHEX here
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