Are you looking for Uganda chimpanzee tracking and habituation experiences? Well, Uganda is a very fascinating destination with lots of primates and a diversity of wildlife species. Most travelers term the country as a capital of primates in Africa.
Chimp tracking safari is one of the most notable wildlife experiences in Uganda that every traveler would wish to book for everlasting memories.
Uganda has three major chimpanzee tracking destinations that is to say Kibale forest national park, Murchison falls national park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. However, other sites to spot chimps include; Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Kalizu forest. Kibale forest national park is the best place in Uganda to go for chimpanzee tracking because the forest has highest chimp population; travelers can spot them with ease.
Chimpanzee tracking normally takes three hours including the full hour visitors stay with them. During this experience, guests encounter several other primates and a number of beautiful bird species. Upon encounter, you are advised to keep a distance of 8-10 metres, explore the behavior of chimps, intelligence, and their social structures.
Besides chimp tracking, guests can opt to go for chimpanzee habituation which is a full immersive experience where you can join a team of researchers for a half or full day excursion deep into the forest. Please note that chimps are less used to human presence and so the experience is more unpredictable.
The main difference between the normal chimpanzee treks and habituation experience is about the time you spend with the chimps. Chimpanzee habituation experience allows visitors to spend more time with the chimps than the standard chimp trekking tours.
Travelers who book chimp habituation experiences for the full day, join the chimps from when they break nests at about 06:30 until they nest again for the night at about 19:00.
The chimpanzee habituation experience (CHEX) gives travelers an opportunity to spend a half-day or full-day before the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest.
Habituation is the process of introducing chimpanzees to get used to humans in order to be more comfortable in their presence. In time, these chimpanzee families can be tracked a normal chimpanzee trek. This activity gives traveler and rangers more time to learn about the behavior of chimps. The process of chimp habituation takes at least three years to complete.
Chimpanzee habituation experience is exclusively done in Kibale forest national park and Budongo forest in Uganda. CHEX is more challenging than a normal chimpanzee trek because non-habituated families live in deeper and thick forests; away from the busier trails, and they move more quickly to new locations.
Visitors on habituation experience see chimps carry out their day-to-day activities ie hunting, feeding, patrolling the area, resting, and caring for their young ones of the family.
A chimpanzee habituation experience is the best way to capture nice photographs and also allows travelers to get close to identify individuals by their distinct markings and personalities.
The price of chimpanzee habituation experience is $250 per person per trek and slightly expensive than the standard chimpanzee tracking which costs $200 per permit per trek.
Where can I trek chimpanzees in Uganda?
A number destinations are available in Uganda for chimpanzee trekking experiences; however, we bring you details on the best places to go for chimp safaris and tours.
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale forest national park is a home to over 1,500 chimpanzees and Kibale is the major destination for chimpanzee trekking safaris and tours in Uganda. The park is located south west of Uganda and can be easily accessed from either Entebbe or Kampala through Kampala-Mityana-Mubende-Fortportal road.
The park has excellent chimpanzee population; it is referred to as a “capital of primates”. The chances of chimpanzee sightings in Kibale forest national park stand at 90%. The park is strategically located in western region and travelers can easily connect to either Queen Elizabeth national park of Murchison falls national park for wildlife viewing. You can also visit other destinations like lake Mburo national park and Bwindi forest national park from Kibale forest.
Chimpanzee tracking trips in Kibale forest national park depart twice a day that is to say; at 08:00 and 14:00. Most tour operators opt for morning schedules because they normally combined an afternoon visit to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary or extend their adventure to Queen Elizabeth national park for other activities like community visits, evening game drives and boat cruise.
Kibale forest chimpanzee tracking permits are obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Budongo Forest Reserve in Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national reserve in Uganda covering an area of 3,893 km². The park features a number of activities such as game drives, sport fishing, cruises, chimpanzee trekking, hikes to the top of the falls and sundowners at boutique lodges overlooking the dotted magnificent savannah.
In the south of Murchison falls national park, we find the Budongo Forest Reserve which is a beautiful and is an excellent spot for chimpanzee tracking safaris.
The rate of chimpanzee sightings in Budongo forest stands at 80% which is higher than that of Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Budongo chimpanzee tracking permits can be purchased through the National Forestry Authority.
Tracking can be done in both afternoon and morning hours in a group of 3 individuals. Please note that 18 tourists can be allowed to traveler in every session.
The standard chimpanzee tracking safari in Budongo forest takes 3 hours and chimp encounter is usually made after only an hour of forest walk. A full day chimpanzee habituation experience is also available for adventurer travelers seeking for an extended chimpanzee encounter.
Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park is another popular destination for chimp tracking safaris in Uganda. The gorge delightfully hidden cleft in the surface of the otherwise flat savannah bordering the “medley of wonders”. Kyambura gorge is also referred to as “the valley of the apes”.
Trackers are led by an experienced ranger guide from Ugandan Wildlife Authority to look for chimps. During your trail, you may encounter other primates like vervet monkeys and so many bird species.
A total number of 17 chimps live in Kyambura gorge and the chances of spotting the chimpanzees stand at 60%. The sights and sounds of the forest make the entire experience magical and rewarding. Kyambura chimpanzee trekking permits can be purchased directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
A trip to Kyambura Gorge is normally an extension of a safari to Queen Elizabeth national park after the amazing game drives, boat cruises, and the Ishasha tree climbing tour.
Best time to go chimpanzee trekking in Uganda
Uganda can be visited throughout the year for primate safaris however; If you are looking for the best time to book chimpanzee tracking safari in Uganda is during the dry season that runs from June to September and December to February. The country is endowed with equatorial type of climate hence temperatures are normally consistent throughout the year.
The high season in Uganda happened during the dry season; rates for accommodation tend to go high due to high demand. Also, visitors enjoy the most comfortable trekking experiences because trails tend to be dry to make tourist move through the deep African jungles with ease.
The wet season in Uganda happens from March to May; this is regarded as a long rainy season while the short rainy season occurs from October to November. For budget travelers and price sensitive travelers, this is the best time to travel to Uganda for chimp tracking because most lodges offer discounted prices during this time.
In conclusion, chimpanzee trekking is best done in the dry seasons of June to September and December to February. The clear and sunny weather makes your trek more enjoyable and fascinating