Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

Overview - About Chimpanzees

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda offers an amazing encounter with man’s closest relative. Chimpanzees belong to the family of great apes which include gorillas and orangutans. They have large brains and are very intelligent with great ability to learn new things. 

There are two distinct species of chimpanzee, the common chimpanzee which live in West, East, Central and Southern Africa and the pygmy chimpanzee (known as Bonobo)commonly  found in Congo’s jungles and sanctuaries. The common chimpanzee is larger weighing up to 70kgs, more aggressive with communities led by a dominant male. Bonobos are smaller, more peaceful with communities led by  female leaders. Both species can live up to 30 years in the wild and 60 in captivity.

Ugandan Chimpanzee

98% DNA Human

Permit Cost

Range between $100 - $ 1500

Best Time to Go

Between June to Sept and Dec to Jan.

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Uganda has some of  the best places to track chimpanzee in the world. It has one of the largest population and variety of places to track chimpanzees with over 5600 chimpanzee in the wild with a sizeable number of communities habituated.

Uganda’s chimps are commonly found living in small forests on private land in some areas. Chimpanzees in Uganda can be tracked from Kibale National Park, Budongo forest (in Murchison Falls National Park), Kyambura Gorge (Queen Elizabeth National Park), Kalinzu Forest and Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Visitors can also spot chimpanzee in zoos and sanctuaries like Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Uganda Wildlife Education Center

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Destinations For Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

Kibale Forest: 

The best place to track chimpanzees in East Africa is in Kibale Forest. The forest houses several species of primates and has a chimpanzee population of about 30 percent of the overall chimpanzee population in Uganda.

Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest is done twice a day: in the morning at 8 a.m. and in the afternoon at 2 p.m. The chances of seeing a chimpanzee community in Kibale are very high, at over 90 percent. There are three habituated communities across Kibale National Park. One community has been set apart for tourists, while the other two are for researchers also accompanied by birding tours and other wildlife viewing. Some of the wildlife that can be spotted while tracking chimpanzees in the forest includes buffaloes, elephants, antelopes, bush pigs, otters, and giant forest hogs.
Kibale Forest also has a chance to experience full-day chimpanzee habituation with one of the chimpanzee communities. Permits for tracking chimpanzees in Kibale Forest are more expensive than any other place in Uganda at $250. 

Chimpanzee habituation permits will cost one $300. For those who are organizing their trip by themselves, the permits can be acquired by emailing or calling staff from the Uganda Wildlife Authority office – try to book in advance. There are some discounts during certain months of the year. 

Kalinzu Forest

Its located outside Queen Elizabeth National park is arguably the second best place to track chimpanzee in Uganda where the probability of seeing chimpanzee is higher in Kalinzu forest. The sheer density and concentration of chimps in a relatively small area raises the possibility of finding them to over 90 percent. 

Chimpanzee Trekking

Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest is managed by the Uganda ministry of forestry. Because of different management, a chimpanzee tracking permit costs $50 which is far less than at Kibale. Moreover, the minimum age for tracking chimpanzees is 12 years in Kalinzu forest.  The challenge  of tracking chimps here is that there is no good accommodation in the forest except for night camps. 

Budongo Forest
Chimpanzee Trekking

its of one the best place to track chimpanzees in Uganda. Budongo forest is found within the Murchison falls national park – reaching the park takes 3 hours of driving from Kampala. The natural mahogany trees found in the forest provides perfect shelter for these amazing apes and other primates. About 100 habituated chimpanzees are available for tracking at Kaniyo Pabibi out of the total chimp population.  

Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo starts at 7 am for the morning session and 2 pm for the afternoon session. The best time to track chimpanzee in Budongo is between the months of May and August which are rainy seasons. During the dry season, the chimps move deep into the forest looking for scarce food, water and shelter. which reduces the chances of seeing them . Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo can be arranged alongside a wildlife safari to the Murchison falls national park. Chimpanzee permits cost $130 in Budongo.

Kyambura Gorge
Chimpanzee Trekking

Kyambura Gorge offers visitors a rare opportunity to go for a full safari combining chimpanzee trekking with birding, a game drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, and gorilla tracking at the nearby Bwindi impenetrable national park. The Kyambura Gorge, which is 16km long and about 100 meters deep with a thick underground forest, is famous for its large concentration of primates like baboons, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, and colobus monkeys. Although the population of chimpanzees here is quite small about 30, tracking chimpanzees at Kyambura Gorge has two advantages. Kyambura Gorge is located within Uganda’s most visited national park and is one of the places where the park animals gather to drink, offering a chance to see other primates and Africa’s largest mammals.

Tracking chimpanzee at Kyambura Gorge provides a visitor with a rare opportunity to go for a full safari combining chimpanzee trekking with birding, a game drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, and gorilla tracking at the nearby Bwindi impenetrable national park. Some of the bird species found at the Kyambura Gorge include the blue-headed bee-eater, falcons, and African finfoot. One disadvantage of tracking chimpanzees at the Kyambura Gorge is that the probability of seeing them is low compared to Kibale or Kalinzu. The small chimpanzee community often moves deep into the underground forest, making it harder to find them on certain days. A chimpanzee permit costs $80 at the Kyambura gorge.

FAQS about Chimp Trekking in Uganda

What is the age limit for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda?
12 years and Above
According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority policy, rules and regulations, the Minimum age for chimpanzee tracking is 12 years, any children below the age of 12 years are considered minors and are not allowed to trek the chimpanzees in Kibale National Park and all chimpanzee destinations in Uganda.
Is it safe to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?
How fit do you need to be for Uganda gorilla trekking?

Semuliki Wildlife Reserve: 
Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is located near the border between Uganda and DR Congo and has a population of about 260 chimps living in 3 communities. 

Ngamba Island: 
This is a small but forested island on Lake Victoria which was turned into a chimpanzee sanctuary for rescued chimps all over Uganda. There are over 40 chimpanzees being cared for in the island. Ngamba Island is not designed for standard chimp tracking.  Visitors and families with children are allowed to see the chimps from a secure raised platform as they come to feed three times a day.

The Uganda Wildlife Education Center: 
 Over 40 chimpanzees can be seen here from enclosures by tourists and families with children. As you Plan a a trip, Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda is one of the Activities you will not miss out at the Edaucation centre.

Chimpanzee Trekking & Gorillas Trekking :

Which is Better?

  • Gorilla trekking organizers maintain a highly organized approach, ensuring a high likelihood of encountering mountain gorillas, while sightings of chimpanzees are less guaranteed due to the more scattered nature of their communities across various countries in East, Central, and West Africa.
  • Chimpanzees inhabit relatively flat terrain, while mountain gorillas reside in mountainous regions and slopes, presenting different challenges during tracking.
  • Chimpanzees predominantly move among tree canopies, while gorillas primarily stay on the forest floor.
  • Trackers must constantly follow the agile and mobile chimpanzees, whereas mountain gorillas often relax in forest clearings, offering an exciting and less strenuous experience for many.
  • Capturing clear photos of chimps is challenging due to their constant movement and arboreal lifestyle.
  • Chimpanzees are vocal during tracking, whereas mountain gorillas typically feed and play quietly.
  • Locating a chimpanzee community generally takes less time than finding a gorilla group.
  • Trekking sessions can occur twice daily for chimpanzees but only once a day for gorillas.
  • Chimpanzee communities frequently split into smaller groups to search for food before reuniting, leading to potential confusion for trackers if subgroups return to the main community. Mountain gorilla groups remain relatively stable with ample food sources.
  • There’s a one-hour limit for observing mountain gorilla groups, whereas visitors can spend more time with chimpanzee communities depending on the location and country.
  • A maximum of 8 people can observe a gorilla family daily, while 6 people can observe a chimpanzee community across two shifts.
  • Permits are required for both activities, with gorilla permits being significantly more expensive than chimpanzee permits.
  • Visitors planning to participate in both chimpanzee and gorilla tracking must usually be 15 years or older.

Rules and Regulations for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Tracking chimpanzees requires following some rules and  guidelines: some are listed below

  1. Book your chimpanzee permit in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  2.  Children are not allowed to track chimpanzees.
  3.  Avoid littering the forest while tracking chimpanzees.
  4. It is not recommended to track chimpanzees while suffering from flu and diarrhea since chimps are susceptible to human diseases.
  5.  Maintain a distance of about 8 meters when near the chimpanzees.
  6. Refrain from eating while near the chimpanzees, as they may violently grab food from you.
  7. Avoid talking too loudly, making fun of, or trying to intimidate/provoke chimpanzees.
  8. Flash photography is prohibited.
  9. Always adhere to instructions from the forest guides.
  10. Use the bathroom before heading out for trekking.
  11. Never track chimpanzees without a guide.
  12. Smoking while tracking chimps is not allowed.
  13. There is a limit to how many people can track a chimpanzee community in a day.

Safety Package List for chimpanzee tracking in Uganda

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda requires careful planning with your tour company beforehand to ensure a comfortable, memorable, and stress-free experience. Here’s a list of gear and equipment you’ll need:

1. Suitable Shoes: Choose shoes with good grip for navigating muddy terrain and steep areas.
2. Appropriate Clothing: Wear long-sleeved clothes to protect yourself from sharp thickets and be prepared for unpredictable weather with a rain jacket.
3. Packed Snacks and Drinking Water: Bring along snacks and water for sustenance along the way.
4. Binoculars: Don’t miss any details – these powerful apes love swinging from tree to tree.
5. Insect Repellent: Protect yourself from insects with repellent.
6. Camera and Extra Batteries: Capture the moment with a good camera and sharp lenses; avoid flash photography.
7. Walking Stick: Use a walking stick to navigate steep and rough terrain more steadily.
8. Porters: Consider hiring porters from parks or reserves to carry heavy equipment and bags, allowing you to focus on spotting chimps and other creatures.

With the right gear and preparation, your chimpanzee tracking adventure in Uganda will be unforgettable.