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Where to trek chimpanzees in Uganda

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Chimpanzee Trekking is notably Uganda’s most sought after safari activity. Chimpanzees, just like their cousins, mountain gorillas are one of the endangered and rare primate species, commonly found in Uganda’s rainforests.

Chimpanzees are known to be one of the few ape species close to human beings, sharing up to 98% similar to that of man.

While exploring Uganda, don’t forget to include a visit to some of the prime destinations for chimpanzee trekking is Uganda. The most popular destination where you can see chimpanzees is Kibale Forest National Park, a park that also hosts other primates including a variety of monkey species.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National park

Kibale Forest is located about 30 minutes from Fort Portal, cleanest town in Uganda, taking approximately 4.5 – 5 hours from Kampala along Mityana-Mubende highway. From Kampala, Kibale forest national park makes it possible to do chimp tracking tour just in 2 days, however for more comfort and luxury, you can spread it out and make it slightly more relaxed 3-day safari.

The park is perfectly nestled amidst rolling romantic hills of lush, tea plantations and is a beautiful area to just chill out with a book or take some walks through the surrounding craters or nearby Bigodi Swamp (5km from the forest).

Chimpanzee trekking lasts between four and eight hours and how much you walk and how deep you penetrate into the forest depends on luck, and a little on the skills of your UWA guide. They warn you at the outset that there is a chance you may see nothing but be sure of seeing at least one of the habituated groups at some point, with up to 95% chances of having a glimpse on chimps.

Budongo forest reserve

Budongo Forest is situated approximately 320km northwest of the capital city Kampala on the southern outskirts of the famous Murchison Falls National Park. This boasts to be the biggest Mahogany forest in East Africa as well as home to the numerous numbers of chimpanzees in Uganda.

Budongo Forest is a habitat to about 600 -700 chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes schweinfurthii). Since the 1960s, chimpanzees of Budongo forest have continuously been studied under the arrangement of Budongo Forest Conservation Field Station.

Chimpanzee groups in Budongo forest

There is a total of three chimpanzee groups which have been fully habituated and opened for trekking by tourists on a daily basis. Many other groups are still under habituation.

Groups in Budongo forest include; – Kaniyo-Pabidi Community, Sonso Community, Waibira Community, Busingiro community, Nature Reserve community and the Waisoke community.

Kalinzu forest

Kalinzu Forest Reserve is another prominent home to the world’s most sought after primates – the Chimpanzees. Kalinzu is found near Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwest of Uganda.

Kalinzu forest reserve is a renowned spot for chimpanzee trekking tours, second to Kibale national park. Kalinzu forest reserve boasts a total of about 300 chimpanzees, with about 40 fully habituated by Japanese researchers two years back. This makes visitors stand a high chance of seeing the chimpanzees while on a tour to Kalinzu Forest Reserve. What makes Kalinzu more remarkable is because its chimpanzee permits are cheaper than anywhere else in Uganda;

Apart from chimpanzees, Kalinzu Forest Reserve has other primates that will bring fun to your nature walks through the forest. Kalinzu forest reserve is home to a huge number of baboons, monkeys; blue monkeys, the black and white monkey, L’hoest’s, the red tailed Colobus monkeys.

Other residents of this forest include mammals, such as blue and red duiker, waterbuck, bushbuck, giant forest hog, elephants and buffaloes.

It is also host to over 97 moths, 262 butterflies, numerous bird species, flowers and reptiles.

Kyambura gorge

The Kyambura Gorge experience is more than discovering chimpanzees in their natural environment: it exposes visitors to the varied ecosystems of Kyambura Gorge’s atmospheric “underground” rainforest, including vegetation types, bird identification and behavior and chimp and monkey ecology.

 The dramatic Kyambura Gorge is situated on the eastern side of the park, 35kms from the park headquarters and offers visitors great chances of combining a sensational wildlife tour as well as chimpanzee trekking tours.

Although chimp sightings are not guaranteed, visitors still stand a pretty good chance of hearing and seeing at least a habituated troop of these humans’ closest cousins. Kyambura chimpanzee tracking tours last between one and three hours, morning session begin at 8am, while the afternoon session begin at 2pm daily.

Requirements for Chimpanzee Trekking tour in Uganda

  • A few snacks of your preference
  • A light, small day pack for personal items
  • Durable, water-proof boots with good traction in case of muddy slopes
  • To take lots of amazing photos, but remember – no flash!
  • Insect repellants.
  • Durable, rain jacket.

Best Time to visit Uganda for chimpanzee tracking.

Straddling the equator, there is little temperature fluctuation in Uganda throughout the year, with average temperatures ranging between 20 degrees to 27 degrees Celsius. It is quite humid, especially in the mountainous areas where most chimp trekking tours take place.

The best months for chimpanzee trekking are April through to May, during rainy season when there’s less tourist congestion. But remember this is a forest where you can expect rain any time of the day.

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