Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
Uganda is the highest primate habitat in Africa with about 20 primate species. Of these, 13 are diurnal and 7 are nocturnal species. The most sought-after in this list are the mountain gorillas and the chimpanzees of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Kibale National Park respectively.
Travelers who intend to undertake primate safaris and tours visit Uganda for mainly gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking. Not very common and yet more fascinating among these activities are the exciting gorilla habituation and chimpanzee habituation activities.
Chimpanzee habituation is the gradual process of introducing/making wild chimpanzees familiar and comfortable with human presence. Other than the standard chimp tracking, travelers interested in spending more time with the chimps opt for the chimp habituation activity.
Chimp habituation is more strenuous compared to chimp tracking because it’s a half-day experience where trackers have to walk deeper into the forest where the non-habituated chimps live and the activity is exclusive to Kibale National Park. The park is home to 13 primate species of which about 1,500 are chimps.
During chimpanzee habituation, trackers join primatologists, researchers, and rangers as they go into the forest to meet the chimps and the activity is limited to only four people per group, inclusive of the researchers. The activity starts as early as 6:00 am when the chimps are leaving their overnight nests. You will watch them descend the trees and come to the ground to feed, copulate, breastfeed, play and go about their daily routine until 12:00 pm when they climb back to the trees to rest.
Chimp habituation takes about 3 years for the chimps to get fully accustomed to human presence. The chimpanzee habituation permit costs 250 USD and the fee caters to the guide and entrance to the park. It is always advisable that visitors book their chimpanzee habituation permits in advance.
Best time for Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is an all-year-round activity. However, for the best experience, it is recommended to undertake it during the wet season in the months of March, April, May, and November.
During this time, there is plenty of food for the chimps and therefore they do not move deep in the forest thus making it easier for the trackers to locate them. However, this season receives a lot of rainfall therefore it’s advisable to carry warm clothing, a waterproof polythene bag to protect your equipment like cameras and phones, and a waterproof jacket.
During the dry season, there is less mud thus less difficult to walk through the forest trails in search of the chimpanzees. Unlike mountain gorillas, chimpanzees are very playful and noisy, with occasional loud barks and hoots from dominant males and other members of their community which will lead trackers to where they are thus easier to locate