Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Uganda is truly an adorable tourist destination. Not only is she rich in wildlife species but also primates. Uganda has over 20 primate species-the most famous being the mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park plus chimpanzees in Kibale National Park.
After gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking is the second most popular tourist activity in Uganda. Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda can be undertaken in four chimpanzee sanctuaries; Kibale National Park, Budongo Forest Reserve, Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu Forest.
Kibale National Park
Of the four chimpanzee trekking destinations, Kibale National Park is the premier chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda due to the highest population of chimps (about 1,500) thus enabling easy sightings of these awesome apes. Other than chimps, Kibale Forest also hosts 12 primate species including the black-and-white colobus, red-colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, blue monkeys, Ugandan mangabey, and olive baboons among others.
Budongo Forest Reserve
Located within Murchison Falls National Park, Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest is done in Kaniyo Pabidi. The forest reserve inhabits over 600 chimpanzees. Just like in Kibale National Park, two excursions are done daily; one in the morning at 08:00 am and the other in the afternoon at 02:00 pm.
The trekking in Budongo is much easier compared to Kibale since the terrain is flatter. Also, the chimpanzee permits here are cheaper compared to that in Kibale. Kibale National Park beats Kaniyo Pabidi due to the large population of chimps thus making it more reliable.
Nicknamed “the valley of apes”, Kyambura gorge located in the far East of Queen Elizabeth National Park is the 3rd most popular chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda. Kyambura gorge inhabits about 30 chimpanzees, making it more difficult to see them. Nevertheless, the trekking is so rewarding due to the sights and sounds of different forest species as you descend the valley.
Situated just outside Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu forest provides a better chimpanzee trekking opportunity compared to Kyambura gorge. The forest has more chimpanzees concentrated within a relatively small area thus increasing the probability of seeing them. Kalinzu forest is home to about 300 chimpanzees.
Other destinations to see chimpanzees
In captivity, chimpanzees in Uganda can also be seen in Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Lake Victoria where orphaned and injured chimpanzees are taken care of. Chimpanzees can also be found at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre formerly called Entebbe zoo.
Cost of a chimpanzee permit
Travelers interested in chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park can do so by purchasing a tracking permit. Chimpanzee tracking permit costs 200 USD for Foreign Non-Residents, 150 USD for Foreign Residents, and 150,000UGX for East African Community Citizens. A chimpanzee tracking permit allows trekkers up to an hour in the presence of the chimpanzees. On the other hand, the chimpanzee habituation permit goes for 250 USD for both Foreign Non-Residents and Foreign Residents. East African Community Citizens pay 200,000UGX for the chimpanzee habituation permit. The chimpanzee habituation permit allows trekkers a full day in the presence of the chimpanzees.
These tracking permits can be booked through a trusted and reliable tour operator or directly from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.