Where to Track Chimpanzees in Uganda

Uganda is truly an adorable tourist destination. Not only is she rich in wildlife species but also primates. Uganda has over 20 primates species-the most famous being the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Kibale National Park respectively.

Chimpanzee trekking destinations in Uganda

After mountain gorillas, chimpanzees are another iconic tourist attraction in Uganda which attracts a multitude of travelers from all over the world to come for chimpanzee trekking in four chimpanzee sanctuaries; Kibale National Park, Budongo Forest Reserve, Kyambura gorge, and Kalinzu.

Kibale National Park

Of the four chimpanzee sanctuaries, Kibale National Park is the premier chimpanzee trekking destination. This is attributed to the highest population of chimpanzees (about 1,500) thus enabling easy sighting of these awesome apes.

Other than chimpanzees, Kibale Forest also hosts 12 primate species including the black-and-white colobus, olive baboons, Ugandan mangabey, red colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, and blue monkeys among others thus making it the park with the highest diversity of primates in Uganda.

Budongo Forest Reserve

Located within Murchison Falls National Park, chimpanzee tracking in Budongo is done in Kaniyo Pabidi. Just like Kibale National Park, two excursions are undertaken daily; one in the morning at 08:00 am and the other at 02:00 pm.

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is much easier compared to Kibale since the terrain is flatter. Also, the chimpanzee permits here are cheaper. About 700 chimpanzees live in Budongo. Kibale National Park beats Kaniyo Pabidi due to the large population of chimps thus making it more reliable.

Kyambura Gorge

Nicknamed “the valley of apes”, Kyambura Gorge located in the far East of Queen Elizabeth National Park inhabits about 30 chimpanzees thus making it more difficult to see these primates. Nevertheless, the trekking is so rewarding due to the sights and sounds of various forest species as you descend the valley.

Kalinzu Forest

Situated just outside Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu forest provides a better opportunity for chimpanzee trekking compared to Kyambura gorge. The forest has more chimpanzees concentrated within a relatively small area thus increasing the probability of seeing them. There are about 300 chimpanzees in the Kalinzu forest.

Other chimpanzee sanctuaries

In captivity, chimpanzees in Uganda can also be seen in the Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary on Lake Victoria and 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 chimpanzee tracking permit. A chimpanzee tracking permit in Kibale National Park costs 200 USD for Foreign Non-Residents, 150 USD for Foreign Residents, and 150,000UGX for Ugandans and East African Community citizens. On the other hand, the chimpanzee habituation permit costs 250usd for both Foreign Non-Residents and Foreign Residents while Ugandans and East African Community citizens pay 200,000UGX. The chimpanzee tracking permit allows up to an hour in the presence of the chimpanzees while the chimpanzee habituation permit allows trekkers to spend a full day watching the chimps.

Chimpanzee tracking permits can be booked through a reliable tour operator or directly from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park can be done either in the morning at 08:00 am or afternoon from 02:00 pm. Trekkers usually prefer the morning trekking hours so as to include the Bigodi Swamp Walk in the afternoon. The final say is always with the trekker