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Chimpanzee Tracking in Africa : Rwenzori Expeditions.

After Rwenzori Mountaineering tour in Rwenzori Mountains National Park , the available add on include the Chimpanzee Watching which is considered as the 97% Primate that is close to Human being.  Rwenzori Mountaineering tours rewards you a discounted add on like the chimpanzee watching , Gorilla trekking and the famous 19 Days Rwenzori & Chimpanzee Watching in Uganda.

Chimpanzee Tracking Safari in Uganda.

Is chimpanzee tracking safari in Uganda worth after Rwenzori Trekking? Definitely we’re quite curios—yes, we would like to know. Of course, we think it’s the best safari idea ever in Africa after gorilla trekking! But we can’t speak for every adventure traveler.

Rwenzori Expeditions has tailored this page to feature the best information concerning the chimpanzee tracking , the best time to visit chimpanzee, Best chimpanzee watching in Uganda, Prices for Chimpanzee watching , Popular primate safaris in Uganda, When to get there and where to stay during your chimpanzee tracking and why add chimpanzee and gorillas in Uganda.

Facts about Chimpanzee Watching in Uganda

Chimpanzee trackingChimpanzee Tracking is an ideal venture where tourists, by the help of arranger guide follow the trail through which the habituated chimpanzee left, and upon meeting them, tourists spend at most 1 hour interacting with them.

Chimpanzees are considered close cousins to humans because of the 98% DNA. They live in large populations of 20-70 individual chimpanzees, and headed by one Alpha Male who controls the whole community or group. Normally male chimps often remain within the society within which they are born while the females tend to leave for the neighboring group during Adolescence.

Chimpanzees are omnivores who consume a variety of foods like fruits and plants that man eats, and the fruit of fig trees.

Best Chimpanzee Tracking Destinations

Certainly, Africa has few best places left, where you can track chimpanzees that is; Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. Nothing could be further from the truth and a very small percentage of people in Africa have ever come face to face with the chimpanzees in their natural homes.

Due to their great value in Africa,   chimpanzees have been poached to extinction in most areas. Where, some chimpanzees have been replaced by humans from their Natural homes, pushing them out of range of observation, deep into the tangle of leaves and lianas of the rainforest. Until currently, no one had even photographed them undisturbed in their native state.

Now, East and Central Africa has proved to be the best home to track and come up close with chimpanzees. Tourists can spend close to 8 hours a day observing habituated chimpanzee troops in large swathes of the forest of DR Congo and the more accessible destinations of Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Chimpanzee Tracking Experience

Chimpanzee tracking in the African rain forest means Coming face to face with the brave and thoughtful chimpanzees in their home. Chimpanzee tracking are genuinely extraordinary experiences and are undeniably unlike any other animal encounter in Africa. It’s still difficult to put into words.

Despite the calm, inactive and vegetarian gorillas, chimpanzees are mobile and majorly omnivores. Chimpanzee tracking can be somewhat exhausting, but impressive experience, especially the force that compels you to keenly keep up on foot as they swing effortlessly through the forest canopy.

Chimpanzees are sociable primates. They live in communities led by an alpha male in partnership with female allies. A few troops have been habituated to the presence of humans: not tamed, but least tolerant of people, usually to a distance of around 8 meters.

To see chimpanzees in their Natural home, you will need to  obtain a chimpanzee tracking permit whose price depends on the destination and are booked prior to the tracking date, you’ll travel to one of the best chimpanzee tracking destinations as listed, stay in one of the safari lodges of your preference.

Chimpanzee tracking start every morning with a briefing at the visitor’s center in small groups of tourists. The tracking experience often lasts between 2 to 6 hours, depending on the location of the habituated chimpanzee community. Visitors are allowed at most 1 hour to interact  chimpanzees, and the quality and intimacy of each sighting can vary highly.

The trek is both easy and challenging depending on the tracking destination, but all chimpanzee trackers must be physically fit and well outfitted for this kind of forest exploration. Chances of seeing chimpanzees in the wild are incredibly high, over 90%.

Good thing; Chimpanzee tracking permits, regardless of the tracking  destination are relatively cheap, compared to the expensive gorilla permits.

Top Places To See Chimpanzees in The Wild

  • Kibale National Park – Uganda
  • Kyambura Gorge – Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
  • Kaniyo Pabidi, Budongo Forest Reserve – Uganda
  • Nyungwe National Park – Rwanda
  • Mahale Mountains National Park – Tanzania
  • Gombe Stream National Park – Tanzania
  1. Kibale National Park – Uganda

Kibale Forest National Park is by far the best primate Capital of the world, where we come face to face with the chimpanzees in their natural home.  The Park is in the South West of Uganda, and has the oldest, as well as the most breathtaking rain forests where the highest number of chimpanzees are ground based.

Situated approximately 330km West Kampala City, Kibale Forest National Park proved to be the best chimpanzee tracking destination where chimpanzees can easily be reached. It’s  a haven to more than 1,400 chimpanzees and also a home to about 13 primate species. Besides chimpanzee tracking, from the chance to spend much more time with the chimps, the day affords better chances to encounter other primate species, such as the vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, L’Hoest’s, and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, endangered red colobus monkeys, and the black-and-white colobus monkey.

Most chimpanzee trackers, book one among the twice-daily, ranger-guided chimpanzee tracking excursions. But chimpanzee interaction is limited to at most one hour of face-to-face encounter with the them, once the guide locates them to avoid provoking stress or transmitting human-borne diseases.

For more Chimpanzee experience, trackers can opt for chimpanzee habituation experience which offers the chance to spend unto 4 hours with the chimpanzees and in company with researchers studying a chimpanzee family that’s undergoing human habituation.

The habituation experience hike can be quite difficult, because chimps move briskly over rugged terrain, dense vegetation, and muddy slopes. On the day of the experience, trackers head out at dawn with the research team to find a chimps community before they leave their nests and spend almost the whole day among them.

How much does a chimpanzee permit cost at Kibale National Park?

Chimpanzee tracking permit costs $200 for Foreign Non Residents, $150 for Foreign Residents, and 150,000 for East African Residents, while chimpanzee habituation goes for $250. All permit fees include guide fee, park entrance Primate Safari Experiences a Ugandan-based safari company, specializing in vacation-specific safaris including primates and wildlife, can arrange park permits and accommodation. Many of the Chimpanzee safaris in Kibale  Forest national Park combine with gorilla trekking adventures in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, about 250 kilometers south of Kibale.

How To Get There

Kibale Forest National Park, can easily be reached by road, through the shortest route from Entebbe/Kampala to the southern part of Fort Portal Town. Either with a driver guide, or you can drive a distance of 300km on Tarmac Kampala to Fort Portal through Mubende town, after which you can proceed murram from Fort Portal to Kanyanchu Visitor center for a 37km distance.

On the other hand, the southern route, although quite longer starts from Kampala, through Mbarara or Kamwenge road to Kibale Forest National Park.

Safari Lodges & Accommodation

Kibale Forest National Park accommodations are impressively amazing, with breathtaking views of the Wildlife and the surrounding nature. Kibale forest National Park is endowed with a wide selection of wildlife lodges/hotels which range from budget to mid-range, and then high-end lodges, which depends on every traveler’s preference. Much of the accommodation facilities are located in the nearby town of Fort portal, while others are right within the park, and the rest on the outskirts of the park.

These collection scenic lodges include; Nyabulitwa country resort & safari camp, Kibale Forest camp, Kibale forest lodge, chimp’s nest, chimpanzee forest guest house, Isunga, Kyaninga lodge, Ndali Lodge, Papaya Lake Lodge, Kanyanchu River camp.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kalinzu Forest.

With about 290 chimpanzee species including 70 habituated ones, Kalinzu Forest which is found outside Queen Elizabeth National Park is probably the second-best place to track chimpanzee in Uganda. Although most visitors to queen Elizabeth National Park first reach Kyambura gorge, Kalinzu Forest, after Kibale Forest National Park still offers the highest chances of seeing chimpanzees in their natural home. The population of chimpanzees in a relatively small enclosure raises the chances of meeting them to more than 90%.

Besides chimpanzees, visitors also have great chances sighting other primates, butterflies, moths, reptiles, flowers and over 410 bird species as they traverse through the four guided trails in the forest, including the sunbird, cuckoos and the Great Blue Turaco.

However, Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest is currently managed by the Uganda ministry of forestry.

Chimpanzee trekking permit in Kalinzu Forest

Like Kibale forest National Park, each tracker must have a chimpanzee tracking permit, in order to track these intelligent primates. Each Kalinzu Forest chimpanzee tracking permit costs $50 per person, per trek, for 1 day. The minimum age for tracking chimpanzees in Kalinzu is 12years and above, below which, is not allowed.

Above all, Kalinzu Forest has scarce accommodation facilities, which usually forces visitors to obtain accommodations near Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Kaniyo Pabidi- Budongo Forest:

Spanning an area of approximately 825 square kilometers and a concentration of more than 800 chimpanzees, Budongo forest is proves to be the third best place to track chimpanzees in Uganda. Budongo forest is in Murchison falls national park.

The virgin mahogany trees in the forest offers an ideal home for these intelligent human cousins as well as other primate species. 100 chimpanzees out of the total population in Kaniyo pabidi are habituated for and made available for tracking, while those who want to spend more hours in the wild with the chimpanzees can take on the chimpanzee habituation Experience in Budongo.

Chimpanzee tracking at Kaniyo pabidi in Budongo forest takes on two sessions per day, that is: the morning session which kick starts at 7 am and the afternoon session at 2 pm, with a

The best time to track chimpanzee in Kaniyo pabidi is during the rainy months of May, June, July and August. While during the dry season, the chimps become scarce as they move into the forest to search for food, water and shelter, thus reducing the chances of seeing them significantly because trackers have to move great distances looking for them.

Apart from chimpanzee trekking in Kaniyo pabidi in Budongo, other activities can also be arranged including game drives, visiting the top of the Nile, boat cruise.

Kyambura Gorge  Chimpanzee tracking

Kyambura gorge is the only home where chimpanzee enthusiasts can come face with the chimpanzees in Queen Elizabeth National Park.  The gorge is known as the “The Valley of Apes” due to the small community of chimpanzees alongside other smaller primates enclosed in the forest therein. The chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge are habituated and hence the only place where tourists can track the primates in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Kyambura Gorge is nestled in a valley inside the Queen Elizabeth National Park,  and secure place to sight chimpanzees while on a safari to the Park. The gorge stretches 16km long and about 100 meters deep with a thick underground forest. The Kyambura Gorge is best known for its large concentration of primates like Baboons, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys and colobus monkeys.

Although the chimpanzee concentration here a little small with about 30 individuals, Kyambura gorge possesses two advantages including; It’s location within Uganda’s most visited national park and secondly, most animals gather up to drink offering a chance to see other primates and Africa’s largest mammals.

While, it major disadvantages is that, its small chimpanzee population, makes it a probability that one may or may not see the chimpanzees, especially when they descend  to the underground forest making it harder to find them on certain days.

Better yet, chimpanzee tracking permits sold at a cost of $50 per person per trek. Chimpanzees at Kyambura Gorge gives every visitor, an incredible opportunity to also head for a full safari combining chimpanzee trekking with birdwatching, a game drive to queen Elizabeth National park and go gorilla trekking at Bwindi Forest national park.

Besides, Kyambura gorge also hosts some bird species such as the blue-headed bee-eater, falcons and the African Finfoot.

Semuliki Wildlife Reserve:

Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is situated close to the Uganda and DR Congo border, with 260 chimpanzee individuals living in 3 communities, although they are still under habituation process. The chimps are continuously studied by scientist from the Indian University and have been recorded to have an extraordinary habit of moving upright as they leave the forest to search for food in the Savannah.

Chimpanzee habituation experience at Semuliki National reserves takes at least 4 hours, though it may last longer, and always starts at 8:00am.

Besides chimpanzees at Semuliki National reserve, trackers might also encounter other primate mammals like olive baboons, monkeys including the white and black colobus monkeys, grey checked mangabey monkeys, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, central African red colobus monkey etc.

Ngamba Island chimpanzee experience:

Ngamba Island sanctuary is a home for 52 orphaned chimpanzees, that’s surrounded by the calm and tranquil waters of Lake Victoria. The sanctuary isn’t designed for chimpanzee tracking standards, specifically care giving, field conservation, wildlife conservation and community education

The sanctuary provides both day Trips (Half and Full day) and overnight at Ngamba Ecolodge to the sanctuary which offers an exclusive chance to closely observe these intelligent apes in their unique home setting.

Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda

Chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda is carried out in both Nyungwe Forest and Gishwati Mukura national Park in Southern Rwanda. The park offers two sections of Uwinka and Cyamudongo, from which chimpanzee trekking takes place, yet the chimpanzee tracking permit price, stands at $100 for Foreign Nonresidents, while the Rwandan tourists pay $60 per person per trek.

Like the famous gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Chimpanzee tracking starts early in the morning majorly from either of the centers of Uwinka & Gisakura at Nyungwe Forest national Park with the morning briefing.

Searching for chimpanzees in the wild including a full hour of face-to-face interaction may lust for up to 6 hours. Chimpanzee trackers should be at least 16 years of age below which is not allowed to track.

Nyungwe National Park holds about 500 chimpanzees, although majority aren’t habituated for tracking. Finding the chimpanzees in this dense forest is not easy, as they are always mobile, while some keep jumping from 1 tree brunch to another.

Apart from chimpanzees, Nyungwe Forest National Park offers best sightings, while the trails cut through the park’s closed-canopy forests, bamboo thickets, and orchid-filled swamps. Take note that the weather in Nyungwe can change at any time, which therefore calls for comfortable tracking outfits.

Apart from watching the chimpanzees’ you can also opt for walk on Nyungwe’s popular canopy walkway. A 200-meter (656-foot) wood bridge hanging 60 meters (196 feet) above the ground. The “hanging trail” affords breathtaking views of the treetop canopy and up-close bird encounters.  Otherwise, trackers can also encounter some other primates including; black faced vervet monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys.

 Mahale Mountains National Park Tanzania

Enjoy an adventure-filled day trekking through the forested slopes of the Mahale Mountain National Park, suitably set on the outskirts of Lake Tanganyika within the Kigoma Region of Tanzania, looking for of the intelligent chimpanzees. The park is one out of 2 chimpanzee gazetted areas in the Tanzania, as well as containing the highest number of chimpanzee individuals, and the only park where chimpanzees and lions exist side by side.

The landscape boasts of mostly craggy and rolling hills, racing across the towering Mahale Mountains chain that covers the northwest and southeast sectors of the park. Mount Nkungwe contains a grand elevation of 2 462 m above sea level.

Trekking through the breathtaking lowland woodlands rewards guests the best chance to tread the very routes of numerous wildlife and birdlife that make up the park. Mahale National Park is a home to about 82 species of mammals, including a group of habituated chimpanzees.

Since sightings are scarce, trackers possess high chances of viewing this charismatic primate with daily walking treks, which are hosted by professional, experienced and knowledgeable guides.  Upon encounter, trackers luckily have at most an hour to witness the chimpanzees’ playful antics and how they communicate with one another before heading back to the lodge.

Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe stream national park, is the smallest and substantial National Park in Tanzania. The park is one among the two parks that’s famous for chimpanzee habituations experience and is an easy reach from Gombe town, since it is situated, just 16km. Gombe National parks was established in 1968 in Kigoma region and covers a total area of about 52square kilometers. The National Park offers impressive views of the steep valleys, forested hills and grasslands, alpine bamboo and the tropical rain forest.

Besides chimpanzees, the park also boasts of other primates including vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys. Gombe Stream National Park also habituates about 200 bird species, 11 snake species, whereas the spectacular Lake Tanganyika provides about 209 fish species.

Not only does the park offer chimpanzee habituation experience, but also game viewing where animals like bush bucks, bush pigs, and reed bucks are spotted. Guided nature walks, spot Fishing and birdwatching are additional activities that travelers can also enjoy.

Rules, Requirements and Regulations for chimpanzee trekking

Chimpanzee Trekking Rules and Regulations are major sensitive instructions that has been set for chimpanzee trackers to follow while trekking, so as to protect the chimps as well as learning how to interact with them. Listed below are the simple chimpanzee trekking rules and regulations that must be followed while tracking them.

Chimpanzee Trekking Rules and Regulations

  • Chimpanzee trekking and tracking is limited to people at a minimum age of 15 and above, except for rare cases like in kalinzu forest that accepts for children at the age of 12, below which is not allowed to track.
  • All trackers should keep a minimum distance of 10 meters between them and the chimpanzees.
  • All trackers should stick by the group and must follow the ranger guides instruction right from briefing and also during the trek.
  • No one is allowed to drink, eat or smoke in the presence of the chimpanzees.
  • Travelers who are suffering from cold, diarrhea, flu or any other illness must not trek or track since the chimpanzees are susceptible to diseases.
  • Cameras with Flash lights are not accepted in the tracking ground, because they scare a way the chimpanzees
  • All wastes including long or short calls must be buried at least 30cm deep to avoid contamination and disease spread.
  • Keep your voice low level, so that you can see more chimpanzees interacting with one another.
  • Chimpanzee tracking groups are limited to 8 individuals who are allowed to track.
  • All members are urged to stay within the group upon chimpanzee encounter and throughout the 1-hour chimpanzee interaction.
  • Trackers are allowed to observe/interact with chimpanzees for up to 1 hour.

Take Note, that most Chimpanzee trekking experience are best done during the morning hours when these creatures are de-nesting from their nests to start their day to search for food as well as during evening hours it is so interesting and rewarding time to watch them while gathering up to make new nests for the night.

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