Chimpanzee Tracking Guide For Lone Travelers
Chimpanzee tracking is undeniably one of the leading activities offering a slightly more active experience than gorilla trekking in Uganda. Unlike mountain gorillas, chimpanzees are more active, they often move around and it can be fun-filling following them in their natural environment.
How many chimpanzees are found in Uganda?
Fewer than 5600 chimpanzees all reside in Uganda-East Africa and 1500 of them live in only Kibale Forest National Park-the most famous chimp trekking destination. Chimps are with no human closest relatives sharing up to 98% of their DNA. They are very intelligent and dramatic animal species to interact within the wild, trekking to see them is incredibly most thrilling.
Where to go for chimpanzee tracking in Uganda?
There are 5 best places to go for chimpanzee tracking in Uganda and they include;
- Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale National Park is notably one of the most visited places for chimp tracking in Uganda. This chimp safari park sits in Western Uganda, Kabarole District approximately 5-6 hours’ drive off Kampala Capital. Spanning on 795sq.kms of land area, Kibale protects a huge chimp population about 1500 and 5 habituated chimpanzee communities/troops. These are often visited during Kibale chimpanzee tracking starting from Kanyanchu Tourism Centre. In total, about 13 chimp communities exist in Kibale and chimpanzees are among the 13 primate species living in Kibale National Park.
On a typical chimpanzee trek which often lasts 2-4 hours, there are higher chances to meet a range of other primates including colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, bushbabies, red colobus monkeys, and many others. Chimpanzee trekking permits in Kibale are a must-have for you to visit a habituated chimpanzee community and they cost USD200 per day per person for foreign nonresidents, foreign resident permits are issued at USD150 and East Africa citizen permits cost UGX150,000.
- Kyambura Gorge
Kyambura Gorge is a magical spot any lone-traveler on Uganda safari shouldn’t miss visiting. The Kyambura Gorge which straddles on the extreme East of Queen Elizabeth National Park protects a good population of chimpanzees and the gorge is dubbed ‘Valley of the Apes.’ It protects other primates of good interest to see while on a trek to see chimps including colobus monkeys. Foreign nonresident and Foreign residents chimpanzee permits for Kyambura cost USD30 and East Africa Nationals pay UGX20000.
- Budongo Forest
The important sites to visit to track chimpanzees while on solo/lone travel are Kaniyo-Pabidi Forest section, Busingiro Forest section of Budongo Forest Reserve in Northwestern Uganda. These forest reserves make up part of Murchison Falls Conservation Area, a big game destination and Uganda’s biggest National Park. Budongo Forest which sits on 825sq.kms of land area shelters an estimate of 800 chimpanzees and over 100 have undergone habituation with permits costing USD85.
- Kalinzu Forest Reserve
Kalinzu Forest Reserve straddles in western Uganda and it is with no doubt one of the best places worth visiting for chimpanzee tracking as a lone traveler on safaris in Uganda. The compact natural forest reserve shelters up to 290 chimpanzees and several birds totaling 410 species. 70 of the Kalinzu Forest Reserve’s chimpanzees have been habituated and open for chimpanzee tracking with permits issued at USD30.
- Toro-Semuliki Reserve
Toro-Semliki Reserve is a stunning wildlife reserve noted for chimp tracking, sheltering 290 chimpanzees with 3 troops already undergone habituation, and open for chimp tourism. Semuliki Wildlife is a beautiful nature reserve set in Bundibugyo just between Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale Forest National Park.
Chimpanzee habituation experience
Besides the usual chimp tracking experiences, the lone travelers on safaris in Uganda also stand a chance to enjoy chimpanzee habituation experience, the half-day or whole day adventure. During the chimp habituation, you can be following the semi-habituated chimp community as a way to initiate/make them used to human presence. This is currently best enjoyed in Kibale Forest and Budongo Forest and in Kibale, permits cost for foreign non-residents & foreign residents USD250, East Africa nationals UGX250,000. In Budongo Forest’s chimp habituation experience permits cost USD230.
On chimp tracking or habituation, visitor experience generally is about exploring the different behaviors of chimpanzees. Observe how they socialize and take note of their body gestures, take photos but use a non-flashlight camera.
Chimpanzee tracking regulations in Uganda
Before you hit the forest to look for a troop of habituated chimpanzees, a briefing will be conducted first at the respective starting points like Kanyanchu in Kibale Forest National Park. The important regulations to get to know are; maximum of 6pax go track chimpanzees, no tracking chimpanzees when sick/ill, a distance of 8-10m maximum must be kept away from chimp troop, always keep low your voices, stay calm if chimp charges at you, don’t use a flashlight camera for photo taking, only persons of 15 years and above are eligible for Uganda chimp tracking, a valid chimp permit is a must carry, don’t smoke or drink in chimp habitat, keep chimpanzee habitat cleaner than you got it.
What to wear?
When packing for chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda, consider packing lightly and essential environmentally friendly cloths. In your pack, the following shouldn’t be left out; a daypack, a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, a sweater, a rain jacket, and other items like insect repellents, a camera, permit, hat, sunglasses, and many more.
When to go for chimpanzee tracking-Uganda?
Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda is available at any time of the year however, the best months are dry months of June, July, August to September/December, January, February. No interruptions can be experienced if you embark on chimpanzee tracking during the dry months unlike during the rainy months like April and May.
Where to stay on chimp trekking-Uganda?
There are a good number of accommodation options for a stay while on lone safari in Uganda and in Kibale National Park, for instance, the lodges include; Papaya Lake Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Primate Lodge (Luxury), Kibale Forest Camp, Chimp Nest, Turaco Treetops Lodge. Chimpanzee Guesthouse and many more. The closest place to stay at Budongo Forest is Budongo Eco-Lodge located at the point briefing, and the trek starts from here.
Tips to Book A Uganda Chimps Safari
The best way to enjoy a fantastic chimp tracking safari is by booking through a credible tour operator such as African Jungle Adventures, 4×4 Uganda, and Uganda Motorcycle Adventures among others. Those interested in self-drive adventures can rent a 4×4 car in Kampala from as low as USD45 per day and drive your own adventure to any of the chimps destinations of your interest.