Chimpanzee trekking is one of the things that makes a Uganda safari unique. Not only is it incredibly special to be able to gorilla and chimp trek in one country but Kibale Forest is one of the best places not only in Uganda, but in the world, to see chimpanzees.
In Uganda, visitors pay up to 600 USD to spend one hour in the presence of endangered mountain gorillas, the country’s most famous wild residents. Yet, for a fraction of the cost, did you know you can spend an entire day observing chimpanzees in their natural habitat?
You can track them for an hour (similar to gorilla tracking) for just 150 USD, but there’s another, more intimate and immersive option. For 220 USD, the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) takes you on a fascinating adventure in small groups with our closest living relatives through Kibale Forest National Park from the break of dawn until 7:00pm — or until your feet say so.
It’s a unique, all-day trek and there’s no telling where the chimpanzees will lead you. Their movements are unpredictable —whether it’s uphill, downhill or on even ground, you follow the agile group, sometimes at challenging speeds through dense vegetation, for rare, up-close encounters.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Photos
Kibale, a tropical forest of varying altitudes in southern Uganda, is home to 1,500 chimps, the highest concentration in Uganda, as well as the most diverse (13 species in total) and densest population of primates in East Africa. Vervet monkeys, olive baboons and red colobus monkeys are also found in these woodlands, making the forest a primate-lover’s dream. And, with 350 species of birdlife, Kibale will satisfy bird enthusiasts too.
But, like most visitors, you you’ll want to visit Kibale Forest for one reason only: to get up close and personal with a group of chimpanzees as they go about their daily lives in the wild.
Where else can you trek chimpanzees
Besides Kibale Forest National Park, you can see them in Murchison Falls National Park and at Kyambura Gorge but Kibale is widely regarded as the best place in Uganda to see them.
In Rwanda, you can combine chimpanzee trekking with your gorilla trek in Rwanda in Nyungwe Forest, and Nyungwe Forest Lodge.
In Tanzania, you can go chimpanzee trekking at Gombe where Jane Goodall did her research, and in the Mahale Mountains. The Mahale Mountains are great because you can stay at Greystoke Mahale on Lake Tanganyika and these particular chimps spend quite a bit of time on the forest floor which is unusual and makes them easier to spot.
Best Time to Visit
Straddling the equator, there is little temperature fluctuation in Uganda throughout the year, with average temperatures in the 80s. It is quite humid, especially in the mountainous areas where you do your trekking. The best time to go chimpanzee trekking to avoid crowds is April through May, during the rainy season. But you’ll be trekking in a rainforest so you’re likely to get wet any time of year! The best months to visit Uganda for drier weather are also its peak tourist season from June to October.
What to Bring on a Chimpanzee Trek
- A small day pack for personal items
- A few snacks of your preference
- Camera. Trust us, you’ll want to take lots of photos, but remember no flash!
- Durable, water-resistant boots with good traction in case of muddy slopes
- Durable, water-resistant jacket
- Layered clothing to adjust for a variety of weather (rain, heat, etc.). Long sleeves and long pants are recommended for any prickly foliage you might trek through.
- Insect repellant
What You Need to Know
- Our consultants must be book your permits in advance
- To prevent transmitting human-borne diseases to the chimps, anyone who is ill (with the flu, for example) is not allowed in the park.
- You must be at least 12 years old to go chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National Park
- Keep a Distance of at least 8 meters between you and the chimpanzees
- Don’t eat next to the chimpanzees
- Listen to your guide at all times – they really do know best
- There are typically 8 people per trekking group