Guide to Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda

UGANDA has more than 5000 chimpanzees making it the top destination for chimpanzee trekking in East Africa. Chimpanzees are our closest humans with a percentage of 98 of human DNA.

Chimpanzees in East Africa are found in Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda though the best chimpanzee habituating places are found in Uganda and Rwanda.

Chimpanzee trekking is one of the most popular activity in Uganda with three national parks which offers the best chimpanzee trekking experience, Kibale being the main chimpanzee trekking destination with over 1,500 chimps.

Chimpanzee trekking can also be done in Queen Elizabeth national park, Murchison falls national park, kalinzu forest, semuliki wildlife reserve and Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary which protects orphaned chimpanzees.

Chimpanzees live in groups and it’s hard for them to sleep in the same place twice, they keep on moving in search for water and food.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park.

Kibale national park is a rainforest located in southwestern Uganda and easily accessible from Kampala city. There are thirteen different chimp species that are found in Kibale national park. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park is conducted twice a day at 8 am in the morning which lasts for about three hours depending on how far the chimps have traveled, when you spot them, you are given a maximum of one hour to see the chimpanzees, you can take photos as you want but avoid using camera flashes.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale is easy because the chimps can easily be seen and are many.

Before you kick start your trek, guides will brief you on what to expect during the trek, like very loud noise from the chimps, see them hunting for food, fighting, playing, and much more. Be prepared for a strained neck because chimps love being on top of the trees, be aware of falling fruits, and sometimes urine from the chimps.

The best time to trek: Chimp trekking in kibale is done in two sessions, the morning session that starts at 7am and the second session that starts at midday.

Due to the fact the kibale national park is a rain forest, its better you visit during dry seasons. Uganda’s dry seasons are between December and early march. Kibale is more crowded during dry seasons, if you want a good gorilla trek you can come during rainy seasons. Besides kibale is a rain forest it can rain any time of the year. If possible, book a morning trek because afternoon weather is unpredictable.

Rules followed while Trekking Chimps in Kibale

  • You must be 15 years and above. However, if a child is strong enough, fit, and able to follow the guide’s instructions, he or she can be exempted.
  • Only six people are allowed to trek the gorilla
  • Don’t track chimps when you are sick or have a transmittable disease
  • Eating food near the chimps is prohibited.

What to wear

  • Sturdy hiking boots for support while on a slippery trail.
  • Warm cotton clothing suitable for cold weather plus a rain jacket
  • Insect repellant
  • Cameras and binoculars
  • Drinking water
  • A light back-pack to carry your needed items
  • Warm sweater to keep for the night.

Chimpanzee Trekking In Murchison Falls National Park

Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison falls national park is done in Budongo forest, kaniyo pabidi forest and Rabongo forest with over 600 chimpanzees.  The trekking is done in groups of 6 done in two sessions, morning and evening, the journey Lasts for about three hours depending on the chimpanzee movements. A full day habituation experience is available.

The best time to trek is done October to December, February and June to September

Budongo forest has over 800 chimpanzees and other small chimps like white and black Columbus monkeys, olive baboon, blue monkeys, red monkeys which are habituated which are found in kaniyo pabidi.

Chimpanzee Trekking In Queen Elizabeth National Park

Here, the trek is done in kyambura Gorge with one family of chimps and nicknamed as the ‘valley of Apes’ because it harbors a small chimp family. Chimps found here include, the great chimpanzees, white and black Columbus monkeys, the grey checked mangabey and much more. The kyambura gorge is hidden which makes tourist miss it while in queen Elizabeth national park.

The trek is done in two phases, the morning hours and evening hours, the trek lasts for about 2-3 hours depending on their movement. Ounce you find a chimp family, you re given maximum of one hour to view the chimps

The best time to trek chimps in kyambura gorge is during dry seasons in the month of June, July, august, September to mid-October.

What to pack for chimpanzee trekking in queen Elizabeth national park

The kyambura gorge is a tropical thick forest that will require to carry long sleeved shirts, insect repellant, jungle hiking boots, rain jackets, head hat, sun glasses, cameras and binoculars, extra batteries.

Cost of chimpanzee trekking permit


Chimpanzee trekking in kalinzu forest

This forest is also located in queen Elizabeth national park with about 300 chimpanzees and 40 habituated ones making it better for those who love chimp trekking and habituating. A chimp trekking permit in kalinzu is a bit cheaper than in other places and the minimum age for chimp trekking in kalinzu is 12 years compared to other places which start from 15 years.

Chimpanzee trekking in semuliki wildlife reserve

Semuliki wildlife reserve is located in a valley covered with acacia woodland which harbors most of the chimpanzees in the reserve.

Semuliki reserve is a gazette area which was put up to conserve the kobs and other wildlife animals.

The trekking takes place in the morning hours which takes about 1-3 hours depending on how the chimps have travelled.

Chimpanzee trekking in Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary.

The island is home to 52 orphaned and rescued chimpanzees. The island is taken care of by the chimpanzee sanctuary and wildlife conservation trust an NGO responsible for the wellbeing of the chimps. The sanctuary offers day and night trips and provide you with an opportunity to observe the chimps as they feed, spend their time and how they manage their own communities or families.

While at Ngamba island the guide takes through how they feed the chimps and see what they eat, you also get a chance to visit their hospital where they are treated from. The number of chimpanzees at Ngamba island is maintained by putting female chimpanzee on birth control.

Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary is managed through donations. You can donate to Ngamba island and help in saving orphaned and rescued chimpanzee.