Chimpanzees are man’s closest relatives sharing about 98.7% of the DNA with man. They adapt to their environments over time developing tools for survival much like humans. You can spend an hour with these creatures in their natural habitat by visiting one of the areas where the trekking happens in Uganda and Rwanda. Chimp trekking brings closer to these primates seeing how they go about their lives in the forest. You will be able to follow them with help of trackers who go ahead of you and ranger guide to get great pictures and learn more about the chimps.
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda
Kibale forest is the primate capital of the world offering a large chimpanzee population with over 120 habituated chimps and 1400 in the forest. The success rate of locating chimps while trekking is over 99%. There are opportunities for Chimpanzee trekking twice each day – morning session starts at 7 am and afternoon at 12 pm with as many as 6 groups tracking each day each with 6 individuals. The forest is home to about 13 different primates including; black & white colobus, red-tailed monkey, red colobus monkeys, baboons
Kalinzu forest has about 40 Chimps habituated for visitors but the forest is home to over 300 individuals. The rate of Chimps sighting while on a trek is about 50% but the forest has a lot to offer in addition to the chimpanzee trekking. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and flowing streams while on this chimpanzee trekking safari. This trek is usually long and and therefore requires one to be with good fitness levels.
Budongo forest at the Kaniyo Pabidi section in Murchison falls national park offers a rewarding chimp trekking experience. Budongo forest boasts of the largest population of Chimpanzees but only a few are habituated for tourism. Unlike Kibale where you need to book permits preferably earlier, at Kaniyo Pabidi, you can inform the park rangers the day before your chimp trek.
Kyambura gorge is a remarkable underground forest in the middle of the otherwise Savannah park – the famous Queen Elizabeth national park. The forest has few chimpanzees that are sometimes difficult to spot but the forest walk is rewarding and the views of the gorge from a look out point are priceless. There are chances for one to come across Hippos and elephants as they look out for Chimps; and on rare occasions you could spot lions.
For those with limited time you can visit Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary for an up-close experience with Chimpanzees. The sanctuary is 45 minutes from the Entebbe pier on Lake Victoria on a speed boat and 1.5 hours on a motorized traditional canoe.
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda
Chimp trekking in Rwanda is in Nyungwe national park in the south of Rwanda. The two areas where chimps can be trekked in Nyungwe are Cyamudongo and Uwinka. Chimpanzee trekking begins early morning with visitors expected to arrive at the briefing point in Uwinka to start trekking at 5 am. Nyungwe forest is home to 13 primate species and over 500 chimpanzees reside in the forest. The other primates include, L’Hoest’s monkey, Angola colobus – delightfully acrobatic monkeys which move in large troops of over 400 individuals, Rwenzori colobus, silver monkey, golden monkey, owl-faced monkey, red-tailed monkey, Den’t mona monkey, Vervet monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey and three species of bush baby.
Chimpanzee trekking tips
- You have to be 12 years and above to be allowed to trek chimps
- Trousers and long sleeved shirts are recommended
- Water proof boots or hiking shoes
- Insect repellent
- Carry bottled water for drinking