Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

The Chimpanzee trekking adventure in Uganda is a fulfilling wildlife encounter that brings one closer to our closest living relatives – the chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are much more active primates than the mountain gorillas and the chimpanzee trek is a popular activity in Uganda and usually combined with the gorilla trekking activity. Chimpanzee trekking is mostly done in Kibale National Park in Uganda also referred to as the primate capital of the world, Kibale national park is one of the best places in the world to see and encounter chimpanzees in the world.
Kibale National Park is located in the western part of Uganda and lies in the Eastern Afromontane region which is one of the world’s third-five biodiversity hot spots. Kibale is home to the largest known population of the chimpanzees and the park has a high primate density with 12 other primate species that call Kibale national park home. Chimpanzees are endangered species that have been designated as high priority for conservation and protection by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Information about Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees are commonly known as man’s closest relatives as they have 98% of our DNA and are rather active primates compared to the gorillas. Chimpanzees live in large multi-female and multi-male communities and chimpanzees are highly territorial primate species hence protecting their territories with aggression and constant boundary patrols in the forest. On a lucky day while chimpanzee trekking one group might come across a chimp community with chimp juveniles, chimpanzee infants are very close to their mothers and are usually seen with their mothers as they spend the first 4-6 months of their life under their care. Chimpanzee mothers though continue to have influence on their off springs even after the infancy period and the chimpanzees often travel with their mothers for an additional four to five years. Chimpanzee communities vary in size where by some communities can have fewer than 20 individuals while others can have over 200 individuals in one community.

Chimpanzees mainly feed on ripe fruits and 60-70 % of their diet comprises of fruit, in addition to fruits chimpanzees feed on leaves, nuts and pith. Although their diet mainly consists of fruit chimpanzees also hunt down small primates like the red colobus monkeys for meat in their respective communities. Chimpanzees are very social primates and tend to have their own unique ways of communicating through gestures, unique sounds and hand movements. Their way of communication is important for their survival in the forest as different sounds are made by the chimps to warn others in case there is danger ahead or if the run into something that necessitates them to warn the community.

All you need to know about Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park Uganda

Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park is an adventure that allows one to spend up to one hour with the chimpanzees in Kibale forest. Visitors are allowed to visit Chimpanzee communities that have been habituated with the help of trained park rangers and expert researcher. Habituation of the chimpanzees is a process done to get the chimps used to human presence and interaction, this can take years before a community is fully habituated and declared open to visitors.
The chimpanzee trek begins at Kanyanchu Visitor centre inside Kibale national park which is the main visitor’s centre and main ground for all tourist activities in the park. There are 2 sessions available for chimpanzee trekking, the morning session that begins at 7:00am and the afternoon session that begins at 2:00pm. Each sessions begins with a briefing from your ranger/park guide about the park guidelines, chimpanzees and how to behave while on this fulfilling adventure. After briefing you begin the journey in to Kibale forest in search of these active and interesting primates.

Chimpanzees are located with the help of the ranger and park guides who are experts in trekking and Kibale forest. The trek through the forest is a true jungle experience as you will pick sounds of birds chirping and sights of the forest. Once you locate the chimpanzees in Uganda you spend one hour with them, locating the chimpanzees gives you an accomplished feeling and watching the these primates as exist in the forest is worth the walk. Chimpanzees during the encounter can be seen feeding, hopping around the tree branches as they are rather active primates, grooming each other, mating or chilling on the ground on a lazy day after feeding. You are able to also capture some wonderful photos of the chimpanzees while at it. After this you transfer back to the starting point of the trek as you end the day with great memories of the chimps of Kibale national park.
The minimum age for visitors allowed to do the chimpanzee trek in Uganda is 12 years so anyone above this age is welcome to trek the chimpanzees.

Cost of the Chimpanzee Trekking Permit in Kibale national Park

The Chimpanzee trekking permit costs $200 for a Foreign Non-Resident / International Visitor.
For a Foreign Resident cost of the permit is $150.
For an East African Citizen cost is 150,000.

Please note that the rates above are subject to change and can be revised by the Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA)

How to prepare for Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

Physical Fitness
The chimpanzee trek is a less physically demanding trek so with average fitness one is able to trek the chimps without difficulty. The trek also happens in areas that are relatively flat and with less slippery terrain as opposed to gorilla trekking that happens in mountainous area. The average fitness is okay to trek the chimpanzees and also be able to keep up with them while on the trek as chimps tend to be more active.

While preparing for your chimpanzee trekking tour in Uganda make sure that you are free from diseases like Flu, cough as these can easily be transferred to the chimpanzees which might affect them greatly.

What to Pack
A Backpack – a light back pack is needed to carry our essential items like binoculars, camera, phone, batteries and packed lunch that is given to you at the lodge in the morning.
Insect Repellent – You should also pack insect repellent because being a rain forest there are insects that are likely to sting or cause body rush so insect repellent is very essential for protection.
Hiking boots – these you will need because Kibale national park is in the Afromontane region and usually receives rains so the terrain can be slippery. The hiking boots should be of good quality and water resistant.
Camera and extra batteries – since it is a trek we recommend you carry your camera so that you are able to take photos and capture some memorable moments while chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda. You should also pack extra batteries that will come in handy in case the battery runs out while on the trek.
Clothing – You should pack a long sleeved shirt and long trousers. In addition you should carry a rain jacket just in case it rains while in the forest you can wear it over you clothes to protect you from the rain.

Other areas aside from Kibale National Park where you can see the Chimpanzees in Uganda

Kibale national park is not the only place where you can see the chimpanzees in Uganda, Uganda has other areas and reserves where one can trek or see the chimpanzees and these include;

Budongo Forest at Kaniyo Pabidi in Murchison Falls National Park
Budongo Forest is the second best place to see and trek the chimpanzees in Uganda. Budongo forest is one of East Africa’s largest tropical rain forest and is rich in diversity as it hosts a variety of plants, birds, fungi, mammals and primates. Chimpanzees are present in Budongo forest in large numbers with over 800 individuals living in the tropical rain forest, this makes it the next best place to see the chimps in Uganda. The forest has one habituated chimpanzee community that lives in the Kaniyo Pabidi area south of Murchison Falls National park and this community with over 100 members is open to visitors for tracking. Tracking chimpanzees in Budongo forest is best combined with a wildlife safari in Murchison Falls national park which is Uganda’s largest national park. A Chimpanzee trekking permit in Budongo forest costs $130.

Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kyambura Game reserve is another area where one can do the chimp trekking activity in Uganda. Kyambura forest is located in the north-eastern part of Queen Elizabeth national park, a savanna park in Uganda known for incredible wildlife sightings. The forest has a small population of about 25 chimpanzees in the habituated community so chances of seeing the chimps are available but minimal since the chimpanzees are always actively moving around the forest in search of food. A chimpanzee trekking permit in Kyambura Gorge costs $50.

Kalinzu Forest
Chimpanzee trekking takes place in Kalinzu Forest as well, Kalinzu central forest reserve is located next to Queen Elizabeth national park and the forest is popular for its tree species, primate species and abundant birdlife. The chimpanzee trek in Kalinzu forest offers better chance of seeing the chimps than Kyambura Gorge as the forest hosts about 300 chimpanzees. The forest has a habituated community that is open for tracking that has about 40 chimps. A Chimpanzee trekking permit in Kalinzu Forest costs $40.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary is a sanctuary that was formed to provide a safe place for rescued chimpanzees and the sanctuary is located on a small island on Lake Victoria. Getting to Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary is by boat or a motorized canoe on Lake Victoria and while here you see the chimpanzees as they live in the sanctuary therefore it does not include any trekking. The Sanctuary has about 40 chimpanzees that are live in the small forest and are cared for by the staff at the sanctuary. Ngamba Island is a great option for a day visit to see the chimpanzees that reside here and is great for families with children.


The Uganda Wildlife Education Center
The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) also known as Uganda’s zoo is located in Entebbe town and one of the places in Uganda where one can see the chimpanzees. The chimpanzees here can only be viewed just like other wildlife in the zoo. A visit to UWEC can be done as a day tour from Entebbe town.

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