Chimpanzee Trekking in Africa, African Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris & Tours
Chimpanzee trekking in Africa/African Chimpanzee trekking safaris and tours are conducted in dense tropical forests, the natural habitat of the Chimps. A few people have got a chance to see these apes in their natural setting and that’s why it is on every traveler’s bucket list. Chimpanzees have been hunted to extinction in many areas because of their great value in laboratories and also humans have destroyed their natural homes for their selfish benefits.
However, seeing and photographing our closest cousins is a lifetime experience as they are unique and adorable animals when found in their native state. East and Central Africa today have the best destinations for African Chimpanzee trekking safaris. Tourists can track and see Chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of Congo for close to ten hours though the most accessible destinations are Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
During your Chimpanzee trekking in Africa tours, you are only given a full hour to be with the Chimps same as Gorilla trekking experience. However, for Chimpanzee habituation, you spend the whole day with apes. The Chimpanzee trekking experience is either enjoyed early in the morning or the afternoon and you get to see primate species and a variety of colorful bird species including endangered species.
All in all, to enjoy African Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris & Tours, you require a Chimpanzee trekking permit which is less expensive than the Gorilla trekking permit but you need to buy it in advance as they can be scarce at times. Walking along with the Chimpanzees in the dense forests gives a person the real feeling of an African adventure with the wild untouched.
Top Chimpanzee Trekking Destinations in Africa
Chimpanzee trekking in Africa is enjoyed in East and Central Africa. You can track the habituated Chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of Congo though the most accessible destinations in Africa are Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
The more habituated Chimpanzees are in Uganda within the national parks and they recognize human presence giving you up-close views.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
In Uganda, Chimpanzees are mostly found in tropical forests which are mostly national parks. Chimpanzee tracking is one of the most popular activities to enjoy during your safari in Uganda.
The top destinations for trekking Chimpanzees in Uganda are Kibale National Park located in Western Uganda, Kalinzu Forest, Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria.
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest is amazing and unique and it attracts many visitors who want to meet the Chimpanzees. This park has the largest population of Chimpanzees with about 1500 individuals though a few are habituated.
Chimpanzee treks here are done twice a day that is the morning and the afternoon. The Chimpanzee treks require you to have a Chimpanzee trek permit which goes for $200 which is less compared to the cost of Gorilla permits.
Chimpanzee habituation is also experienced in Kibale Forest National Park and during this experience, you spend more time with the apes which is almost a full day.
Kibale is indeed ranked to be the best for trekking Chimpanzees in Uganda and besides seeing the Chimps, you will as well see primate species like Vervet Monkeys, Red tailed Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboons, many bird species including the endangered species and animals like Forest Elephants.
Chimpanzee trekking starts with a briefing at Kanyanchu Visitor Center in Kibale National Park. Always book your Chimpanzee trekking permits in advance especially if you wish to visit in the peak season.
Chimpanzee treks in Kibale Forest can be combined with Gorilla trekking adventure in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park so that you get the best primate tours.
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING IN THE MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
Chimpanzee trekking safaris in Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park are amazing, especially at the Kaniyo Pabidi eco-tourism site. However, there are more chances of seeing the apes in Kibale Park and Kalinzu Forest.
A Chimpanzee trek in the Budongo forest is done twice every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Budongo Forest Reserve is a worthy diversion for excellent Chimpanzee trekking before heading into the vast Murchison Falls National Park for the big game viewing experience.
Visitors should be aware that Chimpanzee tracking in Murchison requires a Chimpanzee trekking permit which is bought from Budongo Eco-Lodge and always use a registered local operator.
During your Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo, you will encounter many bird species and primate species like Vervet and Red tailed Monkeys, many wild animals like Forest Elephants, and colorful bird species.
Tourists should be aware that Chimpanzee trekking starts from the Kaniyo Pabidi eco-tourism site.
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING IN THE QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK
Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park offers Chimpanzee trekking that is unmissable. This gorge was created as a buffer zone for wildlife species and it is a green area in the golden savannah grasslands.
Chimpanzee trekking safaris in Kyambura Gorge are done in the mornings and it takes about 1 to 2 hours and you are escorted by experienced tour guides and after the trek, you can as well enjoy a game drive around the national park.
Nature lovers will enjoy birding as the gorge has many bird species and other primates as well and if lucky some Forest Elephants.
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING SAFARIS IN KALINZU FOREST
Kalinzu Forest Reserve is home to diverse wildlife, other than chimpanzees, and more than 370 bird species. This reserve offers an excellent Chimpanzee trekking experience and during the encounter, you get to see primate species like Baboons, Blue Monkeys, and Red tailed Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Black and white Colobus Monkeys, and many amazing bird species.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda | Chimpanzees Trekking Safaris in Rwanda
Chimpanzee trekking and Gorilla trekking are one of the top touristy activities in Rwanda. There are only two national parks in Rwanda where you can see Chimpanzees and these are, Rwanda Nyungwe National Park and Giswati Mukuru National Park.
Tourists can always go Chimp tracking and Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park with sightings of Golden Monkeys as well during their Rwanda tours.
Below are the best places in Rwanda to see Chimps;
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING IN NYUNGWE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
Nyungwe National Park is located in southwestern Rwanda and it is fond of a dazzling array of flora and fauna and an impressive spread of hiking trails. It is home to 100-year-old trees, fern-fringed waterfalls, and oversize driver ants to the accompaniment of a cacophony of bird calls.
Nyungwe National Park is one of the best places to see Chimpanzees and it has over 500 Chimps living in the park making it a popular tourist attraction. Tourists can also see primate species during Chimpanzee treks in Nyungwe Forest like Black and white Colobus Monkeys along with a big number of bird species and Forest Elephants.
During your Chimpanzee trekking encounters in Nyungwe Forest National Park, you go through the trails through the park’s closed-canopy forests, bamboo thickets, and orchid-filled swamps.
After, your Chimpanzee trek, you can as well walk on Nyungwe Forest Canopy walk a 200-meter bridge suspended 60 meters above the ground. While here, you can get sightings of forested Mountain slopes and many bird species making it a memorable adventure.
Chimpanzee tours in Nyungwe National Park can be combined with Gorilla trekking trips in Volcanoes National Park.
BEST TIME TO GO FOR CHIMPANZEE TREKKING SAFARIS IN NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK
Although Chimpanzee trekking tours are done all year round in Nyungwe, the best time to go Chimpanzee tracking is during the dry season. This is mostly December, February, June, and September as during this time the trekking trails are dry and making it easy for trekkers to trek and observe other primates and bird species.
Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris in Democratic Republic of Congo
Although DR Congo is well known for Gorilla trekking in the Virunga National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also a destination for Chimpanzee trekking since it has many Chimpanzee species one of the popular tourist attraction in the country.
The Congo has Lowland and Mountain Gorillas within Kahuzi Biega National Park and Virunga National Park respectively. During Chimpanzee encounters, tourists can spot other wildlife within the Democratic Republic of Congo like Golden Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, and bird species.
In the Virunga National Park, Chimpanzee trekking starts early in the morning and trekkers are divided into groups of six. One hour is given to trekkers to be with the apes and you get to observe Chimp behaviors as they feed and care about each other within the forested mountain slopes.
Trekking Chimpanzees in Virunga National Park is best in the dry months of June, July, and October.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Tanzania | Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris in Tanzania
Tanzania is another amazing destination for Chimpanzee trekking in East Africa as it has many Chimpanzees in its national parks. Chimp trekking is most frequent in Gombe National Park and Mahale Mountain National Park.
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING SAFARIS IN GOMBE NATIONAL PARK
Gombe National Park is on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and it is Tanzania’s most petite and loveliest destination. Gombe National Park was made famous by Jane Goodall, and it is one of the two destinations to see Chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
However, it is also a challenging Chimpanzee trekking destination in Africa. Gombe Stream National Park stretches from the Sandy beaches of the lake up into the thick jungle and the mountains of the rift escarpment in the backdrop.
During Chimpanzee tracking in Gombe National Park, you get to follow in Jane Goodall’s footsteps as you get to see Chimps feeding and as they climb hills and forage in deep valleys with sightings of other wildlife such as Vervet Monkeys and bird species.
To gain access to Gombe Stream National Park, tourists are required to pay a daily entry fee of $100 per person for 24 hours. However, keep in mind that rates may change when visiting Gombe Stream National Park depending on the season.
You can reach the park easily by helicopter flights.
CHIMPANZEE TREKKING SAFARIS IN MAHALE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Mahale Mountain National Park is an amazing, protected area in the extreme west of Tanzania and one of the last untamed areas in the world. It is one of the national parks that protect Africa’s last communities of common Chimpanzees.
Apart from Gombe Stream National Park, Mahale Mountains National Park is the other destination for Chimp trekking in Tanzania. Since it is located along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, Mahale Mountain National Park can only be accessed by boat.
Mahale Mountain National Park is not only home to Chimpanzees but also to Tanzania’s denser population of primates like Red Colobus, Baboons, Red Tailed Monkeys, bird species, and other wildlife.
This park has about 1000 Chimpanzees within small communities though only one group has been habituated. Chimpanzee trekking takes place daily in Mahale Mountain National Park, except on Mondays and Thursdays.
Mahale Mountains National Park is indeed one of the best places to see Chimpanzees in the wild for travelers looking for new wilderness experiences and seeing wild chimpanzees makes the journey outstanding.
Safari Air link services offer helicopter flights to Mahale airstrip from which you can take a 90-minute boat ride to reach the beach lodges of Mahale Mountain National Park.
About Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
This is the slow process of training wild Chimpanzees to get used to human presence at all times during Chimp trekking. The Chimpanzee habituation experience involves spending a few hours with the Chimpanzees at close range.
During the habituation experience, you spend more time with the Chimps compared to the normal Chimpanzee trekking safari and Gorilla trekking. On the Chimpanzee habituation, you can be with the apes for almost a full day though it is only one hour for Chimpanzee tracking.
Chimpanzee habituation takes long before it is actualized which is about 2 to 3 years in Uganda and it has been a success in Kibale National Park. After this time, the habituated apes are let out for human presence.
The Chimpanzee habituation permit is a bit more expensive ($250) than Chimpanzee trekking permits ($200). You can always book your permits in advance so that you get a better experience.
Chimpanzee trekking Vs. Chimpanzee habituation
These are adventurous experiences that no one should miss on their Uganda safaris. Uganda is known to be a good place to enjoy Chimpanzee habituation and tracking at the same time.
During Chimpanzee habituation, tourists spend more time with the apes which is almost close to a full day unlike Chimp trekking where you be with the apes for 1 hour.
Chimpanzee trekking permits cost $200 per person and Chimpanzee habituation costs $250. These two amazing experiences are both enjoyed in Kibale Forest National Park and Budongo Forest.
Chimp trekking VS Gorilla trekking
Mountain Gorilla trekking and Chimp trekking are unmissable during Uganda tours as you get to write your own story of an African safari. Mountain Gorilla trekking and Chimpanzee trekking are also two of the remarkable safari adventures in tropical Africa.
Coming face to face with these intelligent primates who are closely related to humans is undoubtedly unlike any other animal encounter in Africa. We highly recommend both experiences.
Chimpanzee trekking is often done on easier trekking terrains than Gorilla trekking.
The Gorilla trek permit costs $700 and the Chimpanzee trekking permit costs $200.
Gorilla trekking is enjoyed in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park.
A Chimp trekking safari is enjoyed in Tanzania’s Mahale Mountain National Park and Gombe Stream National Park and the forested corners of Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kyambura Gorge and Murchison Falls National Park in Budongo Forest as well as Kibale National Park located in western Uganda.
Only 6 people are permitted to track a Chimpanzee family though during Gorilla trekking, 8 people are permitted to track a Gorilla family.
What Is the Best Time to See Chimpanzees in Uganda?
Chimpanzee trekking takes place all year round though the best time for a Chimpanzee trekking tour is during the dry season which is experienced between June to September and December to January.
This is also the peak season when many tourists on Chimpanzee trekking safari tours are in the country. The forest trails are dry and easily accessible unlike in the wet season when they become slippery making it difficult to find Chimps in their natural habitat.
However, in the wet season, Chimpanzees are near and easy to spot since there is abundant fruit in the jungle and also it is a good time for birding as there are many bird species in the forests and other wildlife.
Cost of the Chimpanzee Trekking Permit
A Chimpanzee trekking permit is a legal document that will give you access to see Chimpanzees in their natural habit. Just like Gorilla trekking permits, Chimpanzee permits are also printed per day and these are only valid for a specific date they are allocated.
In Uganda, Chimp permits are purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority or you could use a reputable tour operator to help you purchase the permits. The tour operator will book for you the Chimp permit and Gorilla permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority once payments are done.
The Chimpanzee trekking permit is inclusive of the park entrance fee.
Below is a table showing the cost of the Chimp permit for each destination;
Kibale National Park
Budongo Forest Reserve
Nyungwe National Park
Gombe National Park
$20 + park entrance fee of $80
Mahale Mountains National Park
Chimpanzee Trekking Rules and Regulations
For your safety and the protection of the Chimpanzees, you are required to follow a few rules along the trekking trails as you track Chimpanzees. They are similar to those of Mountain Gorillas during Gorilla trek adventures.
- If you are ill, you are not permitted to enter the forest because the chimps may contract human diseases.
- Chimpanzee tracking experience is only available to those over the age of 15.
- Littering is not permitted in the forest.
- Human waste should be disposed of at a depth of at least 12 inches (30cm).
- Members trekking are required to remain silent while in the forest so that they can see more wildlife.
- At all times, keep a distance of at least 8 meters (25 feet) from Chimpanzees so that the apes do not contract human diseases.
- Do not mimic the vocalizations of chimps (you do not know what you might be saying)
- It is illegal to eat near apes when you track chimps.
- Chasing Chimpanzees is prohibited in the forest.
- Avoid using a flashlight while photographing when you track Chimps.
- You are permitted to be in the presence of a Chimpanzee family for 1 hour.
- Each group of Chimpanzees is limited to 8 people.
What To Pack for a Chimp Trek in Uganda?
There is no need to carry excess luggage while on a Chimpanzee trek tour, only carry essential items with you always. Some of these items to pack for a Chimp trek include;
- Insect repellent
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Bottled drinking water
- Long-sleeved shirts and trousers to avoid scratches on your body
- A walking stick to ease trekking
- Camera and binoculars
- A small backpack to carry a few essentials like cameras and extra batteries during the Chimp trek
- A sun hat and sunscreen
Where to Stay During Your Chimpanzee Track Trip
When on your Chimpanzee tracking tours, you don’t have to worry about where you will be staying for the safari. All Chimp trekking safari destinations have amazing accommodation facilities that can accommodate you.
These facilities are classified into luxury, midrange, and budget accommodation.
Luxury safari lodges; these are high-end accommodation facilities and offer top-notch services to all clients. They are located in areas with wilderness views and an amazing tranquil environment.
Midrange safari lodges; offer comfort with amazing facilities and services though their services don’t reach those of luxury lodges. Also, their prices are a bit lower compared to those of luxury lodges.
Budget Lodges; these are amazing and are for those traveling on shoestring. They have limited facilities and services but you will get comfort during your overnight stay.
What Types of Primates Are Found in Africa?
There are several types of primates living within the tropical forests of Africa. Below are these primates;
Chimpanzees; share more than 98% of their DNA with humans. They are intelligent primates known for their complicated manipulation of tools to get food. They are found in East, Central, and West Africa.
Mountain Gorillas; are divided into Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas both native only in Africa. They live in Families headed by a dominant Silverback. Mountain Gorillas and Lowland Gorillas are vegetarians as they spend all day searching for food and resting.
Due to illegal hunting and destruction of their natural habitat, they are taken to be critically endangered animals. They are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda and you get to see them during Gorilla trekking.
If you want to see Lowland Gorillas, then you should go for a Gorilla trekking experience in Kahuzi Biega of Congo.
Bonobos; these are pygmy chimpanzees and they dwell in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to civil wars, poaching, and the destruction of their natural habitat, the population of Bonobos has greatly declined.
African Monkey Species; there are many monkey species on the African Continent and they live in large troops comprising of many individuals. Species like colobus monkeys spend more time in trees while Vervet monkeys live close to humans.
Some of the common monkey species include Black-and-White Colobus Monkey, baboons, Red tailed monkey, vervet monkey, Red Colobus Monkey, mandrills, guenons, and Grey-Cheeked Mangebey, etc.
Other primate species found in Uganda include
Other primate species include; the Red tailed Monkey, Blue Monkey, Olive Baboon, Red Colobus Monkey, Golden Monkey, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, Patas Monkey, L’Hoest’s Monkey, and Black and white Colobus Monkeys.
Best Time to Primate Watching in East Africa
Primate watching in Eastern Africa includes Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. All these destinations are open to visitors all year round though the best recommended time is during the dry season.
This is usually from June to August and from December to February. You can enjoy Gorilla trekking experience and Chimpanzee tracking as the trails are all dry making accessibility easy. It is also an epic time for bird watching since bird species are flying freely as there is no rain.
The rainy seasons should be avoided especially when going primate watching as the forest trails are very slippery and muddy while the amount of rainfall received in the primate destinations is high.
How Difficult Is Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda?
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is not difficult as trekking is done following flat trails in tropical forests. Also, Chimpanzees live at a low altitude, and this makes it easy to go trekking unlike when going for Gorilla trekking.
Where Is the Best Place for Chimpanzee Trekking?
The best place for Chimpanzee trekking is Kibale National Park as it has the highest number of habituated Chimps in Africa. The chances of seeing Chimpanzees in Kibale are over 98% meaning that you are guaranteed to the apes.
Chimpanzee trekking starts at the Kanyanchu visitors’ center where you are briefed by experienced ranger guides from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
How Long Is Chimpanzee Trekking?
The treks last about 3 hours and include a maximum of 1 hour with the Chimpanzees and you can see them from a safe distance of 8-10 meters. This is the right distance to get up close with the Chimps and discover their beauty, intelligence, and social structures.
Is Chimpanzee Trekking Safe?
Yes, it is safe since the Chimpanzees you trek are fully habituated and recognize the presence of humans. Alternatively, unhabituated Chimps fear humans meaning that when you meet them, they will run away.
Listening to your tour guide or ranger guide is key to safety. Always maintain a distance and never eat or smoke in the company of Chimpanzees. Also, all trekkers are accompanied by armed rangers who can fire a loud warning shot in case the situation necessitates.
Always wear good hiking boots when going for Chimpanzee trekking trips.
How Much Is Chimpanzee Trekking In Kibale National Park?
A Chimp trekking safari in Kibale requires a Chimp permit which costs $200 from Uganda Wildlife Authority. The Chimpanzee habituation permit costs $250 and the experiences give you remarkable experiences.
What Is Chimpanzee Trekking?
This involves walking through the jungle of rainforests in search of habituated chimps for about 2-5 hours. This depends on their location and once you spot a Chimp family, you be in their presence for only one full hour.
It is almost similar to Gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with the same procedures and rules.
How Much Is Chimpanzee Trekking in Queen Elizabeth National Park?
Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth Park requires you to have a permit which costs $50 per Chimpanzee trek and per person. However, you can combine trekking with wildlife safaris to have a chance to see many wild animals in the rolling savannahs.
How Much Is Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda?
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda should not be missed when on a Uganda safari tour. A chimp permit costs $200 in Kibale Park and you can enjoy a 3-day chimp trekking safari starting from $1000.
Can You Visit the Chimp Sanctuary?
Yes, you can visit Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Lake Victoria and enjoy observing the fascinating apes in a unique setting.
Ngamba Island is a safe zone for rescued Chimpanzees, and you can visit and engage in the many programs that the island offers, like volunteering in feeding the Chimps.
Where Can You See a Chimpanzee?
You can see Chimpanzees in the wild in the following national parks and places.
- Kibale National Park
- Kyambura Gorge
- Budongo Forest in Murchison
- Kalinzu Forest
- Rwanda Nyungwe National Park
- Mahale Mountains National Park
- Gombe National Park
What Is the Best Country to See Primates in Africa?
Uganda is the best country to see primates in Africa as it has the highest number and hence fabled as the primate capital of the world. This country has the largest number of primates living within its verdant protected rainforests in the different parts of the country.
Uganda has almost half of the world’s Mountain Gorillas within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Mgahinga National Park ideal for Gorilla trekking.
You can go for a Chimpanzee trek in Kibale Park, Budongo, Kyambura Gorge, and Kalinzu Forest Reserve. You can also find the Red-tailed Monkey, Golden Monkey, and Vervet Monkeys in Uganda.
African Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris & Tours are unlike the quickening thrill of predator pursuits on savannah set safaris, but they are an intimate one. You will meet face-to-face with the primates that we share over 98% of our DNA.
You will witness with wonder how these apes interact with each other, as they cradle their infants, and goof in a way that is familiar. Our Chimpanzee watching tours are mostly combined with Gorilla trekking to give you a full combo of primate adventures.
You are guaranteed memorable experiences and that’s why the two rank among the travelers’ Africa highlights.
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