Or send an inquiry to have your trip tailor made by one of our experienced staff.
Where to track Chimps…
… in Uganda
- Kibale Forest National Park: Kibale forest is home to 1,400 Chimps and has the continent’s highest diversity and density of primates. Two three-hour chimp tracking hikes run daily. The full-day habituation experience is limited to four people.
- Kyambura Gorge, Queen Elizabeth National Park: Though best known for its tree climbing lions and the hundreds of hippos seen on Kazinga Channel boat cruises, Queen Elizabeth National Park is also home to chimpanzees, who live in the forest of 100m deep Kyambura Gorge. The chimps are habituated, but the chances of seeing them are lower than in Kibale. Two hikes daily.
- Budongo Forest, Murchison Falls National Park: Two chimp tracking hikes run daily, the whole hike takes two to four hours and you get to spend up to an hour with the chimps. Group size for the habituation experience is limited to two people.
- Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve: This diverse wildlife reserve offers quieter, and less certain, chimp encounters than Kibale. The forest cover is lighter, which makes sightings clearer. The chimps here frequently venture out into open savannah, where they’re more likely to walk upright
- Ngamba Island, Lake Victoria: a short boat ride from Entebbe, Ngamba island is home to 40 rescued or orphaned Chimps. If time is limited, a visit to Ngamba island makes a great day trip from Kampala or Entebbe.
… in Rwanda
- Nyungwe Forest, Nyungwe National Park: This large montane forest is home to 500 chimps and 12 other species of primate.
- Cyamudongo Forest, Nyungwe National Park: 25 chimpanzees live in a farmland-surrounded fragment of mountain rainforest. Group size for chimp tracking is limited to eight visitors.
Chimp tracking usually takes between two and four hours, depending on how far the chimps are from the starting point of your hike. You’ll hike through the forest on search for the chimps following signs like their old nests from the night before, droppings and the chimps’ sounds and cries. Once your guide has located a chimp troop, you get to spend time close to them observing the chimps as they go about their daily life: taking care of their young ones, hunting, resting, eating. Time spent with them is limited to one hour in order to avoid stress for the animals and transmittance of human-borne diseases.
Chimps can move quickly and sometimes you’ll follow them over uneven, densely vegetated terrain and steep muddy slopes so good fitness is a must. Don’t forget to bring hiking boots, rain gear and insect repellent.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
A chimp’s natural behavior is to run and climb as far away from humans as possible. It takes at least two years of daily habituation to get chimp troops used enough to human presence for tourist chimp tracking to succeed.
Many chimp tracking locations offer a full day program called Chimpanzee Habituation Experience, which allows you to accompany researchers studying a chimpanzee family undergoing habituation for tourism. During this experience, you get to spend a full day out in the forest. You’ll follow a family of chimpanzees from the moment they descend from their nests early in the morning, stay with them as they go about their daily lives foraging for fruit, copulating, breastfeeding, hunting resting and displaying until they build new nests up in the canopy in the evening.