Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzees are found in Uganda in various locations including Budongo (near Murchison falls), Kyambura (near the Queen Elizabeth National Park) and most famously, in Kibale Forest National Park where visitors may choose to trek the chimpanzees in morning or afternoon half-day activities or to follow them from nest to nest as a full-day activity with the researchers.

Kibale offers the most reliable chimpanzee sightings with a successful and well organized trekking and research program. Kibale Forest National Park covers an area of around 795km and contains one of Uganda’s most beautiful tropical forests making it the home to the largest concentration of chimpanzees in Africa as well as 13 other species of primates and a vast array of birds and butterflies.

Trekking the chimpanzees is a little more difficult that the gorillas because they move so quickly through the trees and hikers may have to keep pace, however Kibale has a large number of open clearings offering the perfect place for the chimps to relax and eat so it is often possible to encounter them during their rest or eating period and close encounters are not uncommon.

Whilst sightings are never guaranteed it is unusual for visitors not to see the chimps. The forest is also home to various monkey species including Black & White Colobus monkeys or the Red Tailed and Vervet monkeys as well as baboons and the Grey Cheeked mangabey. Your guide will point out Pittas and other bird species as well as endemic plant species within the forests. The chimps have become habituated to researchers and the Wildlife Authority trackers, but they are not at all tame. Trrekking takes place in the early morning when the chimps move from their nocturnal nests and the late afternoon when they move onwards to new nests for the evening.

The walks are led by a specialist Wildlife Authority guide and usually last between 3-4 hours with 1 hour spent with the chimps. There is an age limit for children of 15 years to undertake the primate walks however children over the age of 12 are sometimes allowed to trek at the discretion of the park rangers, if they are able to demonstrate a reasonable level of strength and fitness and are able to follow instructions for safety reasons. The forest is home to forest Elephant who are often aggressive if occasionally encountered and visitors must at all times follow the instructions of the head ranger who will be armed.

Check out our top chimpanzee trekking itineraries!

8 Day “Scheduled Group Tour”

Prices from $2,835 per person sharing, staying in high quality mid range lodges. Gorillas, chimps and safari.

11 Day “Scheduled Group Tour”

Prices from $3,890 per person sharing, staying in quality mid range lodges. Murchison Falls, gorillas, chimps and safari.

Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda

Listen as you trek through the forest and you may hear the frenzied hooting of excited chimpanzees well before you catch sight of them swinging swiftly through the trees. Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives sharing 98% of human DNA. Adult males weigh between 35 & 70 kilograms and reach heights of over 3 metres with a life expectancy of 40 years although those in captivity have been known to live up to 60 years. Chimpanzees are sociable, intelligent and communicative. They have the ability to utilize tools including rocks for crushing nuts, emptying pods and using sticks to fish out termites from holes.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in the South West corner of Rwanda and is one of the last remaining mountain rain-forest habitats. Blessed with a huge biodiversity the forest is popular with bird watches with over 200 different bird species and 10 different species of primates including little over 500 chimpanzees. These are the last of the Rwandan chimpanzee population. Whilst sightings of the chimpanzees are never guaranteed, other primates may be spotted on your trek including the Colobus monkeys which move in unusually large groups, Silver, Blue, Owl faced, Red Tailed, Crowned and Vervet monkeys, Olive baboons, and Grey-cheeked mangabe.

The forests are also home to vast butterfly and bird-life and a rich plant bio-diversity and Cyamudongo Forest is home to rare plant species which are not found in the Nyungwe National Park such as a new purple orchid which was discovered in 2008. Visitors staying in the Nyungwe properties may trek the chimpanzees in Cyamudongo Forest which is a dense rain forest covering an area of 4km² and is situated between Gisakura and Rusizi. Guided by National Park Wildlife Rangers and a team of trackers who follow the chimps daily and are experts in their movements and behaviour, you will be led through the rain forest accompanied by a porter with the sounds of the birds and wildlife all around you.

Tracking chimpanzees is a little more difficult than tracking gorillas because they move faster and are often high up in the trees, therefore sightings are not guaranteed. The dense rain-forest also prevents the chimps from spending time on the ground so sightings are likely to be in the trees at a distance, however it is not uncommon for chimps to cross the path of visitors since they are required to use the same paths for movement as humans.

Check out our top chimpanzee trekking itineraries!

8 Day “Scheduled Group Tour”

Prices from $2,835 per person sharing, staying in high quality mid range lodges. Gorillas, chimps and safari.

11 Day “Scheduled Group Tour”

Prices from $3,890 per person sharing, staying in quality mid range lodges. Murchison Falls, gorillas, chimps and safari.