Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest is one of the most exciting activities one can take part in when in the area. Budongo forest is one of the very few places in Uganda that chimpanzees can be trekked from. The forest covers a total size of 500 square kilometers and a variety of wildlife and plant life can be found in this vast forest. The forest is located in the northwestern part of Uganda and it is en-route Murchison Falls National Park. Budongo forest is the country’s biggest mahogany forest which also has Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro eco-tourism sites. The forest hosts over 370 species of birds, 460 tree species, 24 primates, 130 months, 250 butterflies among so many others. Budongo forest offers tourists with an experiential chimpanzee trekking experience, and at an affordable rate at that.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest is done twice daily in 2 different shifts that set off at 7 am and at 3 pm every day. There are only 16 slots available every day as only 8 persons can be allowed to trek per shift. Travelers are left to decide on which shift they’d like to do chimp trekking in. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo has travelers getting to Kaniyo Pabidi eco site where they meet other trekkers and then get briefed of their trek ahead and then proceed to search for the chimps. Given their noisy habit, the chimps location can easily be told. The trek takes 3 hours and has them viewing the chimps and enjoying their presence for one full hour in which time they can get to take pictures and record videos of the chimps as they eat, play and jump from one branch to another. Chimpanzees are sometimes easily found and thus giving a shorter trek. During the dry season though, the chimps tend to move to further places in search of what to eat thereby giving travelers a harder trek in their search. Travelers are encouraged to have a ranger during this activity given that there are other wild animals in the forest like the lions which find the forest plentiful of their prey.
To take part in chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest, travelers need to purchase chimp permits. These can be got from the Uganda wildlife authority offices or through a trusted tour operator who can do so for you. The chimp permits in Budongo cost $85 only per person and it allows only one trek. Since there are two shifts with each allowing only 8 persons, only 16 chimp permits are available per day. This necessitates travelers to book their permits way in advance as they are not so many of them available.
Travelers should also note that chimp trekking is not for the young ones, only those that are 12 years and above can participate. The forest officials can go the extra mile of having a child’s birth document to verify the age. This is for the children’s safety though, as well as conservation and protection of the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest can be done all throughout the year.
The chimpanzee area in Budongo forest is managed by the Jane Goodall Institute of Research. Both chimpanzee trekking and chimp habituation can be done in the Budongo forest. Whereas chimp trekking can take place all year long, chimpanzee habituation is only possible in the dry season which doubles as the peak season. Chimpanzee habituation has travelers spending the whole day with the chimps, and the permit comes at a slightly higher cost and yet it is all worth it.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo has rules and guidelines that travelers are expected to follow for a successful trekking experience and they include among others;
- Only persons 12 years and above can take part in chimpanzee trekking
- Travelers that are sick with infectious diseases like flue shouldn’t take part in the trek
- Maximum stay with the chimps is one hour only
- Maintain a distance of 8meters away from the chimps
- Do not litter the forest
- Do not destroy vegetation just for you to have a good view
- Do not leave your group at any time
- Do not eat near the chimpanzees
Travelers are reminded to have the right packing list that includes among others good hiking boots, insect repellent creams, long sleeved shirts, waterproof jacket, waterproof backpack and others for a successful chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest experience. Binoculars for the birders could be worth carrying.
Budongo forest can be accessed by both air and road. By road, a 7 hours’ road drive from Kampala to Budongo forest in Masindi which is enroute to Murchison falls national park is very possible. You can opt to also fly into Pakuba in Murchison and then transfer to Budongo forest for those persons that have limited time to spare.
There are good accommodation facilities in Budongo forest that travelers can book and stay in for those that are doing chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest solely. Travelers who are in Murchison on a safari can book lodgings in Murchison. Irrespective of one’s budget, be sure to get it with the best service.
Apart from chimpanzee trekking, there are a number of other activities in Budongo forest that travelers can take part in say bird watching, nature hikes where they get to explore the forest and also chimpanzee habituation. Travelers can have chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest as an add-on to their safari in Murchison falls national park or a safari of its own. Whatever you decide on, get a trusted tour operator to help you plan the best package fit for just for you.