Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park
Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale national park is one of the most done tourist activity in Uganda by travelers that visit that country. Kibale National Park is a lush forest cover that is located in western Uganda in the district of Kabarole just near Fort portal town. It covers an area size of 776 square kilometers and contains montane and lowland forest cover. Declared a national park in 1993, Kibale National Park inhabits a lot of flora and fauna that has tourist coming from far and wide to visit. With over 325 bird species that include the dusky crimson wing among so many others, the park is indeed a birder haven. The park has a great number of primates that include red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys, olive baboons, great numbers of chimpanzees among others. It is the chimpanzees that are inhabited in Kibale forest that has numerous tourists visiting the park to take part in chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park, the primate capital of the world.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park is possible due to the great numbers of chimpanzees that call the park home. With about 1500 chimpanzees, Kibale is indeed the premium chimpanzee tracking location in the 21 countries of Africa that inhabit the chimps.
Chimpanzee trekking is an activity that has tourists hiking the forest cover in search of the chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The chimpanzees in the park are wild and to have them comfortable to accommodate human presence and interaction, a habituation process has to take place. It is the habituated chimpanzees that tourists get to track while in Kibale. The chimpanzees live in groups that range from 10-100 individuals and there are four chimpanzee groups in Kibale that tourists can visit on a daily basis and spend an hour with them. The chimpanzee groups include the Kanyawara group that has 50-60 individuals, the Sebitoli community, the Kanyanchu chimpanzee group which is the very first to be tracked by tourists back in 1993 and the fourth chimpanzee group can be found in the idle of the park and it has 200 or more individuals.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park starts at 8 am from Kanyanchu visitor center from where tourists are met by the park rangers who brief them on their activity in hand, group and allocate the chimpanzee group to track and then embark on the search of the chimpanzees in the natural habitat. The trek takes about 2-5 hours depending on the location of the chimpanzee group and the terrain. Upon encountering the chimpanzees, tourists are allowed one hour with the chimpanzees which are oftentimes found jumping from one tree branch to another making noise, feeding on leaves, fruits, shoots, roots and insects, and also grooming and some resting. After spending one hour with them, tourists trek back to the visitor center. The trek is approximately 12kms in total.
To be able to do chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park, tourists need to purchase chimp permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices or through a reputable tour operator at a cost of $200 for foreign non-residents and residents and UGX150,000 for East African citizens which will be effective July 2020. Booking chimpanzee permits way in advance is advised as they are highly demanded and sell out very fast.
Having the right chimpanzee tracking gear will help you have a wonderful experience, some of the items recommended include;
- Good hiking shoes with a good grip
- A rain jacket for if it rains
- Long sleeved shirts to cover your arms from the scratchy and long vegetation that can be reactive.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses for when the weather is really hot
- A backpack to safe-keep your property
- Insect repellent creams
- Energy giving snacks and enough water
- A good camera for pictures
There are rules and regulations that are laid out for the safety of the tourists and the conservation of the chimpanzees and their natural habitat and they include;
- Tourists below the age of 12 cannot track the chimpanzees
- Sick persons with infectious diseases like flu shouldn’t take part in chimpanzee tracking
- Maintain an 8-meter distance away from the chimpanzees
- Do not eat in front of the chimps, they can attack you to snatch away what you are eating
- Do not use flash cameras when taking pictures and videos
- Do not make noise, the chimps can mistake your sounds and then attack
- Always keep within your group
- Do not litter the park, leave it as you found it. Place rubbish in the availed rubbish cans or carry it with you back to the park headquarters from where you can dispose of them
- Do not make unnecessary signs or body language.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park can be done all year long. The dry season which is the peak season as well is the most recommended as the roads and paths are more accessible and less slippery. The dry season runs through June-September and December to February. The other months are considered as the wet season and low season. Tourists visiting in this period can have great discounts on their chimpanzee safari packages as the rates of lodges are low, and they also get to have a less crowded park and the chimps are easily found as they do not move distances to search for food due to abundancy.
There are great accommodation facilities in Kibale National Park that all tourists can choose from. From luxury to basic/budget lodging options, tourists can rest assured of great service, delicious organic food, and very comfortable sleeping areas. Booking accommodation should be done as soon as possible, mostly if planning to travel during the peak season.
Kibale National Park can be reached from Kampala by road in a 4 hours’ drive via Mubende and Fort portal in the north and if one wants to get to the southern part of the park, the Kampala-Mbarara-Kamwenge route can be used. The park can be accessed by air with charter flights from Entebbe or Kampala to Kasese airstrip and then be driven to the park.
Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park is a thrilling activity that travelers can take part in. they can have other activities in the park be added on their chimpanzee tracking safari, say chimpanzee habituation which has tourists spending a whole day with wild gorillas that are being trained to accommodate human interaction, bird watching, nature walks that have you exploring the park in-depth and on foot where you can encounter a number of primates and animals like the elephants and also the local people. Having a Primate Safari to Kibale and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a great way for tourists to see both the chimpanzees and gorillas in Uganda. Get in touch with a trusted tour operator to help you plan out the best chimpanzee safari to Kibale National Park.