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Tanzania Chimpanzee Trekking Tours

Chimp trekking is a great addition to any safari in Tanzania. Although chimpanzees are our closest relatives, chimp trekking isn’t publicized to the same extent as gorilla trekking. In essence, the experience is quite similar though. Chimps are highly intelligent social creatures, and observing them at close quarters is endlessly fascinating, especially since a lot of their behavior is so recognizable to us. Chimps have very strong personalities and being able to read their facial expressions makes any encounter very emotional. When tracking chimpanzees, the guide will often stop and listen for their calls. Hearing their distinctive pant-hooting close by is a spine-tingling experience you’ll never forget.

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6 Questions About Tanzania Chimp Trekking Tours

 
 

6 Questions About Tanzania Chimp Trekking Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

How does chimp trekking in Tanzania compare to other countries?

“Tanzania arguably offers the best chimp trekking in Africa. Two parks in Tanzania offer this incredible experience: Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Parks. Both parks have an idyllic location on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Rift Valley. Mornings are spent tracking chimps and afternoons are best for relaxing on the lakeshore, sailing or fishing. While you couldn’t invent a better set-up, getting here is time-consuming or very expensive. For these reasons alone, chimp trekking in Tanzania is very exclusive, mostly enjoyed on high-end luxury tours. Chimp trekking in Uganda is overall more accessible and affordable, and therefore more popular. As there are several places in Uganda offering chimp trekking, this experience is easily slotted into any Uganda tour. Chimp trekking in Kibale National Park is very reliable, but visitor numbers can get high. In Rwanda, you can go chimp tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park. This is a very worthwhile destination as it is home to 13 primate species with lovely forest trails and a canopy walk, but chimp sightings are less predictable than in Uganda and Tanzania. You can also track chimps in Virunga Mountains National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is usually visited as an add-on from Rwanda.”

1

Can I add a chimp trek in Tanzania to a safari?

“Most visitors to Tanzania won’t come to the country for chimp trekking alone, so it makes total sense to add a chimp trek to a classic safari. Chimp trekking in Mahale Mountains is often combined with a stay in Katavi, a remote national park offering superb wildlife viewing with huge numbers of lion, buffalo and elephant, and rivers packed with hippos. This Western safari circuit combo is mostly done as a fly-in safari, and regular flights between the two parks make it an attractive option. While this is a winning combination, there is nothing stopping you from adding your chimp trek to a safari in the Serengeti either, especially if you’re aiming to see the wildebeest migration. Chimp trekking in Gombe is just as good, but getting here is even more tricky, especially as an add-on to a safari. A charter flight is your best bet, but it is also possible to take a motor boat from Kigoma.”

2

What fitness level is required?

“You need to be reasonably fit to go chimp trekking in Tanzania. The terrain in both chimp trekking parks (Gombe and Mahale Mountains) is very hilly, so expect to do some climbing. However, every trek is different and the chimps might be far away or very close by. If you’re lucky, they might even walk through camp. When you find the chimps, you get to spend an hour with them. No two sightings are the same. They might be feeding up in the trees or they might be on the ground, resting and grooming each other. Occasionally they are on the move, and following these fast creatures is always strenuous. Whether you’re fit or not, you should always come prepared. Wear good hiking boots, long trousers and a rainproof jacket. You’ll be offered a wooden walking stick, which can be very useful on slippery slopes. Also consider hiring a porter to help you carry your daypack. Not only will that make the experience more enjoyable for you, but it also creates much-needed job opportunities for local people.”

3

Is chimp trekking in Tanzania safe?

“Chimp trekking in Tanzania can be considered very safe. You’ll visit a habituated chimp community and incidents are extremely rare. The chimps are used to humans and they know we are no threat to them. As long as you maintain a safe distance from the chimps (as instructed by your guide), you have nothing to worry about. You’ll also get a safety briefing before your trek. In our opinion, Tanzania as a country is a very safe destination. Crime in any of the parks or reserves is very rare. As is the case all over the world, there is some crime in the cities, but as long as you book with a reputable operator, you’ll be shielded from any potential problems.”

More about Tanzania Safety & Security 4

How much will this trip cost?

“The chimp trekking fee in Mahale Mountains and Gombe consists of a park entrance fee of US$100 per person per day and US$20 per person for the guided walk. This doesn’t include your accommodation or other costs. When booking an organized tour, the park fees are included in the overall price. Due to the remote location of the parks, most people stay at least a couple of days. The price of a 4-day budget package to Gombe is about US$1,100 per person and to Mahale about US$2,600. Most people will include a stay at Mahale or Gombe in a larger tour. An 8-day luxury fly-in tour combining Mahale with the Serengeti or Katavi starts at around US$7,000 per person.”

5

Are chimp sightings guaranteed?

“Chimp sightings in Gombe and Mahale Mountains are almost guaranteed. They can’t ever be completely guaranteed though. The chimps are wild and they live in huge territories. These nimble primates move big distances in search of food, and at the end of the day they make a nest for the night. So their whereabouts are always unpredictable. The trackers work hard to find them daily for the guests. They leave early in the morning, and by the time you leave for your trek, your guide might already have been notified of the chimps’ location. If the chimps are on the move, it can be more challenging as their location keeps changing and in that case it might be up to your fitness level and ability whether you can catch up with them. However, most packages to Mahale and Gombe include chimp treks on several days, which hugely increases your chances of excellent chimp watching.”

6

Tanzania Reviews

4.8/5 1564 Reviews
Expert
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Much More than a Migration Destination
5/5

For me, Tanzania is a country of two halves. Both hemispheres have been richly endowed with natural beauty and plentiful wildlife, but there are some big differences when it comes to the type of safari experience you’re looking for. The...

Full Review

Expert
Sue Watt  –  
United Kingdom UK

Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.

The perfect safari destination
5/5

With almost a quarter of this vast country dedicated to wildlife reserves and national parks, Tanzania is justifiably regarded as Africa’s premier safari destination. It’s one of my favourite countries, not just for the bush, beaches...

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Roger Cederholm  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Apr 12, 2024
The wildlife is amazing and the people are friendly
4/5

Our tour was made with Soul of Tanzania, which fits perfectly. Our guide asked me what was important for our trip and then made sure that we checked off everything on the list. Wildebeest/Zebra migration is inspiring, the hippopotamuses...

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Maazen  –  
Saudi Arabia SA
Reviewed: Apr 12, 2024
Maz & Gaby in Paradise
5/5

We had a trip of a lifetime combining beach and safari adventures. It’s a very relaxed environment that makes you forget all your worries. People were so kind and hospitable. The country is gifted with beautiful beaches, mountains, safari...

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Larissa Weyll  –  
Brazil BR
Reviewed: Apr 10, 2024
Best safari in the world!
5/5

We chose Tanzania as our honeymoon destination. The trip was a dream come true! Mama Savana (our tour operator) was perfect and we were able to see the most amazing animals and we had the most amazing experiences in the safari at the...

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Shamsuddoha E Kabir  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Apr 7, 2024
A very Friendly Nation
5/5

Actually the Tour was superb but it wouldn’t have been possible if not for the Tour Operator “Meru Slopes Tours” so friendly and helping. Whatever we wanted to do they tried to accommodate it’s like if we were happy they were happy...

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