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Uganda Chimpanzee Trekking Tours

4.3/5  –  274 Uganda Reviews

Chimp trekking is one of the highlights on any Uganda holiday. Imagine the adventure of heading out to track these great apes in dense rainforest. Seeing chimps in their natural habitat is a real privilege. As we share 98.8% of our DNA with chimpanzees, they are our closest relatives. Like humans, they tend to have strong personalities, and their expressive faces make their identities very recognizable to us. Their intelligence and social behavior are endlessly fascinating to observe, and no two visits to a community are the same. You might hear them before you see them; hearing a chorus of vocalizations, called pant-hooting, at close range is a spine-tingling experience you’ll never forget.

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1-20 of 394 chimp trekking tours to Uganda

6 Questions About Uganda Chimp Trekking Tours

 
 

6 Questions About Uganda Chimp Trekking Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

How does chimp trekking in Uganda compare to other countries?

“Although there are several African countries that offer chimp trekking, the activity is most popular in Uganda. Many visitors to the country go chimp trekking at least once. There are several places to do this, and the activity is easily slotted into any tour of the country. The number-one place for chimp trekking is Kibale National Park. Sightings are usually very good here, but visitor numbers can be high. To get a more exclusive experience, the beautiful Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park and the community-run Kalinzu Forest are good alternatives. Tanzania offers great chimp trekking in Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Parks, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. In these remote destinations, it’s very special, but getting here is either very expensive or time-consuming. This makes chimp trekking in Tanzania much less popular. Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda is a less-known chimp trekking destination. This high-altitude forest is remarkably accessible and is home to 13 primate species. The park is worth visiting for its natural beauty, forest hikes and biodiversity alone, and the opportunity to track chimps is a bonus. Chimp trekking in Rwanda is recommended, but sightings are more hit-and-miss than in Uganda and Tanzania. Virunga Mountains National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) offers chimpanzee trekking too, and the park is usually visited as an add-on trip from Rwanda. Due to low visitor numbers, the chimps are less habituated here.”

1

How do a chimp and a gorilla trek in Uganda compare?

“Chimp trekking is vastly underrated compared to gorilla trekking. This may be due to the huge size of gorillas, which makes these gentle giants so overwhelming to be around. But the experiences are similar. On both activities, your ranger will give you a briefing before you head out with a small group of visitors. Once you’ve found the primates, you’ll get a full hour to observe them. The main difference is that gorillas are overall less active. The young ones might play, but the adults usually feed or rest. Whereas a troop of gorillas always stays together, chimp communities are more fluid. They often break up into sub groups, which spend time apart to reunite later. There always seems to be something going on in a chimp community; an alpha male trying to take over, a youngster throwing a tantrum, males patrolling their territory and, occasionally, a hunt. Although this makes chimp watching very rewarding, it also makes it trickier than spending time with gorillas. When on the move, chimps are difficult to follow; their nimble bodies move easily through the vegetation whereas we struggle to get through. Chimps spend more time high up in trees compared to gorillas and that can make viewing more difficult too. Having said that, the guides work really hard to ensure you get a good sighting and a few good photo opportunities. Last but not least is the price difference; the gorilla trekking fee is US$700 per person and chimp trekking in Kibale is US$200, and less in other parks.”

2

What fitness is required for chimp trekking in Uganda?

“You will require a reasonable amount of fitness for chimpanzee trekking. Every day is different though, and some days the trek is more strenuous than other days. Chimps have big territories, and you might be lucky to find them after 30 minutes or it might take two hours. You get to spend an hour with the chimps and this experience is very variable too. They might be stationary, feeding or resting, or they might be on the move. Contrary to gorillas, chimpanzees move very fast through the forest undergrowth and trying to keep up with them can be a great challenge. The unpredictability adds to the adventure and most people walk away with an amazing experience. Whatever your fitness, you’ll need proper gear; wear good hiking shoes, a lightweight rain jacket and long trousers. A walking stick helps on slippery slopes. If you are uncertain of your fitness, you can hire a porter. They will carry your bag with water, snacks and a camera, and they are also a great at helping you navigate the difficult terrain.”

3

Is chimp trekking in Uganda safe?

“Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is very safe. The chimpanzees are very habituated and they know that humans pose no threat to them. You’ll be given a safety briefing before you head out and one of the rules is to maintain the recommended 8m/26ft distance from the chimps. As long as you listen to the instructions given by your guide, you’ll have nothing to worry about. Furthermore, Uganda as a country is a safe travel destination in our opinion. 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 have nothing to worry about.”

More information on safety in Uganda 4

What do Uganda chimp trekking packages cost?

“Chimp trekking costs US$200 in Kibale NP, US$50 in Kyambura Gorge, US$30 in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, US$50 in Kalinzu Forest and US$100 in Budongo Forest. When booking an organized tour, these fees are included in the overall price. A 3-day trip including chimp trekking in Kibale NP costs about US$800 per person. And a 10-day Uganda highlights tour, including chimp and gorilla trekking, as well as savannah safaris in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks, costs around US$4,300 per person. These prices are just guidelines as they depend on the level of accommodation on your tour. Use the filters on the SafariBookings website to select budget, mid-range and luxury options. Shared camping tours are cheapest, but there are budget private tours available too. Mid-range accommodation ranges from no-frills hotels and guesthouses to simple tented camps, but there are some lavish luxury establishments in the country too.”

5

Are chimp sightings guaranteed on a Uganda chimp trek?

“The success rate of finding the chimps in Uganda depends on where you go on a chimp trek. Although habituated, the chimpanzees are totally wild. They move daily in search of food and they make a new nest every night wherever they end up. All in all, these nimble primates are less sedentary than gorillas and sightings are altogether more variable. In Kibale NP, sightings are almost guaranteed. With a lot of visitor activity as well as research groups operating here, the guides usually have a good idea of where the chimps are at any time. Kalinzu Forest is most popular with budget travelers and chimp sightings are almost as reliable as in Kibale NP. Kyambura Gorge and Budongo Forest are less-reliable chimp trekking destinations, but if you do get to see chimps, the experience is as rewarding. Unfortunately, chimp trekking in the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve has never really taken off. Your chances of seeing chimps here are slim at this point.”

6

Uganda Reviews

4.3/5 274 Reviews
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.

Great apes, great landscapes, great adventures
4/5

Most people understandably come to Uganda for its mountain gorillas – half of the world’s population of around 730 lives in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and spending that precious hour with them has become a “must-do” for...

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Expert
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for CNN Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

Fantastic wildlife and some of the friendliest people in Africa make Uganda unbeatable
5/5

I spent a month travelling around Uganda with a self-drive, expedition-prepared Landcruiser and visited almost every national park in the country. Uganda was a revelation! I had not expected such a richness of wildlife or such great...

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Jiri Machacek  –  
Czech Republic CZ
Reviewed: Sep 26, 2022
Uganda is an interesting safari destination but its wildlife is obviously under a great pressure
4/5

I think Uganda is not for someone who suppose to have just one East Africa safari tour in his/her life. For such people Kenya/Tanzania are better options. Uganda is about some special animal (shoebill, chimps, gorillas, other primates,...

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PI  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: Sep 19, 2022
Enlightening, surprisingly safe, amazing nature and kind people.
5/5

Travelling in dry August was a great decision, no mosquitos!, still green savanna and animals everywhere to see. The accommodations, although partly on budget, were clean, safe and offered delicious food. Every person we met was kind and...

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Padraig  –  
Ireland IE
Reviewed: Sep 18, 2022
Uganda is without doubt an experience you will never forget and never want too.
5/5

An overall wonderful experience filled with friendly helpful people, never forget wildlife and scenery which will leave you breathless. Whether it is the falls at Muchison NP, do the hike it is so worth it or the Chimps of Kibale or the...

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Panagiota Marouli  –  
Greece GR
Reviewed: Sep 2, 2022
Unspoiled and true Africa!
5/5

We went on a tour with Home to Africa that was custom made for us and loved everything about it. Very professional agency from start to end. It is funny how pick season in Uganda means hardly any tourist vehicles around you! We only got to...

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