Uganda is home to over 5000 chimpanzees – the highest number in East Africa. It’s also the best country to go track or see these awe-inspiring primates in the region because not only does it have a high chimps population, but also several places where you can find them.
However, with multiple places to view the chimps, you might be spoilt for choice on where to go exactly.
So we’re here to make the decision easier for you by explaining what the experience entails in each location…
SKIP TO A SECTION
1. Kibale forest in Kibale National Park
This rainforest has five habituated groups that you can track for 3-4 hours either in the morning or afternoon, and after finding them, spend an hour watching them. But, if you’re interested in spending more time with them, you can go witness the chimpanzee habituation process whereby you can spend an entire day observing the chimps in their habitat.
Kibale national park is the best place to track chimps in Uganda because, on top of it having the highest number of chimpanzees in Uganda at approximately 1,500, you can easily find them since they don’t tend to move deep inside the forest. Besides, you’ll be able to see other primates while trekking, like the red-tailed monkeys and blue monkeys, plus a diversity of birds and butterflies in the Bigodi Swamp Sanctuary.
2. Kalinzu forest in Bushenyi District
Tracking chimps in this forest is similar to doing so in the Kibale forest because you can quickly find them. The other good thing about Kalinzu forest is that you can get to see other primates like Baboons, Vervet monkeys, Blue monkeys, Black and White Colobus monkeys as well as different birds and butterfly species. But unlike in the Kibale forest, there is no chimpanzee habituation experience in this one.
And besides that, there is no formal accommodation for tourists here, but since this forest is situated near Queen Elizabeth national park on your way from Kibale, it’s easier to find accommodation in QENP.
3. Budongo forest in Murchison Falls National Park
You can track chimps here in a place filled with ancient trees called Kaniyo-Pabidi. However, finding the chimpanzees in this forest is sometimes hard, especially during the dry season (June-Aug & Dec-Feb) when food is scarce since the apes tend to move deep inside the forest searching for what to eat.
But just like in Kibale forest, it’s possible to track the chimpanzees both in the morning and afternoon, and also enjoy the chimpanzee habituation experience. Moreover, you can match up the experience with a game park drive through the Murchison falls national park to see 4 of the Big Five – elephants, lions, buffalo, and hippos as well as take a boat cruise to the bottom of the breathtaking Murchison Falls.
4. Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Although the chances of seeing the chimps in this gorge are 50-50, the spectacular scenery in the valley make up for you tracking the chimpanzees in vain. Since the trek entails walking through a thick forest with cascading cliffs in the backdrop and crossing rivers and streams in search of the chimpanzees in this “Valley of Apes”.
To compensate for the possibility of not being able to see the chimps here, most tourists combine visiting Kyambura Gorge with tracking chimps in Kalinzu forest. This is because they don’t want to miss out on delighting in the beauty of the gorge.
5. Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve in Kabarole and Ntoroko districts
Within this reserve that’s surrounded by the rift valley escarpment, the Rwenzori Mountains, and Congo’s Blue Mountains, you can take a 3-4 hour primate walk in search of mainly the chimpanzees. Other primates you can encounter include black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, and baboons.
Besides that, you can go on a game drive in Toro-Semuliki and enjoy sightings of the Uganda kob, warthogs, elephants, and buffalo. Also, you can enjoy traditional dances at the Karugutu Community Conservation Association and take a boat cruise along Lake Albert, seeing birds like the shoebills and the African Pygmy Goose.
6. Kinyampanika chimp trail in Rwenzori Mountains National Park
On this mountain trail, which was opened by the Kinyampanika Chimpanzee Conservation and Development Association (KICHIDA), you can get to see the unhabituated chimps in their natural habitat. This is the only place officially designated for viewing these ever-moving wild primates in Uganda as the area is small, enabling you to easily track them.
You’ll also enjoy bird watching and the striking scenery of the towering snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains as you track the chimpanzees on this trail. And besides that, your decision to see the chimps in this park will enable the association to get the necessary funds to continue protecting these apes plus improve the locals’ livelihoods.
7. Ngamba Island Sanctuary
Unlike in the other seven places where you have to track the chimpanzees in a forest, here you’ll simply see the primates from a designated location within the sanctuary. This is the best place to view chimps if you’re pressed for time in the country or have children below 12 years of age that would love to see chimpanzees.
Because there are no age limitations to accessing the reserve, and you can tour it within half a day or enjoy a day-long stay. And other great things about opting for this tour are getting the opportunity to help the caretakers prepare food for the chimps and taking a boat cruise across the equator to and fro from the island.
Go see chimpanzees in Uganda
Now that you know the best places to trek or see chimps in Uganda, you can choose your favorite(s) and go enjoy the exciting experience of viewing these apes as they interact with each other in their natural habitat.