Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda – A Complete Guide

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda – A Complete Guide

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda – A Complete Guide : Are you planning a trip to Uganda to do chimpanzee trekking or just interested in learning what a chimpanzee trekking experience is like in Uganda. This guide will help you with everything you need to know about chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, from where to see chimpanzees in Uganda, how much it costs, how hard chimpanzee trekking is, what you need to bring with you and lots more.

Where can you see Chimpanzees in Africa?

Of any ape in the world, chimpanzees have one of the largest geographic distributions with territories spanning across central and western Africa. From Senegal in the west through Tanzania and Uganda in the east.

Currently there are 21 African countries which are home to wild chimpanzees that are Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

However, not all of them are necessarily safe for tourists to visit or have populations that are easily accessible, most visitors wanting to see chimpanzees in the wild visit Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. These destinations have chimpanzee groups that have become habituated to human visitors meaning you can get closer to the animals and have a better chance to see them with local guides.

Where Can you See Chimpanzees in Uganda?

Uganda offers a number of locations where you can go chimpanzee trekking and the who country is home to over 5,000 wild chimpanzees

There are four main locations in Uganda where you can go chimpanzees and these are

  • Kibale Forest National Park – This is one of the most popular places in East Africa and Uganda as well to see chimpanzees due to the large population of chimpanzees, over 1,500 in the forests. The park is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and is home to four habituated chimpanzee groups.
  • Kalinzu Forest Reserve – the reserve is situated near Queen Elizabeth National Park and is managed by Uganda National Forest Authority, the forest is home to around 300 chimpanzees with one habituated group.
  • Kyambura Gorge, Queen Elizabeth National Park – The gorge also called the valley of primates is a good location for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, the gorge is located in Queen Elizabeth National Park and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Kyambura Gorge offers an affordable chimpanzee trekking experience and is less popular than Kibale National Park, there around 30 chimpanzees in the gorge and the area is fairly small so they are normally relatively easy to find. However, if they retreat deep into the gorilla it can be a longer trek.
  • Budongo Forest Reserve – situated near Murchison Falls National Park, the reserve is home to around 700 chimpanzees with one habituated group. The Budongo Forest Reserve is managed by Uganda Lodges and the Uganda National Forest Authority.

 Also, you can see chimpanzees at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, this island is found in Lake Victoria and is home to a number of orphaned chimpanzees and can be reached by boat from Entebbe.

If you want a guaranteed chimp viewing experience with no trekking required, this is a good option. It is also a good option if you are on a tour in Uganda for a short period of time as you can visit the sanctuary from Entebbe or Kampala.

Do you Need a Permit to go Chimpanzee Trekking?

To have a good chance to see chimpanzees in Uganda, you will need to take a chimpanzee trekking tour and a chimpanzee permit is a must have.

In all the national parks managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority specially Kibale National Park and Kyambura Gorge, you need a chimpanzee trekking permit. The permit includes the cost of the chimpanzee trekking activity, guide and briefing.

For the other chimpanzee trekking destinations which are managed outside of the Uganda Wildlife Authority remit, you still need to pay for the chimpanzee trekking but is a guided tour payment rather than a permit specifically.

How Many people Go on a Chimpanzee Trek?

Chimpanzee trekking groups are limited to a small number of usually between six and eight people, multiple groups can set off at the same from the same trekking center, but they will walk separately through the forest in search of the chimpanzee groups.

If there is a large group of chimpanzees all together, then the separate trekking groups might come back together to observe the chimpanzee group and this is generally the case in Kibale.

Note: the group size might vary slightly depending on where you go chimpanzee trekking in Uganda but the group sizes are always under 10 people.

 How Likely Are you to see Chimpanzees in Uganda?

If you take a chimpanzee trek in Uganda you have a very good chance to see chimpanzees, in Kibale National Park for example. The Uganda Wildlife Authority estimates that there is around a 90% chance of seeing chimpanzees on a trek, there is a slightly lower chance of seeing the chimpanzees in Kyambura gorge as the gorge is quite long so you are unlucky they might be quite far from the trek start point. However, most groups still see them.

How Long Do You Spend with the Chimpanzees in Uganda?

When you have found the chimpanzee group, you will have one hour to spend with them. This is similar to the amount of time you get to spend with mountain gorillas on gorilla trekking in Uganda.

An hour should be plenty of time to see the chimpanzees, observe their behavior and take lots of photos. However, be aware it will feel like it goes by very quickly.

How much does it cost to go Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda?

The cost of chimpanzee trekking in Uganda varies depending on where you go trekking, from around 50 USD to 200 USD. There can also be a difference in price depending on if you a visitor, foreign resident or a Uganda resident.

Normally, these fees are only for chimpanzee trekking activity, the trek takes place in the forest reserves or national parks for which there is normally also a fees payable for entry.

The prices for chimpanzee trekking in 2024 are as follows

Kibale Forest National Park. 200 USD for foreigners, 150 USD for resident foreigners, 150,000 UGX for East African Community Residents. This fee includes national park entry on the day. Check latest prices and book online here.

Kyamburu Gorge, Queen Elizabeth National Park. 50 USD for foreigners and resident foreigners. 30,000 UGX East African Community Residents. Check latest prices and book online here.

Kalinzu Forest Reserve. 50 USD. You can book in-person on site or you can call ahead. Details are on the website here.

Budongo Forest. 120 USD / 130 USD. You can check latest prices and book online here.

Ngamba Island. From $73 USD per person. Pricing varies depending on group size and transport option. See rates here.

What is the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience?

As well as the standard chimpanzee trekking experience, in some locations such as Kibale National Park and Budongo Forest, you can book a habituation experience.

This is a more expensive experience, costing around $250 per person.

The habituation experience allows you the chance to visit a group of chimpanzees which is not fully accustomed to humans. It is a much longer experience, where you normally get to spend at least 3-4 hours with the chimpanzee family.

It is important to note that a non-habituated family is less used to humans. As such, you might not be able to get as close to the chimpanzees compared to a normal trekking experience. The chimpanzees are likely to move around, and they might not always be in sight. You will also likely have to trek further than in a regular experience.

If you are looking for a more natural experience where you can observe chimpanzees who are not so used to humans, as well as learn more about their behaviour, then the habituation experience is a good option. If you want to do this, we recommend booking as far in advance as possible, as there are fewer permits available for this activity compared to normal trekking.

Scroll to Top