Chimpanzee trekking in Africa is a unique and rare experience because of the endangered global status of the primates, and yet the activity is one of the must-do activities for every enthusiastic tourist.
It brings you closer to the closest relatives to man, having a DNA match of about 98% to 99%. Thus, exploring the Chimpanzees in the African rainforests and tropical forests will allow you to discover some similar human traits in them and watch other primate species.
East Africa is the major home for excellent Chimpanzee trekking in Africa, as it protects a large number of these most endangered species. Visit Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania for this thrilling adventure!
Jane Goodall devoted herself to research about and protecting the Chimpanzees and much of the knowledge about these primates is from her findings.
Kibale National Park in Uganda holds the highest number of Chimpanzees and primate species in Africa which is about 1,500 Chimpanzees and 13 species of different primates including the Chimpanzees.
Other famous destinations to go for African Chimpanzee trekking include Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo, and Mahale Mountain National Park or Gombe National Park in Tanzania.
African Chimpanzee trekking is usually combined with the Gorilla trekking experience to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to visit the endangered Mountain Gorillas for more authentic primate safaris.
Mountain Gorilla trekking is only done in Bwindi Impenetrable NP and the parks in the Virunga Conservation Area. These are Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
Note that even though Chimpanzee trekking and the Gorilla trekking experience are common East of Africa, primate watching can be done all across Africa.
Discover the thrill of Chimpanzee trekking and Gorilla trekking in these ancient rainforests and tropical forests to watch these primates in their natural habitat. Book your primate safari today for this life-changing Chimpanzee trekking experience!
Africa is home to many primate species and most of these primates carry a DNA similarity with humans, that is, about 98%. Because these primates are majorly herbivores mammals, they live in lush rainforests feeding on leaves, shoots, fruits, flowers, and soft bamboo. They usually use tools to get food.
Below, we look at the most sought-after primates of the continent.
All the subspecies of Chimpanzees in Africa fall under the one specie called the Common species. These subspecies include the,
They are native to Central Africa and Eastern Africa and you can see them in Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan.
The Eastern Chimpanzees are the most explored in the African continent, famously seen at Kibale National Park.
These are native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Gabon.
Also known as the West African Chimpanzee, these subspecies of the Common Chimpanzee species are native to countries in West Africa including Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
These Chimpanzees can only be seen in the rainforests on the borders of Cameroon and Nigeria.
Gorillas in Africa are classified into the Mountain Gorillas and the Lowland Gorillas which are further divided into the Eastern and the Western Lowland Gorillas. The Mountain Gorillas live in family groups headed by a Silverback and some of these groups are habituated for the Gorilla trekking experience.
Mountain Gorilla trekking is only possible in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the three national parks in the Virunga region. These other Virunga parks to see the Mountain Gorillas during Gorilla trekking are Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, DR Congo’s Virunga National Park, and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park holds almost half of the world population of these Mountain Gorillas which is about 459 out of the global approximated total of 1,063. Thus, making Bwindi Impenetrable National Park the best place for Gorilla trekking.
The rest of the Mountain Gorilla family groups and the population is in the national parks in the Virunga Region. Therefore, the Gorilla trekking experience can only be done in three countries in the whole world and these are Uganda, Rwanda at Volcanoes National Park (a UNESCO Site), and DR Congo.
Unlike the Mountain Gorillas that live in Mountainous and hilly areas, the Lowland Gorilla species live in lowlands. This makes lowland Gorilla trekking much easier than trekking Mountain Gorillas.
The lowland Gorillas of Africa are divided into the Eastern Lowland Gorilla species and the Western Lowland Gorilla species.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla species are endemic to the forests in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla trekking tours to go watch the Eastern lowland Gorillas in DR Congo can be done in Kahuzi Biega NP and Maiko NP.
Western Lowland Gorilla species are the highest in number among all the Gorilla species, even though their exact number is not known. They are spread in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon.
Therefore, travelers who seek to watch both the Mountain Gorillas and the Lowland Gorillas on their can save money by going for Gorilla trekking safaris in DR Congo where they can trek both species.
Bonobos are also known as the Pygmy Chimpanzees and they were once classified together with the common Chimpanzees. Further research found them to e different from the common Chimpanzees.
Bonobos are also known to be closer to humans than any other primates with a DNA similarity of 99%.
You can find them in DR Congo and Central Africa and they are also a good combination to your Chimpanzee or Gorilla trekking adventures.
Africa boasts many Monkey species including among others the Golden Monkey species which together with the Mountain Gorillas, are endemic to the Virunga Conservation Area. Thus, visitors on Gorilla trekking tours can also add Golden Monkey trekking to their itinerary.
Other common Monkey species to see in Africa during your Chimpanzee trekking or Gorilla trekking tours include.
Chimpanzee tracking is a safari activity that involves walking in the forested mountain slopes and other natural habitat of the Chimpanzees to search for a Chimpanzee family to spend time with.
The activity involves using tracks left by the Chimpanzees to find them, for example, the foot and finger marks, food remains, and waste.
Chimpanzee trekking starts very early in the morning with a briefing from a knowledgeable and professional guide about the guidelines of the activity.
The primate walk will allow you to discover other amazing primates along the way for example the Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Grey Cheeked Mangabeys, and the Red Tailed Monkeys among others.
You will also meet various other wildlife species like plants, wild animals like forest Elephants, and bird species while you enjoy this activity.
With the various destinations for Chimpanzee treks in Africa, we look at the best destinations that will give you the most incredible experiences. Below are these top destinations.
Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo are the top countries for most primate tours in Africa, including Chimpanzee trekking. Let us discuss them below.
Uganda stands as the best Chimpanzee trekking destination in Africa and the activity is among the most sought-after in the country.
The activity in Uganda is mainly done in Kibale Forest National Park due to it having the highest number of Chimpanzees and primate species in Africa.
However, there are other remarkable destinations to enjoy this experience in Uganda apart from Kibale Forest and they include,
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park located in South Western Uganda is among the best destinations for trekking these primates in Africa. Kibale National Park harbors the highest number of Chimpanzees in the country which is over 1500 with about 120 habituated Chimps, called the Kanyanchu Visitor Center. Due to this large number, the Chimpanzee trek is easy, and the Chimps, are easier to find.
While Chimp trekking in the natural habitat of the Chimpanzees, you will get to see other primates for example the different monkey species.
In the park, Chimpanzee trekking starts at the Kanyanchu Visitor Center at 8:00 am after a briefing from a professional guide and it takes about 2 to 3 hours.
Chimpanzee treks in Murchison Falls National Park occur in Budongo Forest, Kaniyo Pabidi, and Rabongo Forest. There are over 600 Chimpanzees in these forests, and you will also enjoy other special activities in the destination for example birding to see the various bird species and nature walks.
October to January is the best time for a Chimpanzee trek in Murchison Falls National Park as it will be easier to locate the primates and move on the drier tracks. This is also a great season for Gorilla trekking in the country.
This is the most famous destination for a Chimp trekking safari in Murchison Falls National Park. It holds 80% more Chimps than Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The National Forestry Authority provides Chimpanzee trekking in the forest and the activity is done twice a day that is in the morning and the afternoon.
With the help of your tour guide, you will go through the forest to seek various other species apart from the Chimps species like the various bird species Olive Baboons, Monkeys, and many others.
Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the most famous safari destination in Uganda is an outstanding activity that occurs in the Kyambura Gorge.
Chimpanzees in the park are part of the 10 primate species of the park. The park also boasts 95 mammal species (counting the tree climbing Lions in the Ishasha sector found in the southern part of the park) and over 600 bird species.
Kyambura Gorge protects only one Chimpanzee family in a forested valley in the Eastern part of the park also known as the “Valley of Apes”.
With the help of a professional and knowledgeable guide, you will be able to track these habituated Chimps and along the way, you will also meet other primates like the Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboons, and Red Tailed Monkeys.
Additionally, you will discover various bird species in Kyambura Gorge during your Chimpanzee trekking adventure. Many travelers to Kyambura combine their tours with Gorilla trekking.
Kalinzu Forest, which is in Bushenyi District in the South Western part of Uganda. The forest protects various Chimpanzee species including habituated Chimpanzees for tracking.
There are over 379 bird species in the forest and other primates including Galagoes, Bush babies, and Pottos. You may also add Gorilla trekking to your Chimpanzee excursions in Kalinzu Forest.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is found on the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe and it was started by Jane Goodall to save injured and orphaned Chimpanzees.
The sanctuary began in 1998 with 13 Chimpanzees, but there are now over 50 Chimpanzees in it.
There are two sessions in which you can visit the Chimpanzees in Ngamba Island and these are in the morning and at 5 pm.
The cost of seeing Chimpanzees at Ngamba Island depends on the number of people in the group. Smaller groups usually pay more than more groups.
Children who are 5 to 15 years usually pay half the cost paid by adults.
At Ngamba Island, there are other activities that you can perform for example Swimming, Fishing, Birding, and exploring other villages.
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is easier since the primates live in the lower altitudes of the forests compared to the Mountain Gorillas that live in the higher altitudes, making Gorilla trekking more strenuous.
It is best to track in the dry season when the tracks are dry thus easy Chimpanzee trekking. In the wet season, the forest trails are slippery and thus harder to pass through. The dry season is also good for Gorilla trekking.
Apart from the Chimpanzees, other primates for you to see in the country include
This incredible safari activity occurs in Rwanda Nyungwe National Park/Nyungwe Forest National Park and Gishwati Mukura NP when you go Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda. The rich destination protects some of the largest Montane rainforest belts in the East of Africa.
The forest has different groups of habituated Chimpanzees that you can visit on your Chimpanzee trekking safari. However, there are various other primates in the park including the L’Hoest’s Monkey and the Ruwezori Colobus.
Other wildlife species in the park include over 85 mammal species, 310 bird species, and 1,050 plant species that includes 200 species of Orchid.
Additionally, the park offers some of the best scenic experiences in Africa through the canopy walk on a canopy that suspends to about 40 meters high. Travelers to Nyungwe for Chimp tracking usually add Gorilla trekking to Volcanoes NP on their itinerary.
The best time to go Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest NP is in the dry season from December through February and June to September. This season is also great for Gorilla trekking as the tracks to go meet the Mountain Gorillas are usually dry.
However, the activity is also possible in the wet season.
Chimpanzee trekking in DR Congo occurs in Virunga National Park in the Mahura Forest and Kahuzi Biega NP.
DR Congo is a rich primate-watching destination thus you will be able to view various other primates like while for your trekking adventure for example the Vervet Monkeys, Mountain Gorillas during Gorilla trekking, Golden Monkeys, and Bonobos among others in addition to watching various bird species.
Chimpanzee trekking starts at Virunga National Park in the morning with a briefing session where you will be put in groups of about 6 people.
You will then walk through the forest to look for the primates in their natural habitat after which you will spend an hour with them.
The best time to go on Chimpanzee trekking safaris in DR Congo is in the dry months from June, July, and October, which is also the best time for Gorilla trekking in the country.
Two national parks in Tanzania are the major destinations for Chimpanzee treks and these are Mahale Mountain National Park and Gombe National Park.
Chimpanzee trekking in Mahale Mountain National Park involves you moving through the forest’s mountainous landscape to visit a Chimpanzee group.
Mahale Mountain National Park is a special Chimpanzee home because it is the only place where you will find the Chimpanzees and Lions living together.
At Mahale Mountain National Park/ Mahale Mountains National Park, you will get to study their human-like behaviors upon meeting and spending some time with them.
Gombe National Park is famous for being a research center for the conservationist and primatologist Jane Goodall. Jane extensively studied the behaviors of these primates at Gombe National Park / Gombe Stream National Park.
Within the thick forest of Gombe National Park, you will also meet other primates such as the Vervet Monkeys and the Black and White Colobus Monkey species in addition to various bird species.
Chimpanzee habituation is more like Chimpanzee trekking only that in the habituation experience, you spend more hours with the Chimps so that they get used to human presence.
Travelers on Chimpanzee habituation take about 6 hours with the Chimps and the whole process to make the family used to human presence takes about 2 to 3 years.
In Uganda, the Chimpanzee habituation experience takes place in Kibale Forest National Park and it costs USD 250 for foreign nonresidents, USD 200 for foreign residents, and UGX 200,000 for East African Citizens.
Below, look at the differences between Chimpanzee trekking and Chimpanzee habituation.
|Chimpanzee Trekking||Chimpanzee Habituation|
|1||You spend a shorter time with the Chimps, that is, 1 hour||You spend more time that is 6 hours with the Chimps when for the Chimpanzee habituation|
|2||The activity is done in a habituated group||Chimpanzee habituation is done on wild Chimpanzees to habituate them|
|3||This is mostly done by tourists||Chimpanzee habituation is mostly done by professionals, but tourists can follow them|
|4||The Chimp trekking permit is USD 150||A Chimpanzee habituation permit costs USD 250, making it more costly|
Chimp trekking and Gorilla trekking are both popular tourist attraction activities and among the most done and sought-after in Africa.
Both Chimpanzee tracking and the Gorilla trek are amazing and thrilling rewarding you with the most beautiful experiences. However, depending on a traveler’s experiences and taste in whether to do Chimpanzee treks or Gorilla trekking, they can consider the best activity to do depending on the following factors.
Chimp tracking permit is cheaper than the Gorilla trekking permit/Gorilla permits in all the African Chimpanzee trekking safari and Gorilla trekking destinations. Due to the higher costs of the Gorilla permits, this thus makes Gorilla trekking destinations more favorable for luxury travelers and Chimp tracking, for budget travelers.
Due to the altitudes in which these primates stay, the Chimpanzee trek is quite easier in the lower altitudes than Gorilla trekking which takes place in the higher altitudes due to the nature of the Gorilla family groups living in the higher altitudes or forested mountain slopes.
Gorilla trekking is especially strenuous in the national parks in the Virunga region like Volcanoes National Park, in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla NP in Uganda, and Virunga NP, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site in DR Congo.
Both the Chimpanzee trek and Gorilla trekking to meet Mountain Gorillas have a range of activities that you can add to them in the different countries. However, the variety of activities to do with Chimpanzee or Gorilla trekking depends on the destination you visit and the experiences you would like to have as different countries offer unique experiences.
Much as both Chimpanzees and Mountain Gorillas are endangered animals, the Chimpanzees are more in number than the Mountain Gorillas thus making them easier to access. However, the unique and lower number of Gorillas make Gorilla trekking the most popular tourist attraction because many tourists would like to watch the rare species.
The best time for primate watching, for example, Chimpanzee trekking and Gorilla trekking is in the dry season which runs from June to September and January through February.
The dry season has lesser rainfall, thus, making the forest trails dry for easier Chimp and Gorilla trekking adventures, unlike the wet season when the tracks are slippery and harder to pass through.
Explore Africa Chimpanzee trekking through a tailor-made safari package that also includes Gorilla trekking. Below are some of these packages.
A Chimpanzee tracking permit is a legal document that the body in charge of Chimp trekking excursions in a country (i.e. the Uganda Wildlife Authority in the case of Uganda) gives to travelers who have paid for the activity.
The Chimpanzee trekking permits are printed daily but in a limited number to limit the number of people that come for the activity. This is so because it limits the risks of the primates contracting human diseases when people overcrowd the parks.
Tour operators are more conversant with the right procedures to booking the Chimpanzee trekking permits and they will help you with it.
Kindly note that you cannot interchange the permits, and getting a refund for a bought permit is quite hard, depending on the terms and conditions.
The cost of the Chimpanzee tracking permit differs in different countries and the different trekking destinations therein.
The Chimpanzee trekking permit in Uganda is sold by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Below are the costs charged by the Uganda Wildlife Authority in the different destinations.
How Much is Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park? USD 200 for foreign nonresidents, USD 100 for foreign residents, and 150,000 Uganda Shillings for East African Citizens.
How Much is Chimpanzee Trekking in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura Gorge? USD 50 for foreign nonresidents, USD 40 for foreign residents, 30,000 Uganda Shillings for East African Citizens.
Budongo Forest Reserve: USD 90 for Foreign nonresidents.
Nyungwe Forest Park/ Nyungwe National Park: The Chimpanzee tracking cost in Nyungwe National Park is USD 90 for foreign nonresidents and USD 60 for foreign residents.
Mahale Mountain National Park: USD 20 per person and park entrance fee of USD 80 per person.
Gombe National Park/ Gombe Stream National Park: USD 100 per person for the park entrance fee and guided walks around Lake Tanganyika go for USD 20 per person.
It is important to know what to carry for your Chimp trekking safari so that you do not carry luggage that is not necessary.
Insect repellant: this will help to protect you from insect bites.
Cameras: Keep the treasured memories of your journey by taking photos of the primates, bird species, and other wild animals like forest Elephants with your camera.
Binoculars: This is also important as it will help you to see other wildlife like bird species, distant forest Elephants, and many others at a distance.
Sunscreen lotion: This will keep your skin safe from damage from the heat of the tropical sun while on your Chimp trek.
Long-sleeved shirts and trousers: these will cover your body fully from insects and the weather.
Hiking shoes or boots: This will help for easier Chimpanzee tracking and moving through the ragged landscape.
Bottled drinking water will keep you hydrated throughout the session.
A walking stick that you will receive from the briefing center.
With the most famous places for these primate safaris being Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo, you will find a favorable accommodation in one of these destinations ranging from luxury, midrange, and budget.
It is best if your accommodation is next to the Chimpanzee tracking sector for easy transportation. Your tour operator will make sure that they help you with this.
Travelers on luxury tours may have their tour operator prepare a transfer to their lodges on a helicopter.
While going for your Chimpanzee trek, some guidelines are set up to be followed both for the benefit of the trekkers and the Chimps. Below are these rules and regulations.
Chimpanzee trekking is a safari activity that involves moving in the African rainforests and tropical forests to look for a Chimpanzee group and spend time with them.
A Chimpanzee can be seen in the rainforests and tropical forests of Africa in different countries like Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, Tanzania, etc.
The best place for Africa Chimpanzee trekking takes place in Kibale National Park located in South Western Uganda, also called the primate capital of the world.
Kibale National Park holds the highest number of Chimpanzees and primate species in Africa. The park will also avail you with the chance to watch various forest bird species during your adventure.
Chimpanzee trekking takes place in the parks for about 3 to 6 hours and once you meet a Chimpanzee group, you are allowed to spend one hour with them.
Yes, you can visit a Chimp sanctuary in Africa. For example in Uganda, you can visit the Ngamba Island Sanctuary.
Africa Chimpanzee trekking safaris are one of the famous experiences to combine with other beautiful African safaris. Combined with a Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda or the Great Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania or Kenya, be ready to experience a lifetime adventure!
Get ready to experience the excellent Chimpanzee trekking experience in Africa! Book with us and let us plan your trip today!
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