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Chimpanzee Tracking In Kibale National Park Uganda

Chimpanzee tracking is one the best activities in Kibale National Park and coming face-to-face with a wild chimpanzee while on your Uganda safari tour in Kibale Forest is breathlessly exhilarating.

Although there are around 299,700 chimpanzees left in the equatorial forests of Africa, observing them in their natural habitat is indeed a rare treat. One of the best places to do so is Kibale Forest as Chimpanzees here can be encountered within easy walking distance.

Trackers in Kibale visit the Kanyantale Community, which comprises 90 individuals, and is very well-habituated.

How Is Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park Done?

The adventure leaves two times a day from Kanyanchu Visitor Centre, at 8:00 am and 2:00 pm. You should arrive at Kanyanchu very early for registration and briefing.

While at Kanyanchu, you will be briefed about the great apes you are about to see, as well as be given some dos and don’ts such as avoiding getting too close to chimpanzees.

After the briefing, trackers leave in a group of 6 people, each accompanied by a guide, who is armed in case of emergencies. And then it’s time to head into the forest.

Chimpanzee sighting chances on these walks are 95%.

As you move through the tangled undergrowth, ducking under low branches and watching your step for twisted roots, you will hike in the direction of where the apes were last seen, all the time listening for their cries in the trees above. During your chimpanzee trekking, you will encounter other primates such as;

  • Black-and-white colobus monkeys
  • Olive baboons
  • Red-tailed monkeys
  • Uganda red colobus

You will also see some of the 375 bird species in the park and a variety of plant species and colorful butterflies.

Standard chimpanzee tracking usually takes up to 3 hours, including the maximum period of 1 hour with the chimps.

Most likely, you will hear them before you see them. An excited hoot from somewhere deep in the forest; just one voice at first, then several, rising in volume and tempo and pitch to a frenzied unified crescendo, before it stops abruptly or fades away.

Jane Goodall called it the ‘pant-hoot’ call, a kind of bonding ritual that enables any chimpanzee within earshot of each other to identify exactly who is around at any given moment, through the individual’s unique vocalization.

To the human listener, this eruptive crescendo is one of the most spine-chilling and exciting sounds of the rainforest, and a strong indicator that visual contact with man’s closest genetic relatives is imminent.

As you follow the direction of the pant hoot, you should soon find one of the family’s sub-groups. They may be high up in the treetops, feasting on figs, grooming, or playing. But if you’re lucky, some will come down to the ground, and that’s when the real magic happens.

The thrill of seeing how intelligent they are, with their poses, expressions, and interactions that could be almost human is indeed an unforgettable wildlife-watching experience.

The way they look right at you with their bright eyes and even pose for your camera, you may wonder if they’re enjoying the interaction even more than you are.

Chimpanzee Tracking Rules in Kibale National Park

For the safety of the visitors and the protection of chimpanzees, trackers should follow a few rules along the forest trails.

  • At the briefing points, visitors and staff must wash their hands or sanitize and have their body temperature taken.
  • A maximum of six (6) tourists are allowed to track a chimpanzee group at the time.
  • All the visitors, staff, and trackers must wear masks.
  • The group  size for chimpanzee tracking is limited to six visitors
  • If you feel sick don’t enter the forest because Chimpanzees can catch your diseases
  • 12 years is the minimum age for tracking chimpanzee
  • Don’t throw away garbage in the forest. If you have a backpack, please put all the garbage in it and you can empty it at a designated point when you return to the briefing point; the delicate ecosystem of Kibale National Park needs to be kept free of any form of litter.
  • If it is necessary to urinate or defecate, do so off the trail. Bury your waste 30 cm deep along with any toilet paper.
  • Please speak in a low voice while in the forest, you will see more.
  • Maintain at least 10 meters (33 feet) from the chimpanzees at all times. This is not only for your own safety but also for theirs as our colds; viruses and diseases can easily spread to them due to shared DNA.
  • You are advised not to mimic Chimpanzees’ vocalization (you do not know what you might be saying!) It might seem fun to mimic them, but if you’re not careful you might accidentally end up recreating a battle cry and bring 120 angry chimpanzees down upon you.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke near the Chimpanzees.
  • Chimpanzees are known to be very quick when moving, please do not chase the Chimpanzees
  • Flash photography is strictly prohibited
  • Contact time with chimpanzees is limited to one hour

Do I need A Permit To Track Chimpanzees In Kibale National Park?

Like Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park also requires one to have a chimpanzee tracking permit that allows a traveler to access the national park for this activity.

How Much Is A Chimpanzee Trekking Permit For Kibale National Park?

Below are the chimpanzee tracking fees in Uganda’s Kibale National Park

Visitor categoryFees (per person)
·         Foreign non-resident·         US$200
·         Foreign resident·         US$150
·         East African citizen·         UGX150,000

Rates include guide fee and entrance fee

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