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Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National Park

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National Park

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National Park, Kibale Forest National Park established in 1993 to protect the Chimpanzees, it covers an area of 332 sq. kms. The Park is located in Kabarole District, Western Uganda. Kibale Forest National Park known as Primates capital of the world due to the highest number of primates in this park. It is a special encounter with the primates whose DNA is the closest to humans- closest relatives. The top destination for Chimpanzee safari with more than 5,000 chimpanzees, five habituated groups of Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park. And each groups  trekked in the morning or afternoon when  very active in the forest.

The park has about 13 primate species including baboons, Red-tailed monkey, Black-and-white colobuses, Uganda mangabey, L’Hoest’s monkey, Blue monkeys, Vervet monkey, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Red colobuses etc. The Park also harbors above 70 mammal species such as African Buffaloes, Forest Elephants, Leopards, Golden Cats, red and blue duikers, bushbucks, sitatungas, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, warthogs etc. It has 370 bird species such as Green breasted pitta, Abyssinian ground thrush, Crowned eagle, Dusky crimsoning, Collared appalis, Black-capped appalis, Black bee-eater, Yellow spotted nicator, Little greenbul, Black-eared ground thrush, Brown-chested alethe, Yellow-rumped tinker bird etc. The Highlight of this National Park is Chimpanzee Trekking done in Kanyanchu sector.

Chimpanzee Trekking

An outdoor activity that involves guided walks and hikes into the natural habitats of wild chimpanzees in order to observe and interact with them in their native environment. Before embarking on a Chimpanzee trek, visitors head to the parks center where information regarding the rules and regulations during Chimpanzee trekking process are provided, please always take note of the rules. These treks conducted in different sectors and Chimpanzee tracking starts from Kanyanchu Visitor Center at 08.00 & ends at 15.00. This activity typically lasts for lasts between 2-6 hours depending on the location of the Chimpanzee family.

During the trek, experienced guides lead visitors to areas where chimpanzees known to frequent and once found. On your way, visitors observe other fascinating primates such as monkeys, baboons and mangabeys, flora and fauna, different butterfly species and bird species like bee-eater, Yellow spotted nicator, Little greenbul, Black-eared ground thrush, Brown-chested alethe, Yellow-rumped tinker bird etc. Upon finding the Chimpanzees, visitors strictly spend 1 hour with these amazing primates, you will learn about their ways of living, how they feed, how they protect each other, take picture with them. And there is also one group found in the centre of the park with about 200 individuals. The research groups include the one found in Sebitoli and Kanyawara which has about 60 individuals.

Chimpanzee Habituation

In Addition to Chimpanzee Trekking, there is also Chimpanzee Habituation which involves a process of gradually acclimating wild chimpanzees to the presence of humans. The aim is to make them more tolerant of human observers, which allows researchers, conservationists, and tourists to observe and study them more closely without causing undue stress or disturbance to the chimpanzees.


The habituation process typically starts with researchers spending extended periods near the chimpanzees, gradually habituating them to human presence. Over time, the chimpanzees become accustomed to the researchers’ presence and continue with their natural behaviors, such as feeding, grooming, and social interactions.

Rules and Regulations to follow during Chimpanzee Trekking

Follow the Guidance of Experienced Guides: Always trek with trained and experienced guides who are familiar with the behavior of chimpanzees and the terrain of the park. Listen carefully to their instructions and follow their lead during the trek.

Maintain a Safe Distance: Keep a respectful distance from the chimpanzees at all times. This distance is usually specified by park regulations and may vary depending on the park and the behavior of the chimpanzees. Typically, a distance of at least 7 meters (about 23 feet)  recommended.

Do Not Feed the Chimpanzees: Feeding wild animals strictly prohibited as it can alter their natural behaviors, encourage dependency on humans, and pose health risks to both the animals and humans.

Respect Habitat and Wildlife: Stay on designated trails and avoid trampling vegetation or disturbing other wildlife species encountered during the trek. Leave no trace behind and take all litter out of the park with you.

Do Not Approach Sick Chimpanzees: If you encounter a sick or injured chimpanzee, do not approach it. Report any sightings to park authorities or your guides.

Follow Health and Safety Guidelines: Adhere to any health and safety guidelines provided by park authorities, including requirements for vaccinations, wearing masks (if applicable), and maintaining personal hygiene.

Observe Photography Guidelines: Follow any photography guidelines provided by your guides or park authorities. Avoid using flash photography, as it can startle the chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee Trekking Permit

A chimpanzee trekking permit is a legal document that will give you access to the chimpanzees. Processed by the Uganda wildlife Authority and they still remain the property of the Republic of Uganda even after being issued to you. Just like the trekking permit for Gorillas, limited permits are printed per day and these are only valid for the date that they have been printed. The reason as to why few permits are printed is to try as much as possible to reduce the interaction between the chimpanzees and humans to conserve them. The chimps are prone to diseases and that is why interaction is limited. Therefore, you are advised to book your Chimpanzee Tracking Permit in time to avoid inconveniences.

The cost of the Chimpanzee Tracking permit in Uganda is $250 per person in order for you to access the forest.

Best time to go Chimpanzee Trekking.

The best time for Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National Park is the dry seasons, which are from December to February and from June to September. During these months, the forest trails are less muddy and easier to navigate and the Chimpanzees tend to stay closer to the trails, making them easier to spot. However, it’s important to note that Kibale Forest is a lush and vibrant ecosystem year-round, so visiting during the wetter months can still offer a beautiful experience, albeit with potentially more challenging trekking conditions.

How Difficult Is Chimpanzee Trekking In Uganda?

Not so difficult to take part in Chimpanzee Trekking because the trekking normally done following the flat trails in the forests. Since chimpanzees live at relatively low altitudes, this makes it easy to go for trekking unlike when going for gorilla trekking. Note that during the wet season, it becomes extremely hard due to the slippery nature of the trails.

How to get to Kibale Forest National Park

The Park is about 336 Kilometers from Kampala and about 300 kilometers to Fort Portal. Once you reach Fort Portal, its 36 kilometers to reach Kanyanchu visitors Center. Some of the routes to use include Kampala-Fort Portal-Kamwenge-Kanyanchu or Kampala-Fort Portal-Sebitoli.

Accommodation in Kibale Forest National Park

Kyaninga Safari Lodge, Primate Lodge, Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse, Chimps Nest. Other Lodge near Kibale Forest National Park include Ndali Lodge, Rwenzori View Guesthouse, Lake Nkuruba Nature Reserve and Community Camp site among others.