Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Why Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda is a Must-Do for Visitors
Chimpanzees are the closest living relatives to humans and they provide a fascinating experience for visitors. The chimpanzee trekking experience is a must-do for visitors to Uganda. These primates share 98% of their DNA with humans and are the closest living relatives we have on earth.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Jane Goodall Institute launched a chimp habituation program for ecotourism activities at the Kanyanchu Tourist Centre in Kibale National Park in 1997. Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda as a tourism activity has progressively evolved over the years, and Kibale National Park is currently the greatest spot for chimpanzee trekking. The other locations where chimpanzees have been habituated are Budongo forest, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kalinzu forest. These locations also provide opportunities for trekking. Attempts have been undertaken to habituate the Semuliki Wildlife Reserve’s savanna Chimpanzees, but no success has been observed after more than 15 years.
Chimpanzees in the Wild in Uganda
Due to the significant population declines in the areas where they are found, chimpanzees are considered to be endangered worldwide. This reduction is mostly the result of habitat destruction and the trade in bushmeat. Because Ugandans don’t often eat primate meat, the chimpanzee population there is regarded to be less at risk from hunting than that of other African countries. They are nonetheless hunted in several areas of their range in this nation. The snares placed for other animals like bushpigs and antelopes pose a greater threat to the chimpanzees in Uganda. At least 25% of habituated chimpanzees in Uganda have damaged limbs.
In Uganda, habitat loss is a problem, but it mostly happens outside of protected areas. Because of this, many of the dangers to chimpanzees arise on the outskirts or outside of protected areas. They are impacted by local farmers in this area as well as large-scale businesses that grow tobacco, cocoa, and sugar cane
Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda – Kyambura Gorge
The only area in the Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area where habituated chimps may be observed is in Kyambura Gorge. The chimps in Kyambura Gorge were isolated after the forests that connected it to the bigger forests of Kalinzu and Maramagambo were removed.
The group in the gorge now consists of approximately 20 members, which is a tiny number, and conservationists are concerned that this may lead to inbreeding and mutations.
The chimp trekking in Kyambura Gorge is separated into two sessions: morning and afternoon. A normal trekking day includes 8 people in each session. Only 16 people are allowed each day. Due to the limited amount of hiking permits, travellers must get them early enough from Mweya, where the park headquarters are located. Each chimp trekking adventure begins with a briefing for all trekkers during which rangers explain the characteristics of the terrain as well as facts on the chimps and what to anticipate. Following the briefing, tourists are escorted down the forest to track the chimpanzees. The odds of detecting the chimps are around 88%.
Visitors may see the “underground forest” (the forest growing in the gorge) as well as birds and smaller primates while monitoring chimpanzees.
How to Prepare for a Day of Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Prior booking for Chimpanzee trekking is now required, and this is done at the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala. Your travel agent can assist you, but internet booking and payment are other options.
The first thing you should do before going chimp trekking in Uganda is pack your equipment and supplies. Bring a raincoat, sunscreen, sunglasses, bug repellent, and water with you. Pack lunch and snacks for the day as well.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda – What to expect
Before entering the jungle, an armed ranger guide will accompany you to defend you from any potential animal attacks. This is one of the reasons why one of the chimp trekking guidelines is that you should never enter the jungle without a ranger guide.
Chimpanzees, like humans, snap when they are provoked; avoid irritating them during chimp briefing. They enjoy hooting loudly when something is wrong with them. Never feed the chimps when you meet them to make a clear divide between humans and chimps.
The precise time of finding of the Chimpanzees is determined by the forest surroundings, conditions, and chimp food supply. However, it is estimated that finding them will take at least two hours.
If the habituated community is attacked by a wild chimp group, they escape far into the bush. When a member of the group dies, chimps mourn in the same way that humans do. They are calmer and are not on the lookout for outsiders.
Rules of Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
Before the day of chimp habituation, you must be completely inoculated against Covid-19 and any other infectious diseases. For confirmation, a certificate must be provided.
Do not leave any wraps in the forest since they change the ecology of the forest, which is the only food source for chimps.
Do not eat in front of the chimps since they may forcefully take it from you. Furthermore, they are wild creatures that must forage for themselves.
If you need to defecate, ask your ranger guide to dig a hole approximately 30 meters deep and cover it completely. This is done to maintain adequate forest hygiene and to deter chimps from becoming interested about what is buried.
Never provoke the chimps because they can charge in the same way that people do.
Chimpanzee trekking is not permitted for children under the age of 12.
When you find the chimps, keep a distance of around 8 meters between you and them to allow for better observation and to decrease the possibility of infecting them.
Do not enter the forest for habituation without a ranger guide since they are more familiar with the area and have a better understanding of the chimps’ behaviour.