Chimpanzee trekking is one of the top safari activities both in Uganda and Rwanda. Chimpanzees are man’s closest relatives sharing about 98.7% DNA. They are intelligent and have the capability of learning to use instruments. For many travelers when it comes to trekking, gorilla trekking is much more popular, however, chimpanzee trekking is one activity that travelers shouldn’t miss.
Unlike gorillas, chimpanzees are constantly on the move and move around at very high speeds as they jump from tree to tree. This makes them amazing to see and the best shots depend on how fast you take your photos as the chimpanzees will continue moving. Both Uganda and Rwanda have chimpanzees and here is where you can see chimpanzees in Uganda and Rwanda.
Chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda is undertaken only at Nyungwe Forest National Park, they are the major attraction in the forest. This is one of the most diverse and afro montane forests in Africa hosting a lot of primates and bird species. Unlike gorilla trekking where a maximum of one hour is given to the trekkers to watch the gorillas, for chimpanzee tracking individuals spend more time depending on their preference.
Though much time can be spent with the chimpanzees, the problem is with keeping up with them since they move so fast in the trees and cannot stay in one spot.
When taking up the chimpanzee trekking experience in Rwanda, the activity starts from three reception centers known as Uwinka, Kitabi, and Gisakura respectively. Not like other activities for the morning chimpanzee trekking experience, individuals are expected to go to the park early and the drive to the trek start point in the forest is at 5:00 a.m. The chimpanzees can be heard from a distance by their deafening screams, loud hoots, and booming hitting of the tree barks and buttresses.
The advantage of trekking chimpanzees in Rwanda is that the park is close to the capital of Kigali about 4 and half hours’ drive. Chimpanzee trekking is much more fast-paced which makes it more adventurous and exciting than the famous gorilla trekking. You can combine both while on a Rwanda safari.
One of the most interesting primates to trek while on safaris in Uganda is the Chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is almost the second most popular tracking activity after gorilla trekking. Uganda has a high population of chimpanzees with close to 5000 of them in the county most of them in their natural habitats.
There are several destinations in Uganda that are habitats for chimpanzees. Some spots are natural habitats for chimpanzee tracking whereas others are not natural habitats but you can see the chimps. Here is where you can see chimpanzees and trek chimpanzees in Uganda
Kibale Forest hosts the highest total population of chimpanzees. The park has over a thousand chimpanzees and is still home to over 13 primate species, that’s why it’s dubbed the primate capital of the world. Kibale Forest National Park is very accessible for chimpanzee trekking and a 3 day chimpanzee trekking safari is a good itinerary. You can also tailor along trip with a visit to other parks like Murchison Falls National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Budongo forest is the closest spot from Kampala-Uganda’s capital for tourists to trek chimpanzees. The forest is part of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. There are 2 habituated chimpanzee families that can be trekked by those interested in the activity. You can choose to have a trip to the forest just for chimp trekking or take a 4-day safari to Murchison Falls National Park.
Kyambura Gorge is the only destination in Uganda where you will have to visit the chimps below sea level. The chimpanzees live in a gorge that is about 100m deep at its deepest spot. Unlike other chimpanzees, this population lives below the gorge which makes it an extraordinary experience to trek them. However, the chimpanzees here are few, and therefore sightings are not that marvelous. If you want to have a magical experience, then trek in Kyambura you may never find this experience anywhere else. The trekking safari can be tailored with a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Ngamba Island is the only island in Uganda where rescued chimpanzees are kept. These chimpanzees are rescued from all over the East African region and kept within the island. Here you don’t trek the chimpanzees but just see them. The island is located within the Lake Victoria archipelago and reaching there is amazing. You take a boat cruise and pass through the equator to get to the island which is a magical island. You can visit the chimps on a day tour or even stay on the island for more than 2 days.
Wondering where to trek chimpanzees? Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda vs Rwanda is the perfect way to choose your next destination.