Kibale National Park



The best place for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is Kibale Forest National Park, home to five Habituated chimpanzee troops within easy walking distance from the Kanyanchu trailhead. Kibale’s chimp troops are pretty dramatic and very calm around tourists, and observing them here is a rare treat.

Kibale Forest is home to around 1,500 chimpanzees living in 13 communities. Of these, a couple of groups have been successfully habituated to human presence. Some are reserved for scientific study, and others, such as the Kanyanchu group, are used for trekking experiences. Chimpanzee trekking excursions in Kibale occur twice daily, in the mornings and afternoons, and typically last 3-4 hours with up to one hour spent with the chimps.

It’s not just the chimps that would bring you here; the park’s diversity of primates is one of the highest in Africa. With 13 species jumping in the canopy, you can’t miss catching a few on a chimpanzee trekking excursion. Hikers regularly bump into the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed, and blue monkeys. Several nocturnal species are also regularly spotted on night nature walks, including the potto and the eastern needle-clawed bush baby.

You’ll need a chimpanzee permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority to see chimpanzees in Uganda, and a chimp permit for Kibale costs USD 200 per person per day. UWA discounts the chimp permit for Foreign residents (with work permits) at $150 per person and East African Nationals at 150,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX).

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Gorge



Kyambura Gorge, located in the far eastern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda, is another protected reserve that offers excellent chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.

The 1-km-long and 300-ft-deep “Valley of The Apes” gorge is surrounded by the stunningly vast savannah plains, rift valley craters, and the Rwenzori Mountains as a brooding backdrop to the incredible scenery.

While the chances of seeing chimps here are lower than in Kibale, the incredible scenery is just as much part of the attraction. Trekking down the ravine’s steep slopes, through the vines and giant fig trees (less conventional than tiring), will make you feel like you’re in an underground forest.

You’ll be opping over streams and traversing rivers as you seek out the chimpanzee troop; once you find them, you can spend a superb hour watching them feed, interact, play, and go about their daily basic chores. It’s like looking into a time mirror and watching the Homo sapiens two million years ago.

Chimpanzee permits for Kyambura cost USD 50 per person and are discounted at $40/UGX 30,000 for Foreign Residents/EA Nationals. There are two guided chimpanzee excursions per day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo Forest Uganda

Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest, just outside Murchison Falls National Park’s main entrance, is not quite as interesting for a multi-day safari in Uganda as Kibale Forest; unless you’re heading to the northern safari circuit. Although it is a perfect match with Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Park, you’ll have to drive across the country to reach the mountain gorillas. The most popular safari activity that most probably attracted you to look at destination Uganda.

Budongo Forest is run by the National Forestry Authority and a private concession, and they charge USD 90 per person for a chimpanzee permit.

Although chances of spotting the chimps are slim, chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is unique and more immersive than in Kibale. And, there are very few visitors, which means a private experience for the price of 6 movie tickets. You could literally be on the trail with just you, your guide, and a bunch of happy-hooting primates in the middle of an evolutionary jungle.

In Budongo, it is authentic chimpanzee tracking with hands in the dirt, looking for dung, working out what the chimps have been eating, and listening for distinct sounds to identify the chimps. Ragers here were trained by Kenyan wildlife guides and offer interactive experiences during the treks. They’ll build up excitement from the beginning to your chimp sighting.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Semiliki National Park

Semiliki National Park

In the shows of Rwenzori Mountains sits Semliki Valley, home to a small population of chimpanzees.

Here, the chimps population is of particular scientific interest because it occupies a drier habitat than those in Kibale, Budongo, or Kyambura. Which, for scientists, means that chimps range further to forage; observations are more authentic. On occasion, scientists have observed chimps in Semiliki walking on their hind legs for short distances.

The research program in Semilki is cutting edge as scientists work out the relationship between peculiar behavior and the evolution of Homo sapiens.

As immersive as it sounds, gorilla trekking in Semiliki does not guarantee chimp sightings. The dry and sparse woods means the chimps have very little to go by in the same place, so they swing in far and wide canopies to forage enough for food.

There is a long-term Chimpanzee Habituation project; you may join the researchers on a primate walk, but don’t go with high hopes of seeing chimpanzees. Instead, relax and discover more about a fascinating species while exploring a beautiful environment. Rather, pay the 30 bucks for a nature walk and maybe you’ll get lucky with the chimps.

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