Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park : Uganda is one of the most concentrated countries on the continent in terms of wildlife. With this fact, she is one of the most devoured tourist destinations on the continent and among the top ten in the world. Uganda boasts of over 1000 species of birds, over 95 species of mammals of which 20 are primates. Kibale national park is home to 13 species of the 20 primates some of which include the most recently discovered dwarf galago, the black and white colobus, red tail monkey, blue monkeys and the olive baboon among other. The most famous primate in Kibale National Park however is the Chimpanzee.
Kibale National Park is located in Kabarole district in Southwestern Uganda. With over 5000 chimpanzees in Uganda, Kibale is home to 1500 of them making it the most concentrated park with chimpanzees. Because of its high chimpanzee and primate numbers in general, the park is called the primate hub of East Africa.
As the closest relative to man, chimpanzees are highly social and very intelligent that they learn behavior just like human beings. They share about 98.7% of their DNA with man and they have a communication pattern similar to people. They hug, pat, cry, kiss and make noises among other things to communicate. Visitors and researchers from all over the world come to experience and study about the chimpanzee’s odd similarity to humans at Kibale.
Chimpanzee trekking at Kibale is done daily in two shifts, 7am and 12pm. The morning trekkers of the day are expected at the park information center at 7 am for briefing, the afternoon shift is expected at the center at 12 pm. During briefing, you’ll learn more about the chimpanzee behavior and the rules of the trek that include keeping healthy distance from the chimpanzees, not echoing their noises and not at any one point touching the animals in order to avoid cross infections.
Trekkers are put into groups of 6 during briefing and the trekking starts at 8 am. A ranger will go ahead of the group to search where the chimpanzees nested the previous night, for the morning shift or where they where last seen in the morning, for the afternoon shift. This enables trekkers avoid unnecessarily long and tiresome treks while looking for the chimpanzees. The ranger or guide also educates the tourists about the chimpanzees during the trek.
Once the chimpanzees are found, the tourists are given one hour to observe and interact with the animals. Visitors can take pictures of the animals or just take a moment to observe their behavior for the one hour.
Requirements for chimpanzee trekking
The main requirement for chimpanzee trekking at Kibale is a chimpanzee trekking permit. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is solely responsible for issuing trekking permits for Kibale National Park. A permit in the peak season costs $150 while it goes for $100 in the low seasons. These can be purchased directly at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala or through your travel agency. It is advisable to book your permit 6-12 months prior to your trip if you’re planning to trek during the peak season (July to September).
Due to the unpredictable weather of the country, it is advisable to carry a rain jacket while trekking. We also advise on hiking shoes, long sleeved shirt, trouser, an insect repellent and walking stick. A camera, binoculars, water in a water bottle and a snack could be extras.
Other adventures in Kibale National Park
You’ll get to see the other primate species as you trek chimpanzees which is a big bonus. The beautiful scenery and the other wildlife present in Kibale will leave you craving for more. You can also have a bird watching spree in the Bigodi Swamps.