One of the reasons Uganda was called pearl of Africa is because of it’s numerous primates found in the country, Chimpanzees in Uganda can be found at Kibale forest national park, Kaniyo pabidi forest, Bwindi impenetrable national park, Maramagambo forest, Budongo forest and Karijju forest.
Chimpanzees are members of Hominidae family which includes humans, gorillas and Orangutans. Scientists have revealed that 99% DNA of humans is close to Chimpanzees, the brain of a chimpanzee is less by one third to the human brain. They make their nests by bending tree branches and always sleep in new nests daily they can also sleep for over 9 hours.
The estimated number of Chimpanzees in Uganda is said to be over 1,500. Though chimpanzees can be found in several forests, the only places where they are habituated are; Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park, Budongo forest, Kibale forest national park and Kariju ecotourism site.
Chimpanzees are said to live for over 60 years in captivity and less than 40 years in the wild, they normally reach puberty stage at the age of 8-10 years old, males always with about 70Kgs and females are always smaller. Chimpanzees use non- verbal communication compared to humans like using hand gestures, vocalizations, and facial expressions.
Chimpanzees give birth every 4-5 years and take care of their infants for 10-12 years and can then survive on their own. Chimpanzees unlike gorillas can us tools for example they can use sticks for fetching termites, rocks for cracking nuts, they often organize hunts where they catch young antelopes and monkeys and also make sponges from leaves which they soak in water from tree holes.
Renowned for having the highest number of wild Chimpanzees, Budongo forest is situated in northern Uganda and is part of Murchison falls conservation area. This is one of the best places to trek chimpanzees and the maximum trekking time is one hour. To make you safari more memorable you can visit the famous Murchison falls national park and go for elusive games drives as well as visit the devil’s cauldron which the strongest waterfall in the world.
Tourists can spend a night at Budongo eco lodge which is the only accommodation in the forest or opt for camping. There’s also an option of lodging in Murchison falls national park or Masindi town. Budongo forest is believed to have about 600-700 Chimpanzees. The two sites for chimpanzee trekking are Kaniyo pabidi and Busingiro ecotourismsites.
Kibale forest national park
Kibale forest national park has got three groups of chimpanzees which two are trekked daily; the tropical rain forests are situated in Kamwenge and Kabarole districts in western Uganda. Kibale forest also allows one hour of being with chimpanzees after finding them , it’s been ranked the best place for a chimpanzee trekking experience in Africa. Kibale forest is known for it’s semi deciduous and ever green forest favoring chimpanzees.
Tourists visiting Kibale forest can sleep in Kibale forest camp, Chimps nest, primate lodge and chimpanzee forest guest house.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge can be done in the morning or afternoon hours and the maximum number is eight people, chimpanzee trekking here is about hectic as they move from one place to another, Kyambura gorge is part of Queen Elizabeth national park therefore tourists can combine their safari with a game drive at the park and see the famous tree climbing lions. Kyambura Gorge is about 30 kilometers from Queen Elizabeth national park headquarters.
Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary
The famous Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary is home to orphaned Chimpanzees that were rescued from poachers who would use them for several things or sell them as pets to foreigners. This island is located in Lake Victoria and chimpanzees are on a 100 acre piece of land.
Ngamba island was opened up for tourists in October 199 and it’s the best place to do a chimpanzee experience within the city and the airport, tourists can even have chances of being a caretaker and participate in feeding the chimpanzees during their feeding hours.
Kalinzu forest reserve
Kalinzu forest reserve is one of the places to do chimpanzee trekking, Kalinzu forest is located in Bushenyi district, it also boasts with two species of butterflies that can’t be found elsewhere in the world
While trekking chimpanzees tourists can have chances of viewing several birds so bird enthusiasts should always move with their binoculars at hand some of the birds to be seen are; blue headed bee eater, African finfoot, black billed turacos, white thighed hornbill, chocolate backed kingfisher, Pavel’silladopsis, black capped apalis, collared apalis, blue headed sunbird, purple breasted sunbird, African pitta, black eared ground thrush, yellow spotted Nicator, little greenbul and many more.
Chimpanzees trekking also comes with a bonus of seeing other primates such as L’ Hoest monkey, Uganda Mangebay, red colobus monkey, vervet monkeys, baboons, red tailed monkeys and blue monkeys to mention a few. Kibale forest is 4-5 hours drive from Kampala, Budongo forest 4 hours from Kampala, Kyambura Gorge is about 3-4 hours drive. When trekking Chimpanzees the maximum group of people is 6, people with infections like flu will not be allowed to trek Chimpanzees and a distance of about 8 meters must be kept while observing chimpanzees. Flash photography is also not allowed. During peak season booking permits must be done in advance to avoid disappointments.