Chimp trekking is one of the sought after activities on a Uganda safari. Uganda has a number of primates that include; mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, red colobus and the rare I’Hoest’s monkey, black-and-white colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto. The darling of all are mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, a Uganda safari without gorilla tracking or chimp trekking is so lacking!!. Chimp trekking activity is when visitors trek through the forest in search of the chimps, its more like paying the chimps a visit in their natural wild. The different chimp communities that are open to visitors have undergone a process of habituation, to make them get used to humans, this process helps chimps to know that humans are not a threat and therefore don’t get wild when an encounter is made. Much as the chimps have undergone habituation, they can sometimes snap and act wild if the feel provoked, therefore visitors are strictly advised to observe the rules and regulations stipulated by Uganda wildlife authority (UWA). The rules and regulations both aim that the safety or both chimps and visitors and for conservation purposes. Among the rules; Don’t get so close, visitors are supposed to observe the stipulated distance between the chimps; Do not shout or talk loud, as the chimps may feel threatened, once they feel threatened, they can caused harm to visitors; Do not look them straight in the eyes, as they feel offended and provoked, they can harm the visitors; Do not make contact with the chimps; Do not feed chimps or eat in front of them; these are to ensure that the heath of the chimps is not compromised.
Chimp trekking Process
Chimp trekking is one of the competitive activities, after gorilla tracking. Below is what you need to do when planning a chimp trekking tour.
Book a Chimp trekking permit: Book a chimp trekking permit in advance best if its six or more months before the actual trek, once you got the permit booked, you are now very ready and assured that you will be able to see the chimps. A chimp permit goes for $150 per adult the fee is non refundable, and the permit is non transferable that means if you have booked the permit no other person can use it to track. An adult is anyone from the age of fifteen and above, children below the age of fifteen are not advised infact allowed to track. But what are the chances of seeing chimps? There are minimal chances of failing to see; one because their population, two because there are rangers assigned to monitor these chimps all day mainly to ensure that no individual is harmed or ill but in cases where chimps fall ill, the rangers rely the information to the concerned office and assistance is given promptly, now this means that the rangers have knowledge of the location of chimps and know how to trace them incase they have made movements. But in cases where one may fail to see the chimps during the trek, UWA extends the validity of permit to the following day at no extra charge.
Travel to the chimp trekking destination; Now that tour is started and you are required to travel to the place where you are to track the chimps from. Chimp trekking is done in Kibale Forest National Park, Budogo Forest Murchison Falls National Park, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The journey from Kampala to those destinations takes between 4 – 7 hours respectively. Chimp trekking can be combined with a tour to other destinations or can be done solely, either way one needs to spend atleast night in the park to prepare for the next days’s trek.
Report at Uganda wildlife Authority: It’s a requirement that every trekker reports at UWA headquarters, for two reasons; for registration and verification of the permits, all trekkers are registered and a passport is a must have as it is a prerequisite, after trekkers are then briefed about the entire exercise, how long it may take, the rules and regulations, then rangers/guide are assigned per group and off to the forest.
Actual trekking; After briefing, trekkers are spilt in groups and with their rangers/guides they head out to the forest to track man’s closest relative. Only a maximum of 8 people are allowed to visit a community of chimps at a time, this is all done to ensure that chimps don’t get uncomfortable. The trek may take anywhere between 2 – 7 hours depending on the movement of the chimps, one can be assured of one hour of being with the chimps to observe them, watch them play, swing in the tree branches, it is phenomenal.
Best place for chimp trekking; Kibale forest National park is the best place for chimp trekking, the forest registers a population of 1500 individuals out of which many communities have been habituated. One cannot fail to see chimps in this forest. The park is west of the country at the foot of Mt Rwenzori. Only 4 -5 hours drive from Kampala, the forest is easily accessible. The park has many accommodation facilities both lodges, tents and camps in all ranges from Luxury, mid range to budget.
Contact the Safari department at [email protected] to book a chimp trekking safari