Can I trek chimpanzees twice in Kibale National Park?
Can I trek chimpanzees twice in Kibale National Park? Kibale National Park is found in the southwest part of Uganda in the Fort Portal district, covering over 774 square kilometers. Kibale was gazetted and established to protect the primates in the area, bird species, insects, reptiles, and other wildlife species. Kibale National Park is home to over 1,500 chimpanzees, making it the largest in Uganda. It is also home to other wildlife, including primates such as blue, red-tailed, vervet, black and white colobus, and olive baboons.
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Trekking chimpanzees in Kibale twice is possible when you book chimpanzee permits for two or more days. One is allowed to book as many chimpanzees permits as long as there is availability. For those interested in trekking chimpanzees in Kibale more than once or twice, please get in touch with us; we will advise accordingly.
Kibale National Park is the best place in Uganda to go chimpanzee trekking because of the large number of chimps in the National Park, amounting to over 1500 chimpanzees. To be able to participate in chimpanzee trekking, one needs first to purchase a trekking permit, which is the only document that will give you access to the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking permit: Chimpanzee trekking permits are the formal legal documents used to gain access to chimpanzees. Permits are always in high demand, and we strongly suggest that you book in advance, especially during the peak season, when they are sometimes sold out. Booking a chimpanzee permit can be done through a licensed tour operator, and a deposit to the account will confirm your safari. The first step to securing a chimpanzee permit is to identify the tour operator you will use and provide your details and the trek date you want. After confirmation, processing the permit and planning your safari will begin.
The cost of a chimpanzee permit in Kibale National Park was set up by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to limit the number of people visiting the chimpanzees to protect them. Below is the current cost of a chimpanzee trek in Kibale, but note that it can change at any time, and in case of any changes, we will be able to communicate on our blogs.
East African citizens 150, 000 UGX
Foreign residents $150
Foreign non-residents $$200 per person
The Uganda Wildlife Authority recently introduced new guidelines for the acquisition of chimpanzee permits, and these are:
- Once you have purchased a normal chimpanzee trekking permit, it becomes impossible for you to change it to a habituation permit.
- The minimum age for chimp trekking is 12 years.
- If you book the permit 6 months prior, you need to pay at least 50% of the total cost, and the balance is to be paid 90 days before the travel date.
- No booking will be made if you do not pay 100% of the total cost of the chimpanzee permit if you want to trek within 6 months.
- For tourists planning on rescheduling, only one will be allowed, and if you make more than one, a 25% surcharge is added to the original cost.
- You must pay the balance of 50% before the 90 days elapse to ensure a permit is booked, and you will receive a refund.
- All rescheduled trekking dates should be within a year from the first booked date.
- Online reservation payments are to be made within 72 hours after booking.
- All the costs for other activities paid in advance are not eligible for rescheduling and canceling.
Chimpanzee trekking rules and regulations
Tourists who plan on going chimpanzee trekking in Kibale should know that some rules and regulations need to be followed, and these do not feed the chimps; you are to keep a distance of 7 meters between you and the chimps, no one is allowed to eat or drink when with the gorillas, the minimum age for chimp trekking is 12 years, you are to avoid smoking while with the chimps, turn off your flashlights when taking photos, avoid putting on brightly colored clothes because they attract a lot of attention when you feel like going to the toilet, a group of 8 people is allowed to trek a chimpanzee group, you are allowed an hour with the chimps after trekking If you feel sick, it is best if you do not trek the chimps and if you want to sneeze or cough, turn away from the chimps to prevent the spread of diseases to the chimps because it can be catastrophic.
Packing list for a chimpanzee trek
For a memorable chimpanzee trekking experience, you will need to have the correct packing list and not carry extra and unnecessary, and that is why we have come up with a trek packing list to ensure that you have the right things to enjoy your chimpanzee safari in Kibale National Park. The packing list includes garden gloves, neutral-colored long-sleeved shirts and trousers, insect repellent, sunscreen, a sunhat, a camera with extra batteries and lenses, binoculars, strong hike boots, a day backpack, snacks, bottled drinking water, a rain jacket and garden gloves among others. You can also carry personal hygiene items.
Best time for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale
Chimpanzee trekking is carried out all year round, but the best time is during the dry season, June to September, and December to February. This is because the trek routes are easy to use, and chimps are easily spotted due to the thinning out of the vegetation. The wet season, however, March to May and October to November, is a good time for tourists who do not mind a little rain.
Chimpanzee habituation experience
This is a whole new experience for tourists as you get to follow the researchers and learn about the behaviors of the chimpanzees, take as many photos and videos as you can, learn more about their lifestyle, what they feed on, their hunting spots, and how they feed and groom, their young ones. Unlike normal chimpanzee trekking, where you get to spend an hour with the chimps, the chimpanzee habituation experience takes the whole day in Kibale National Park, starting as early as 6:00 a.m. with a briefing about what to expect during the process and the rules and regulations that need to be followed.
The habituation trek starts from Kanyachu headquarters in the park, and after a clear briefing, the trek and search of the chimpanzees starts with the guides in the lead. During the trek, you can catch glimpses of other primates like monkeys, bird species, and butterflies. Once you find the chimps, you get to spend four hours with them by studying their feeding, hunting, building nests for the night, taking as many photos as you can, and participating in the chimpanzees’ naming ceremony. Chimpanzee habituation was introduced to study and train the chimps to get used to the increased presence of humans.
The children’s activities are carried out by tourists under 12 years who stay behind, while those 12 years and above go for chimpanzee trekking. The activities include:
- Children participate in nature walks.
- Bird watching.
- Identifying the different plant and tree species in the national park with the help of a guide.
- Spotting the different wildlife species within Kibale.
Bird watching in Kibale National Park is home to over 370 bird species, including endemic and migratory ones. The bird-watching exercise is best done during the morning and evening hours, and it can only be carried out in the presence of an experienced tour guide. Some of the bird species you should look out for include the black and white shrike flycatcher, African emerald cuckoo, yellow-rumped tinker bird, blue-breasted kingfisher, crowned eagle, black-capped Apalis, Yellow-spotted Nicator, African jacana, Little Greenbul, dusky Crimsonwing, white shrike flycatcher, African pied pigtail, blue-throated roller, yellow billed barbet and African green pigeon among others. The best time to go bird watching in Kibale is during the wet season- October to November and March to May.
This is one of the activities that tourists can carry out while in Kibale National Park, and it allows you to explore the vast forest on foot and get in touch with nature. In the company of a tour guide, you get a real close-up of the wildlife in the park, including black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys, forest elephants, several bird species, and red-tailed monkeys, among others.
Kibale National Park offers guided night forest walks where you can explore the park at night with spotlights and view the nocturnal. Night forest walks take about two hours, and some of the wildlife you see include nightjars, bush babies, civets, pottos, and Serval cats, among others.
Other chimpanzee trekking destinations
Besides chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park, there are other chimpanzee trekking destinations in Uganda, and these are Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo forests in Murchison Falls National Park and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kyambura Gorge (Queen Elizabeth National Park): Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth National Park is carried out in the Kyambura Gorge. The chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge might not be as many as the ones in Kibale National Park, but they are still worth the visit as you can still join the trek with a drive to see the tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth. 16 permits are issued daily in Kyambura Gorge, and two sessions are offered, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. One of the most important things to note is that all the chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge are habituated, and the permit cost is as follows.
East African citizens 30, 000UGX
Foreign residents $50
Foreign non-residents $50
Kaniyo Pabidi forest (Murchison Falls National Park): Located within Murchison Falls National Park near the Kichumbanyobo gate, Kaniyo Pabidi is one of the untouched forests where chimpanzee trekking takes place. Although chimps here are hard to find and see, there are other safari activities that you can engage in, like bird watching, guided nature walks, butterfly viewing, and identifying the different tree species in the forest.
Budongo forest: Also located in Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo forest is a chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda with the largest mahogany trees in East Africa. The forest is also home to different wildlife species besides chimpanzees, including butterflies, over 350 recorded bird species, and 24 animal species. The chimpanzee permit cost in Budongo depends on the season, and it is as follows:
East African citizens
When to visit Kibale for chimpanzee trekking
Kibale National Park is an all-year-round chimpanzee trekking destination. Still, the best time for a safari to Kibale is during the dry/peak season in June to September and December to February. During the dry season, the national park receives less or no rainfall compared to the wet season, making it easy to trek through the forests. Note that the dry season also receives a lot of tourists during this period. Therefore, you need to book in advance to participate in chimpanzee trekking and other activities offered at the National Park.
How to travel to Kibale National Park
You can get to Kibale National Park by road or air transport. Flying is much easier but expensive, and charter flights are scheduled from Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport to Semuliki or Kasese Airstrip, where you connect for the rest of the journey by road. Driving, on the other hand, takes between 6 to 7 hours from Kampala. You can use public transport, but we highly recommend booking through a local tour operator who will arrange private transportation for you, and you will drive from Kampala through Mubende to Fort Portal or Mbarara before connecting to Kamwenge and then driving to the headquarters of the park.
Contact us for more information.