How is Safety and security guaranteed during chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park?
How is Safety and security guaranteed during chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park? Kibale National Park is the best destination for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, with over 1500 registered chimpanzees. Pronounced as ‘Chibale,’ the tropical rainforest is found in the western part of Uganda and is home to a wide range of primates, and that is why the national park is sometimes referred to as the primate capital. Kibale National Park is one of the most visited parks in the country, with sights of the Rwenzori ranges, over 3000 bird species, and four chimpanzee-habituated families.
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How safe is chimpanzee trekking in Kibale?
This is one of the frequently asked questions. The answer to this is that the activity is highly safe, and this is because of the various safety measures that have been put in place to protect the chimpanzees from extinction while protecting the trekkers.
Chimpanzee trekking is the main activity in Kibale National Park, although other activities include birding, nature walks, and chimpanzee habituation. Tourists usually opt for the normal chimpanzee trek experience, where they spend an hour with the primates, whereas if you are looking to spend more time with them, you can always opt for the habituation experience.
Chimpanzee habituation process: Chimpanzees are sometimes referred to as cousins to humans with a 98% DNA likeness, but they are still wildlife that act differently once people approach them. Chimpanzee habituation was introduced to train the chimpanzees to get used to human presence and to study their behaviors. You get to participate in a whole new experience after purchasing a chimpanzee habituation permit with researchers and experienced guides; it can take more time with the primates and watching how they act with each other. The exercise starts early in the morning with a briefing and assigning of the chimp family to trek.
How Safety is guaranteed when chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park is safe, and this is due to the different measures that have been put in place to ensure that everyone is safe. These are in the form of the trekking rules and regulations established by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Trekking rules and regulations were set up by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to protect the chimpanzees and the trekkers. Below is a list of the chimpanzee trekking rules and regulations that all trekkers must follow. Before tracking chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, you need to know all the trekking rules.
- Children below the age of 15 years will not be allowed to trek the chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. The age limit was recently reduced from 15 to 15 years to include more children in the exercise.
- Tourists should avoid making unnecessary movements and noise when with the chimpanzees. Keep using low tones so as not to disturb the chimpanzees.
- Each trek group gets to spend an hour with the chimpanzees, but in cases where the group is agitated, the trek session can be canceled or made short by the guide to protect the wellbeing of the primates.
- Taking photos of the chimpanzees with the camera flash on is prohibited.
- Volunteer to stay back if you feel sick on the trek day. Chimpanzees fall sick easily, and to avoid this, no one will be allowed to trek the chimps if they are sick, especially with flu and cough.
- A distance of 7 meters is to be kept between the group of trekkers and the chimpanzees to protect the chimpanzees and the trekkers.
- Tourists are not allowed to touch and approach the chimpanzees.
- Eating and drinking in front of the chimpanzees is prohibited because it might harm the chimps. They might grab the food from you or crumbs falling from the food the chimpanzees picked, increasing the risks of infections to the primate species.
The rules and regulations are supposed to be followed by all trekkers. However, there are other measures that the national park has put in place to protect not only the trekkers but the chimpanzees as well, and these include the following:
- Tour guides: The tour guides are provided by the local tour operator that you have booked with, and they are always experienced. Professional guides have been leading trekkers around Kibale and know the proper rules to follow while trekking. You should note that the guides know the national park and have trekked through it on multiple occasions, unlike tourists who are in a new and unfamiliar territory. To be safe, you need to follow experienced guides when trekking because there are other wildlife in the national park.
- Security check at the entrance of the park: When you get to the national park entrance, there is a security point where every tourist can access the national park. You will be searched for any harmful things like knives, poison, and guns, and any suspicious items that you might be carrying will be confiscated.
- Provision of armed rangers: These are provided by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and are part of the amount paid for the trek permit. Armed rangers are there to protect you from any attacks that might happen while in the national park, and they are always available throughout the trek.
- Other ways that you can try to keep safe is by attending and being attentive during the briefing where the rules and regulations are re-echoed by the lead guide, ensuring that your property is kept secure (do not move with all your important documents), and if possible avoid using basic facilities because some of them do not offer security and can easily be broken into by thugs.
You can also keep safe during the trek in Kibale National Park by packing right for the exercise. The correct packing list is for your comfort and to keep you safe. Some of the essential things that you need for the chimpanzee trek include the following:
- Bring long-sleeved shirts and trousers. The extra material protects your skin from bug bites and scratches from thorns, trees, and other things found in the forest. The clothes should at least be of neutral color, such as brown, green, or khaki, to easily blend in with the forest. Bright colors attract a lot of attention, black absorbs heat, and blue attracts tsetse flies, so it is better to avoid such colors. On the other hand, Camouflage is used by the army in the country, and no one is allowed to put it on unless they belong to the military.
- For hiking, strong ankle-length boots are the best. Qualities of good hike boots include strong, sturdy so that you don’t keep on sliding during rainy days, ankle length to keep insects from crawling up your legs, and waterproof.
- Thick socks to keep you warm, adjustable gaiters to protect the upper part of the legs from dust, mud, and pebbles, and the socks should be thick enough because trousers are tucked into the socks for skin protection.
- Use insect repellent and sunscreen to protect you from bug bites.
- Waterproof rain jacket and a warm sweater.
- Garden gloves for protection of the hands during the hike.
- A first aid kit to be used in case Of emergencies. In case the emergency is severe, the tour guides have procedures that they follow to evacuate the injured.
- Other items that should be packed include a water bottle of at least 1 liter, wipes, energy bars, snacks, sandals, sneakers, toiletries, a walking stick will be availed to you if you need it, binoculars, and a camera.
How to arrange and book a chimpanzee trek experience in Kibale
Chimpanzee trekking and habituation permits can be booked directly through the Uganda Wildlife Authority or a trusted tour operator. Booking through a trusted tour operator is much easier because booking directly through UWA is a long and complicated process.
After getting in touch with us, we will ask for your details, names, and expected and preferred dates of the trek to enable us to check for the availability of the trek permit. Once we are through with checking and confirming the availability of the permits, we send you an email, and the next step is to send payment for the permit. Note that no booking will be made if you do not pay the full amount of the cost of the permit, and to be secure enough, payment is to be done using the company bank details and not a personal account. When we receive confirmation of payment, we then purchase the permit and send a soft copy.
After getting the permit, you then have to start organizing other aspects of the safari, like accommodation, transport, and the number of days to spend on the chimpanzee trek. All this can be arranged with us, but note that the cost of other services is not included in the trek permit cost.
Cost of chimpanzee trekking permits in Kibale.
The current costs of the trekking permits in Kibale are as follows. Still, you will notice that the chimpanzee habituation permits are slightly more expensive than the regular trekking permits, and this is because you get to spend more time with the chimpanzees during the habituation process.
Foreign residents 250 USD per person
Foreign non-residents 300 USD per person
East African citizens 250, 0000 UGX per person
Chimpanzee habituation permit
Foreign residents 300 USD per person
Foreign non-residents 300 USD per person
East African citizens 300 000 UGX per person.
Note that as you pay for the chimpanzee permit, you are only entitled to pay for one. You can purchase the chimp habituation permit or the normal chimpanzee permit, but not both simultaneously.
Guidelines for purchasing the chimpanzee trekking permit.
- The chimpanzee trekking permit has to be booked early enough, and tourists who book six months before have to pay at least 50% of the total cost of the permit, with the balance paid 90 days before the day you are supposed to travel and trek.
- Failure to pay money owed before the 90 days will lead to no permit being booked and purchased, and note that no refunds will be made as well.
- You need to have made a 100% payment for booking and purchasing the trek permit to be made.
- You cannot change a trekking permit once you have already purchased it. For example, you cannot get a chimpanzee habituation permit if you have booked a normal chimpanzee trek permit.
- Reschedules are allowed if you make them within 15 months from the first date booked.
- No one will be allowed to make more than one reschedule, and if you are to make another, a surcharge of 25% will be placed on the original permit cost.
- All online payments have to be made within 72 hours of the initial booking.
- No one below the age of 15 will be allowed to go chimpanzee trekking.
- Costs of other activities are not eligible for canceling and rescheduling even after paying for them.
Accessing Kibale National Park
Air: If you plan on flying, charter flights can be arranged through your tour operator from Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport to Kasese Airstrip (the nearest airstrip to the park). After landing, a safari vehicle organized by your tour guide will drive you for the rest of the journey to Kibale Park headquarters or your hotel.
Road: This is the most commonly used mode of transport to Kibale National Park. You can access Kibale National Park through the Kampala to Mbarara to Kasese highway, and from Kasese, you will connect to Kibale National Park. You can also use Kampala to Fort Portal highway, which is about a 4- to 5-hour drive.
When to go for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park
The best time for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale is during the dry months of December to February and June to August. Chimpanzees can easily be seen during the dry season; trekking is also easy because of the dry trek routes. You can still go trekking during the wet months of March to May and October to November.
Contact us for more information about Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park.