Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park is an amazing safari where you will visit Uganda on an amazing primate safari experience. Kibale national park is famous for harboring the rare primates including the chimpanzees and other animals, located in the western region of Uganda. Kibale National Park has a thick vegetation cover and it is one of the remaining ecological systems filled with both montane and tropical rain forests. Kibale national park was gazetted in 1932 and was declared a national park in 1993 lying at the altitude variation of 1000 meters – 1600 meters and covers an area of 795 kilometers. It is one of the best safari destinations in East Africa. On the record, this spectacular park harbors 351 species of trees of over 200 years old, 70 mammal species, 375 bird species, 13 primates including chimpanzees which are estimated to be 1450 plus individuals, amphibians, reptiles and butterflies.
Kibale is prominent for chimpanzee trekking which attracts thousands of tourists to this destination earning the government of Uganda a great fraction of revenue. The chimpanzees are close relatives to human beings sharing 98% of DNA composition with human beings. Chimpanzees are social, intelligent and communicative creatures living in deep forests but they can become aggressive and unsocial when irritated and that is why it is advisable for tourists to control their behavior while in the presence of chimpanzees. Adult male chimpanzees weigh between 35-70 kilograms with a height of around 3 meters while adult females weigh between 20 kilograms to 50 kilograms with a height of about 2 and 4 feet. Their life expectancy is 40 years for free chimpanzees and 60 years for the caged ones.
Chimpanzees living in communities of 10-100 individuals spend most of their times on the ground feeding on leaves, fruits, nuts, seeds and flowers, they use tools like rocks they pick in the forest to crush nuts and sticks to digging out termites from their hiding holes. Young chimpanzees are always taken care of by their mothers until at the age of 4 years when they start living on their own, chimpanzees build new nests every at around 7 pm. In kibale national park there are four chimpanzee communities which are habituated, they include
- Kanyawara habituated community has 50-60 individuals
- The chimpanzee community at the heart of the park consists of 200 chimpanzees
- The famous Kanyanchu group which has been tracked since 1993, has high chances of one seeing chimpanzees in this group since trekking here is easy
- Sebitoli community which is still under research
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park is a 12-kilometer hike that begins as early as 7 am in the morning with a briefing, verifying permits, going through rules and regulations at the Kanyanchu visitor center. Guided walks start at 8 am from the visitor center. The best time for chimpanzee trekking is during the dry season months of November, February, June, and September.
To participate in gorilla trekking you need to be in possession of a chimpanzee trekking permit which is purchased at the offices of Uganda wildlife authority costs
- US$ 150 to foreign non-residents
- US$ 100 for foreign residents
- 100,000 Uganda shillings for East African residents (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi)
In the months of March, April and November promotional permits are sold at discounted prices
- US$ for foreign residents
- US$100 for non-foreign residents
- 75,000 Uganda shillings for East African citizens (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi )
And for chimpanzee habituation experienced permits costs
- US$ 220 for foreign non-residents
- US$ 150 for foreign residents
- 70,000 Uganda shillings for East African residents.
These prices are drafted by the Uganda wildlife authority
For amazing, safety for the tourists and chimpanzee during chimpanzee trekking the Uganda wildlife authority drafted various rules and regulations and before embarking on trekking expedition a trained guide reads the following rules and regulations to the chimpanzee trackers.
- A distance of 8 meters is recommended while in the presence off chimpanzees, getting too close to these wonderful creatures may scare them with will result in unwanted conflict between the tourist and them.
- As well-known chimpanzees are taken be close relatives to humans sharing 98% of DNA composition with human beings and because of this ill tourists are not allowed to participate in the trekking activity. This is for health purposes on the side of chimpanzees since they can contract human diseases including flue, diarrhea.
- Eating around chimpanzees is greatly prohibited, chimpanzees have attracted to most of the foods man eats most especially bananas so it is helpful to avoid eating around them.
- Visitors below the age of 15 are not allowed to participate in chimpanzee trekking. Tourists below the age of 15 are children who are hard to control both in their movements and noise making and they might get scared of the chimpanzees, Chimpanzees are threatened by too much noise and unnecessary movements.
- Taking pictures is not prohibited in kibale national park while chimpanzee trekking but using cameras with flashlights on is greatly prohibited, flashlights scare the chimpanzee which brings out their rebellious hostile nature thus attacking the tourists.
- A group of 6 tourists is allowed to go for trekking, as much chimpanzees are habituated and used to human beings, they are not too comfortable being around a large number of people at a time.
- Chimpanzee trekking experience only allows 1 hour with the chimpanzees in their habituated state at a given period of time. Chimpanzees easily get irritated and need their peace and freedom more than anything that is why man is allowed to stay with for a minimum time.
Kibale national park experiences heavy rainfall because it is covered by thick vegetation cover and trails get slippery while planning and embarking on chimpanzee trekking expedition as a tourist you need the following items (essentials) for a wonderful trip.
- Hiking boots: lightweight hiking shoes are so essential for trekking as you have to hike through very steep and slippery slopes if kibale national forest, these strong boots can also help from snake bites as you walk through the thick grasslands.
- Long-sleeved shirts/tops: long-sleeved shirts are needed to save from itching plants and scratches from them.
- Rain jacket: in kibale national park rain has no timetable it rains every time so its better to carry a rain jacket to avoid getting wet while trekking.
- A good camera with reserve batteries: best memories are best kept in photos, for a mesmerizing trekking you need a good camera and extra batteries to keep memories but while taking pictures you need to turn off your flash right.
- Chimpanzee trekking permit: for any tourist to embark you need a permit purchased at the Uganda wildlife authority.
- Binoculars: binoculars are very important as they help you (tourist) spot chimpanzees in the thick vegetation from a distance.
- Insect repellents. Since kibale national park is filled with thick vegetation it is prone to biting insects including mosquitoes, it is important to carry insect repellent lotions and sprays to save you from the bites.
- Bottle of water and lunch box. trekking is a tiresome activity and can take a full day, it is wise to carry refreshments like water with you and parked lunch.
- Hiking stick: hiking is not an easy task, it requires a lot of energy and resilience to finish, a hiking stick is a good alternative for support while climbing the steep slippery trails of kibale national park and hiking stick can be bought from guides, ornament shops around the park and at the Kanyanchu visitor center.
- Porter. A porter is needed to help you carry your bags while hiking, porters are got at the visitor center going for a reasonable price
While in kibale national park as a tourist while done with the trekking you can rest and spend a night at Primate Lodge/Crater Safari Lodge (Luxury), Kibale Forest Camp/Chimpanzee guest house (Mid-range), Rweteera lodge/Kibale Forest camp-lazy camping (Budget).