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Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo Forest – Prices, Costs, Trekking Permits, When to book and Guide

 Chimpanzee tracking is one of the commonest activities conducted in Budongo Forest, at the extreme south-eastern side of Murchison falls National Park. It is the oldest and largest Protected Natural forest in Africa offering one of the most remarkable chimpanzee trekking experiences. Chimpanzees are generally closely related to humans and their level of intelligence is second to none (when compared to other primate species), with over 800 of these Great Apes within Budongo Forest alone.

With a size of 825 square kilometers, Budongo is the largest natural rainforest in the entire East African region and is only 30 minutes’ drive from Murchison falls National Park’s Kichumbayobo Gate. Chimpanzee conservation activities in this Forest are managed by Jane Goodall Foundation, the Non-Government Organization responsible for conservation of these Great Apes.

How Chimpanzee Tracking is conducted in Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo ForestDepartures for Chimpanzee tracking adventure in Budongo Forest happen at Kaniyo-Pabidi ecotourism site each day in the morning (07:00am) and afternoon (3:00pm). These treks begin with registration and briefing about chimpanzee behaviors, how to behave in the presence, guidelines and what to expect in the forest. Participants later enter into the verdant rainforest in the company of a Ranger guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The entire chimpanzee trekking process lasts 2-5 hours (including the magical hour in the presence of the Great Apes) and after locating them, spend the one hour observing and photographing as they go about their interesting daily routine of foraging, resting/napping, playing and grooming each other. What makes chimpanzee trekking even exciting is the fact that more primates such as olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and many others are encountered alongside forest bird species such as Ituri batis, Nubian woodpeckers, African pied wagtail, Olive-breasted greenbul, Arrow-marked barbets, white-fronted black chat and crested guineafowls among others. Standard chimpanzee treks guarantee one hour in the presence of chimpanzee but visitors that wish for more time with these Great Apes can book for the full-day Chimpanzee habituation Experience trip.

Chimpanzee Tracking Permits for Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee tracking Permits for Budongo Forest cost only $85 per person per trek and are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority. These permits allow a maximum of 6 persons to spend time with each habituated chimpanzee Troop and are on high demand during the dry seasons (also peak months) especially in the months of January, February, June, July, August, September and December.

These permits have to be booked in advance (at least 3 months earlier) and preferably through a tour operator to avoid the hustle and long lines at Uganda Wildlife Authority Head Offices. Who is eligible for this adventure? Persons above 15 years (verified with passport) are eligible for these chimpanzee treks in Budongo Forest.

Best time of the year to trek Chimpanzees in Budongo Forest

Before even asking when it is the best or right time to trek chimpanzees in Budongo Forest, remember that it is a Tropical rainforest where downpours are expected anytime of the year. However, little rains are expected during the dry season-December to January and June to August thus always considered more favorable. These months come along with more visitors although the wet season-March to May and October to November also offer amazing trekking experiences. Trails tend to be muddy and slippery during these months given the heavy downpours but the advantage is that chimpanzees have abundant food hence won’t move deeper into the forest. They can surprisingly be encountered at the edge of the forest or short distance from Budongo Ecolodge.

Chimpanzee tracking guidelines to be followed in Budongo Forest

Participants have to be at least 15 years old to trek Budongo Chimpanzees.

Avoid littering the Forest when trekking Chimpanzees because rubbish is breeding place for disease-causing germs.

Always maintain a distance of 8 meters between you and the endangered Great Apes.

Chimpanzee treks in Budongo Forest are limited to 6 persons to avoid stressing the Great Apes and limiting any possible spread of diseases.

Maximum time to be in the presence of Budongo Chimpanzees is one hour.

Do not chase or touch chimpanzees because they could become aggressive.

Avoid imitating chimpanzee calls/vocalizations such as hoots, screams and many others because they could perceive it as provocation.

Visitors with cough and flue should avoid trekking chimpanzees because they are susceptible to these diseases and other human illnesses.

What to bring for Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo Forest

Persons interested in tracking chimpanzees in Budongo Forest should bring comfortable and breathable long-sleeved shirts and safari pants, flashlight, pair of binoculars, strong hiking boots, sunglasses, insect repellant, waterproof backpack, re-usable water bottle, snacks, camera, first aid kit, hat and sunscreen among others.

Where to stay when tracking Budongo Chimpanzees

Budongo Ecolodge is the main accommodation facility found at the heart of Budongo Forest. This Ecolodge is managed by “Uganda Lodges” and offers cozy Eco-cabins featuring private veranda, 4 capacious dorm rooms, spacious restaurant and Visitor center among others.

How to get to Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is set within the south-eastern side of Murchison falls National Park and is mainly accessible through Kichumbayobo gate, about 4-5 hours’ drive from Kampala. Visitors from Fort Portal can also connect to this Forest in a 6-hour road trip. Flights can be organized from Entebbe International Airport/Kajjansi Airstrip to Pakuba Airstrip in Murchison falls National Park.

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