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 Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National Park: Chimp Tracking Permits, Acommodation Costs & Fess

Kibale Forest National Park is one of the few places on Earth where your chances of spotting chimpanzees are as good as 95%. This verdant National Park shelters almost 1500 chimpanzees within its dense and sprawling canopy extending for over 795 square kilometers. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National Park is the best adventure one can enjoy on a visit to this magnificent primate destination in Uganda.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest National ParkSet within the western side of the country, Kibale Forest National Park is haven to 5 habituated chimpanzee Troops that are interestingly been trained and accustomed to human interaction. Because close human encounters are expected, these creatures were first habituated to make them less wild and scared. Walks through this lush Forest National Park usually leave the Kanyanchu Tourist Center by 8:00am, 11:00am or 2:00pm depending on the session and it is from this area that the starting points are found. Most treks are however conducted in the morning because it is the time when these Great Apes are most active hence the best time of the day to trek and encounter them in their natural habitat although there is no guarantee of finding them, given the fact that they are wild animals.

How Kibale Forest Chimpanzee treks are conducted

Prior to setting off for chimpanzee treks in Kibale Forest National Park, a Park Ranger attached to Uganda Wildlife Authority conducts registration and briefing explaining what to expect from these Great Apes’ behavior as well as guidelines of trekking before placing you into a group. A number of ground rules/guidelines are provided during briefing such as not touching the chimpanzees, maintaining a minimum distance of 8 meters away from them, being careful not to antagonize chimpanzees by imitating their faces, noises and calls.

Trekking groups involve only 6 persons (excluding the Ranger and expert guides). The search for these endangered primates begins immediately after allocation into groups and involves hiking through the thick forest characterized by tangled trees and hanging vines, while led by an armed Ranger to where these creatures were last spotted.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale ForestIn most cases, the chimpanzees are heard first instead of being seen by their hooting calls that echo through the treetops for several kilometers and this is the most thrilling indicator that they are somewhere nearby. Chimpanzee communities/Troops comprise of up to 100 individuals, much as they spend their day in smaller Troops of 5-15 members. They will mainly be found munching on figs and young leaves up on tree branches, grooming, resting/sleeping, playing or taking care of their young ones.

Visitors are allotted a maximum of one hour to observe them go about their daily activities and to make the experience even more interesting, these chimpanzees get down to the forest floor and display some interesting playful chimpanzee antics. Nothing beats the experience of coming face to face with completely wild but oddly familiar creatures that are said to be our close cousins. Studies have found these Great Apes to share up to 98.7 % DNA with humans.

chimp tracking KibaleGiven chimpanzee vulnerability and endangerment, chimpanzee trekking adventures in Kibale Forest National Park are strictly enforced by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is for this reason that acquiring a valid chimpanzee permit is crucial to enjoy these adventures. With these permits, trekkers are qualified to enter into the forest and spend time with these Great Apes. Majority of travellers organize for permits as part of their Uganda safari package, either with a local Tour Operator in Uganda or Travel Agency before undertaking the trip. However, booking for permits can also be done directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority (via email, phone or physical presence at their Offices in Kampala).

Cost of Chimpanzee permits for Kibale Forest National Park

Chimpanzee trekking permits cost $150 although discounts are sometimes provided by Uganda Wildlife Authority. Ordinary chimpanzee permits guarantees one hour with these Great Apes but if you sign up for the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience, you will need to pay $220 and guarantees an entire day with the chimpanzees.

What to wear and carry for chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National Park

Chimpanzee treks are generally unpredictable with walks lasting 30 minutes to 4 hours before the Park Rangers finally find the allotted chimpanzee Troop. The good news is that the terrain of Kibale Forest National Park is generally flat and therefore isn’t very physically demanding. That said, forest trails can be dense, uneven and if it just recently rained, it becomes more muddy and slippery. To make these treks easier, a good and comfortable pair of hiking boots is therefore a must-have. Long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, rain jacket and long pants are advisable. For these treks, expect for paths to be created with machetes while stinging nestles, thorns and all kinds of insects should be expected during these treks.

When is the ideal time to trek chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park

For easier and less challenging treks, the months of January, February, June, July, August, September and December are the most ideal times to trek these chimpanzees. The Forest paths are most likely to be drier and easier to walk through while the months of March, April, May, October and November are the wettest hence more difficult in addition to visibility in the forest drastically reducing.

How to get to Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is only 19 miles from the Town of Fort Portal and majority of the travellers spend few days there while trekking chimpanzees and undertaking other riveting tourist activities. To get to this Park, a private 4WD Vehicle is the most comfortable option and can be arranged through Car Rental Companies or Tour Operators.

The Town of Fort Portal is approximately 186 miles from the Capital (Kampala). Public buses can operate regularly between Kampala and Fort Portal.

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