Chimpanzee Trekking Destinations
History has it that the native south Africans of that time took on a trek in protest to the white man’s rule, how about if we create our own history but this time trekking our very close cousins? The chimpanzee trek is one I would call a great trek and worth giving attention. Among all primates, this endangered species share 98% DNA with human beings. Being our closest relatives they have very intelligent brains with the ability to take on new tasks this is displayed in their ability to build nests for resting during the wee hours of the night. Chimpanzees display five major personalities like humans extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, openness and agreeableness. Chimps also get both positive and negative emotions just like any other primate, they are able to discern good and bad as well, they open up to each other in their communities and also agree or disagree during their communications. They have the ability to use gestures while communicating with each other for example nodding of the head, they also have facial expressions, use hand gestures as well, body positions and are often heard making various noises in the habitat. Just like humans at the age of 13-15yrs these our cousins can be called adults meaning the females begin conceiving at this age. Most of the living chimps have been observed giving birth only to 3 children and this lives up to around 40years if in the wild and can go up to 60years in captivity.
Chimpanzees live in communities and with their natural intelligence create tools to ease their survival just like human beings, they easily adapt to new environments and in the wild, they group themselves into 10-100 individuals always looking out for each other and also caring for each other. By the age of 4 yrs an infant chimpanzee starts to show signs of independence and is not so attached to its mother, the females usually move from one community to another once adolescence clocks just like human adolescent girls. The males keep and always exhibit authority over the females and are sometimes spotted beating the female with tree branches as you know this gender is superior.
The pearl of Africa offers the best experience and unforgettable memories when it comes to chimpanzee trekking, having over 7 gazetted places that these endangered species have chosen to be home with a population of over 5000 chimps. Chimps in Uganda can easily trek in Kibale forest national park, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park, Budongo forest In Murchison falls national park, Kalinzu forest, Ngamba island and lastly Uganda wildlife education centre in Entebbe.
Kibale Forest National Park
Located in the western part of Uganda in the kingdom of Toro, the Kibale forest covers an area of 766sqkm. it’s moist and evergreen all through the year being a tropical rain forest, it has an abundance of rainfall. The forest is blessed with a rich abundance of primates, with more than 13primates living in it, we can call it the primate capital in the world harbouring over 1500 chimps and over 100 chimps habituated by tourists. It’s actually the best destination for a primate safari and has a 99% success of seeing not only chimps but also red-tailed monkeys, red colobus monkeys, baboons, bush babies, olive baboons, blue and black monkeys, and the very rare L’Hoest’s monkeys among the rest.
Stepping into the wild starts around 8 am, and the trek goes for about 2-3hrs led by an experienced ranger a maximum of one hour is allowed for visitors around the chimps for you to appreciate these creatures that are so closely related to us, an afternoon trek is also available and this starts around 2 pm.
This is the second best destination for chimpanzees and is located near queen Elizabeth national park meaning you can trek here for your queen Elizabeth safari, the trek may require walking a longer distance than in Kibale, with over 300 chimps only over 40 chimps are habituated for tourists, chances of seeing chimps in this forest are over 60% . Numerous birds and butterflies are also easily spotted you can see these during the trek and over200 trees.
Located in the northwestern part of Uganda and northeast of lake Albert and part of Murchison falls national park, Budongo forest is the third best destination for a chimpanzee trekking safari with over 600-700 chimps. With over 6 communities of chimpanzees and only 3 communities that are used by humans. The largest group commonly visited is the Kaniyo Pabidi chimpanzee community that was habituated by the Jane Goodall institute, there is 80% chance of seeing this community during your trek in Budongo forest.
Located in the famous queen Elizabeth national park, Kyambura gorge also harbours a small population of chimps and it’s not easy to spot chimps in this gorge being only about 30 individuals and chimps travel through the forest in search of food and habitat. The forest offers a memorable lifetime –experience being underground and is also located in one of the most visited national parks. Their chances of spotting hippos and elephants drinking water in the gorge.
Semuliki wildlife reserve
Bordering Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Semuliki wildlife reserve is another habitat where a small community of chimps found a home. With over 260 individuals living in 3 communities, most chimps in this area move around the savanna vegetation for food as observed by the India n researchers. The reserve is also famous for birding and numerous bird species can be spotted.
Ngamba Island wildlife sanctuary
Located in the middle of the lake the peaceful and calm water of lake Victoria, Ngamba island wildlife sanctuary is also another place where chimps are easily seen. It’s surprising that even chimps have an orphanage, well in Uganda we are mindful of these little ones whose mothers leave them at a tender or that get lost from their families. Over 52 orphans are taken care of by this sanctuary supported by chimpanzee sanctuary and wildlife conservation a Ngo that works hand I n hand with the Uganda government and wildlife authority to ensure these orphans have a conducive stay.
Wildlife Education Centre
Located in Entebbe, the education centre commonly visited by local schools in the country chimps are also found here though in very small numbers as this is mainly for education purposes
With their playful nature of moving from tree to tree chimps are so exciting to watch they are friendly and the habituated ones are used to human beings making. The trek in search of the chimps is a worthwhile and remarkable experience, a chimpanzee trekking safari can be done along with other safaris.