Chimpanzees also known as Africa’s top primates are a great wildlife species to encounter by all kinds of travelers looking to experience a primate safari adventure vacation in some of Africa’s countries. These occupy the thick rain forest vegetation around the many countries in the tropics. These are the closest relatives to the humans sharing 98% of the DNA and are among the critically endangered species in the world.The best safari destinations to track these rare species include Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park, Ngamba Island, Kalinzu Forest, Kyambura Gorge (QENP), Budongo Forest. Other primates can also be spotted in these amazing places and these include; the white and black colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, golden monkey, grey cheeked mangabeys. They are larger as compared to the other primates and are more aggressive due to the fact that they go hunting for the small monkeys like the black and white colobus with in the tree branches. Just like their other relative the Gorillas, the chimpanzees also live together in groups called communities of 7 and more members with a dominant male referred to as the Alpha Male leading the group with females as well infants/juveniles. They feed on fruit basically despite the fact that they feed on on other types of vegetation like bark, honey, insects as well as other small chimps and monkeys.
They are fond of using numerous tools for gathering materials like branches & foliage to build their nests to rest for the nights. The bonds they form are fully connected especially between the females and the infants and when they become two years old they are free to move independently without the support of their mothers. They however become fully independent at the age of 6. In cases where the mother dies, the infants are taken care of by the brothers and sisters or any member of the group. Other than these places, travelers can transfer to the Gombe Stream National Park under the management of a prominent primatoligist known as Jane Goodall as well as Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park which is located just a few kilometers off the busy city of Kigali which is Rwanda’s capital.
Top Chimpanzee Destinations
Kibale Forest National Park;
Chimpanzee tracking is the most prominent safari activity carried out in the park and has attracted numerous tourists all over the world to come visit and experience the rare intelligent primate species of chimpanzees enjoying their thick forested vegetation to the fullest. Before transferring to the park for this amazing activity, you should ensure to purchase the chimpanzee tracking permit which costs USD $150 per person in the high season and USD $100 per person in the low season. There are two tracking sessions that take place a day and it is recommended to book your permit 6 days before your date of arrival. The walks begin at the Kanyanchu Visitor’s Center from 8:00 am and 15:00 pm for a period of 2-3 hours. You will move with a skilled ranger guide in groups of 6 and while navigating through the thick forest vegetation searching for the chimpanzees, you will spot other primates like the red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, grey cheeked Mangabeys an experience that is so rewarding and amazing. When you meet the chimpanzees, you will spend a period of an hour in their presence and here you will spot these feeding, breast feeding, playing, patrolling, copulating, socializing, etc while taking remarkable photos to keep for memory.
For travelers interested in encountering the chimpanzees to the fullest should pay and book the chimpanzee habituation experience in kibale since this enables them to watch the chimpanzees wake up very early to go experience what the brand new day has to offer. The experience gives a rich encounter with the primates i.e You will transfer to the Kanyanchu Visitor’s center where you will be briefed about the Dos and Don’ts around the chimpanzees and after with an experienced ranger guide you will transfer to the starting point then penetrate into the thick forest vegetation to experience the chimpanzees. The experience starts very early in the morning at 6:30 so as to watch these wake up then you will follow them from one step to another while they feed, patrol, copulate, breast feed and play an adventure encounter that is so remarkable. Ensure to carry packed lunch for you will spend the whole day with the chimpanzees and you will be amazed at how they live and enjoy their habitat to the fullest. You won’t leave the chimpanzee until they build new nests to rest and sleep in at night. At around 7:00-7:30 pm you will transfer back to your car and you will be transferred back to your lodge/ hotel for dinner and overnight. The permits for this cost US $220 per person.
Situated a few kilometers off the vast shores of Lake Victoria into the Lake, Ngamba island is a chimpanzee sanctuary that inhabits about 49 orphaned chimpanzees that are rescued from poaching/ illegal hunting in the different regions around Uganda. This was founded in October 1998 to take care of the orphaned chimps that have been freed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The island covers an area of 100 acres with mainly rain forest and is eco friendly with compost toilets, rainwater collection, proper waste management practices and solar energy for electricity and hot water. The island is open for all travelers looking to experience the chimpanzees and they will pay a fee so as to encounter and feed these as well as support the amazing project. The feeding process is so remarkable for all that involve themselves due to the fact that you will transfer with an experienced guide with some food in tins to feed the chimpanzees and this adventure experience is rewarding and wonderful. Different boats are available to transfer all kinds of travelers i.e budget, luxury and mid range and can be booked through the Ngamba Island Reservations Office. The speed boats take a period of 45-50 minutes to reach the Island where as the traditional boats/ canoes you will take a period of 90 minutes and by air from the prominent Entebbe/Kajjansi Airstrip, you will only take 20 minutes to land at the Island.
Located close to the popular Queen Elizabeth National park, the Forest can be accessed after a 4 hours drive from the park through the Mweya area. The Forest is in the western part of Uganda and inhabits more than 414 species of trees, shrubs, 378 bird species i.e Great Blue Turaco, Black and White Cascket, Cuckoos and Sunbirds as well as primate species like the Blue Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys and Chimpanzees which are the most prominently sought after by numerous travelers/ tourists all over the world. About 220 chimpanzees inhabiting the beautiful forest and more than 70 habituated to be tracked and encountered by numerous travelers around the world. The process involves transferring from one place to another in company of an experienced ranger guide who will inform you more about the uniqueness of these amazing primates and how they inter relate with each other on a daily basis in their thick forest vegetation habitat. you will spend a few minutes with them through taking their photos to keep as well as watch them play, patrol, feed, copulate, hunt and breast feed an experience that is so amazing and wonderful. There are also 262 Butterflies, 97 Moths, Reptiles and Flowers and these can be viewed along the way. The chimpanzee tracking permits for Kalinzu Forest Reserve cost approximately US $35 per person or 100,000 Uganda shillings and these should be booked about 4 months prior to the day of arrival.
Referred to as the Valley of Apes, the Kaymbura Gorge is located in the remote corner of the vast prominent Queen Elizabeth National Park South West of Uganda. Drained by River Kyambura which spans about 1 km across and is about 100 meters deep. The gorge includes verdant green vegetation which inhabits numerous wildlife animals, birds as well as primates like the black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys as well as vervet monkeys and the chimpanzees which are the most prominently tracked primate species in the gorge. Book a permit earlier about 4 months before the date of your arrival and these cost US $50 per person interested in tracking these amazing primates.
Nyungwe Forest National park
Located in the South Western part of Rwanda near the Burundi border, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a prominent chimpanzee safari destination due to the number of primates especially the chimpanzees that it inhabits. Many different visitors/ travelers transfer to the beautiful safari destination to encounter these remarkable primate creatures while they are in their thick vegetation habitat. The park was founded in 2004 and occupies an area of about 970 km2 with rain forest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs with Mount Bigugu with in the park boundaries and Cyangugu town which is the closest and is only 54 km to the west. There are numerous wildlife species that inhabit the park i.e 13 primate species, birds, flora and butterflies. Other than the wildlife species, the park offers other safari activities like canopy walks, bird watching, nature walks, etc.