Chimpanzee Trekking Safaris

Embark on an exhilarating chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda. Hike through dense forests, witness their playful antics, and observe the complex social dynamics of these intelligent primates – a truly unforgettable experience.

Adventures with Africa's Chimpanzees

Explore the enchanting world of chimpanzees on a thrilling adventure in the lush rainforests of Uganda. Chimpanzee trekking safaris offer an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with our closest animal relatives. As you journey through the jungle, you'll be captivated by the striking similarities in behavior and emotions between chimpanzees and humans. Whether you're witnessing a mother's affection for her baby or the playful antics of the young ones, chimpanzee trekking adventures in Uganda and Rwanda promise an unforgettable wildlife experience.

Uganda's chimp tracking isn't just a substitute for gorilla trekking; it's a unique attraction in its own right. These chimpanzees inhabit different environments and have distinct social structures, making the treks to visit them in their natural sanctuary a fascinating experience due to their genetic closeness to us. They exhibit both endearing and intriguing sides to their personalities.

What makes Uganda the best destination to watch chimpanzees in Africa is its ability to offer a diverse range of wildlife safari experiences within a single itinerary. Chimp trekking in Uganda is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary wildlife encounters you can have in Africa.

Chimpanzee treks last a couple of hours and include a maximum of one hour with a habituated chimp troop, during which you can expect to see the chimps from a safe but intimate distance of 10 meters. Get up close and personal with the chimpanzees and discover their intelligence and social structures.

An alternative to chimpanzee trekking is the full-day immersive chimpanzee habituation experience. You can join primate researchers, their assistants, and rangers for a half or full-day excursion deep into the forest, following and observing a wild troop. These chimps are less used to human presence, making the experience more unpredictable and physically demanding. While it can be challenging to follow these agile primates on their foraging expeditions, the experience is undoubtedly rewarding.

Chimpanzee Trekking Safari Packages

Be inspired by a selection of our favorite chimpanzee trekking safari packages. Whether you want to adventure in Uganda's rainforest or Rwanda's highlands – all packages are completely flexible and arranged to your travel needs.


The best places for chimpanzee trekking in Africa

Uganda boasts three major chimpanzee trekking destinations: Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest just outside Murchison Falls National Park, and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Rwanda presents Akagera National Park as the chimp destination. Of these, Kibale Forest stands out as the best place for chimpanzee trekking, with its high population densities making chimp sightings more frequent and accessible.

Kibale National Park

Kibale Forest National Park, situated in the lush, green landscapes of western Uganda, is the best destination for the thrilling chimpanzee trekking safaris. Home to approximately 1,500 chimpanzees, this pristine rainforest is not only rich in biodiversity but also easily accessible from the country's entry city, Entebbe. Encounters here are guaranteed up to a tune of 98%. Moreover, its strategic location along the western Uganda safari circuit allows for seamless integration with other captivating wildlife experiences.

Chimpanzee tracking excursions are offered twice daily, with departures at 08:00 and 14:00. Mornings tend to be busier due to many itineraries coupling them with an afternoon visit to the enchanting Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. To embark on these treks, you'll need chimpanzee tracking permits, which can be acquired through the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Furthermore, Kibale extends the opportunity for chimpanzee habituation experiences that offer a full-day adventure with the primates. On these treks, you share your day with the chimpanzees, commencing when they leave their nests around 06:30 and concluding when they settle in for the night, typically around 19:00.

Budongo Forest Reserve

Budongo Forest Reserve is located along the southern edge of Murchison Falls National Park in northwestern Uganda. Combined with Murchison Falls National Park, the diversity of experiences you can have in this place is simply astounding. A single visit opens the door to various adventures, from thrilling game drives and serene boat cruises to engaging chimp treks, invigorating hikes to majestic waterfalls and picturesque landscapes, and tranquil evenings at boutique lodges overlooking the expansive savannah.

For those keen on chimpanzee tracking, Budongo Forest Reserve is one of the best places to watch chimps in the wild. Here, your chances of coming into contact with these remarkable creatures are notably high, with an impressive 80% contact rate, surpassing that of Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. While Kibale may offer greater odds of sightings, the fewer visitors in Budongo create a more intimate and personal experience. Securing tracking permits is a straightforward process through the National Forestry Authority.

Guidance in Budongo is particularly commendable, with up to six guided groups, each comprising three individuals, embarking on chimp trekking expeditions every morning and afternoon. 

Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda

Tucked within Rwanda's southwestern mountains lies the enchanting Nyungwe Forest National Park. This ancient rainforest, one of Africa's oldest, is a haven for diverse wildlife and a top destination for primate enthusiasts seeking a thrilling adventure.

Within Nyungwe Forest, steep slopes and lush vegetation provide a haven for numerous primates, including a large population of chimpanzees. Guided by expert trackers, embark on a trek into this primeval forest, immersing yourself in its vibrant sights and sounds. While encounters aren't guaranteed, the anticipation builds with each step, making the sighting of these intelligent apes even more rewarding.

Nyungwe Forest offers a unique and unforgettable wildlife experience. It's often included in gorilla trekking itineraries or as a stand-alone destination for those seeking to explore the rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes within this remarkable rainforest.

Kyambura Gorge 

Hidden within the otherwise flat savannah that borders Queen Elizabeth National Park lies the enchanting Kyambura Gorge. This discreet gem is one of the best places for chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda.

Located in the far eastern reaches of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura Gorge is affectionately known as 'the Valley of the Apes.' Carved over centuries by the meandering Kyambura River, this lush forest, clothing the gorge's walls, is an ideal sanctuary for primates.

Guided by a knowledgeable expert from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, you'll step into this concealed forest and instantly be transported to another world. While a modest community of 17 chimps calls the gorge home, your chances of encountering them hover around 60%. The forest's captivating sights and sounds add a layer of anticipation to the experience, rendering each chimp sighting all the more rewarding.

Kyambura Gorge is frequently included as an enriching addition to an existing safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where the abundance of wildlife draws visitors for thrilling game drives, serene boat cruises, and the famous tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha Sector of the park.

Uganda and Rwanda are year-round destinations with their equatorial climate, which maintains a consistent temperature throughout the year. Its seasons, however, are distinguished by varying levels of rainfall. The long rainy season extends from March to May, and the short rainy season occurs in October and November.

Chimpanzee trekking safari conditions in Uganda are most favorable during the dry spells of June to September and December to February. The clear, sunlit skies during these periods enhance the overall trekking experience. However, it's essential to remain mindful of possible sporadic downpours, as Uganda's tropical climate can be unpredictable.

June to September marks Uganda's peak tourist season, which often leads to increased accommodation costs to meet the surge in demand. However, if you are willing to brave more challenging trekking conditions, visiting during the rainy season can be a cost-effective alternative.

Additionally, obtaining trekking permits tends to be more accessible during the rainy seasons, owing to reduced demand. And accommodation is easy to secure.

How difficult is chimpanzee trekking?

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda demands a reasonable degree of physical fitness, as these treks typically extend for approximately three hours, which involves following a troop of loudy apes.

Unlike gorillas, chimpanzees primarily inhabit lower altitudes, and the terrain is relatively gentle, allowing you to focus your attention on observing the chimpanzees. However, chimpanzees are known for their high activity levels and agility, often darting through the forest. You should be prepared to move swiftly on short notice to keep pace with them.

Your trek will primarily follow established forest trails, but readiness to navigate through the undergrowth may be necessary if the chimpanzees are situated away from these paths. It's important to note that during the rainy season, the trails can become slippery and the forest denser, which can heighten the trek's level of difficulty.