Chimpanzee Tracking In Kibale Forest National Park. Found in the western part of Uganda in the districts of Kibale and Kabarole. The park was established in 1995 to protect the forest and stop illegal logging but over the years, chimpanzees have become a key attraction. The park is close to the Rwenzori mountains, Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Semuliki National Park. Kibale is referred to as the primate’s capital of the world because of the sheer variety/density of primates and for being the best place to track chimpanzees in Est Africa
With a population of over 1500 chimps, Kibale National Park is arguably the best place for tracking chimpanzees in the world. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale starts at 8am with a briefing from the rangers at the visitor’s center in Kanyanchu. The briefing covers important aspects of the activity like what to expect, length of the activity and how to act around the primates. The rangers will also give a brief background of the forest and chimpanzees in general. After the briefing, it’s time to head out into the forest. The ranger moves with a gun to scare off large mammals like elephants and chimps which are too wild (not habituated).
The great thing about tracking chimpanzees in Kibale is that you don’t need to walk very far to locate a group. In fact, it is only Kibale National Park where you are almost guaranteed seeing the chimps. Chimpanzees are very loud and you can hear them hooting miles away even before spotting them. However, you will still need to follow them – sometimes at high speed in order to catch up with them. Chimps are very observant. So much that by the time you spot them, they would have already seen you.
Chimps are not gentle like mountain gorillas. Once you are in the midst, expect a lot of drama and activity. You will watch them look for food, breastfeed, groom each other and mate. You may even witness fights between members of the group or larger males. Like we humans, each chimp has a unique personality and behavior. Some are quiet, others are shy while some love bullying others. Like humans, there are group dynamics and politics. Always follow the lead of the Guide because they know each chimp by behavior and character. They will advise you on which individuals to go close to and those to stay clear of. Chimpanzee trekking can leave you with a strained neck because the primates love staying on top of the trees. You need to be aware of falling fruit, urine and even poop. You are only allowed one hour with the chimps after they settle down.