After Gorillas, chimpanzees are the second thought. Chimpanzees are among the most intelligent primates in the world. Chimpanzees are mostly found in the tropical regions of Africa like Uganda (Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National park), and Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park among others, not forgetting Rwanda where a wide variety of Rwanda tour packages are mainly composed of gorillas and chimpanzee tracking, historical and cultural tours.
For chimpanzee tracking, many tourists often prefer the months from June to September and then December, January and February.
In many parts of Africa, the first rains start coming in late February through March, April and May and so many tourists try to avoid these months for fear of getting muddy and all wet while tracking the chimps. However, during these months, because of the rains there’s plenty of chimpanzees’ food.
In Uganda, kibale forest National Park is the best site for tracking chimpanzees and meeting them is a guarantee. You can decide to track chimpanzees in the morning or in the afternoon and once you meet the chimps, one hour is given to chat and take pictures. It should be noted that, not always heavy though make it rather harder to trek the steep terrains. Even then, the rain only comes for like 1-2 hours in like every 2-3 days and the sun comes out. We have noticed that even in the so-called drier months, the rain will often come in.
This seasonality of chimpanzee trackers can also be attributed to the weather seasons in the visitors’ home country and the nature of their jobs. When it summer for example in Europe, numbers of chimpanzee trek visitors increase and the chimpanzee trackers numbers dip when it’s winter.
For visitors willing to stay with chimps for long time, they are advised to book chimpanzee habituation permits to be able to chat with chimps the whole day. With chimp habituation, trekkers wake up early, get briefed and search for the chimps – meet them before they leave their nests and leave them in the evening after they have left to sleep.
However, it should be noted that Chimp habituation is a bit expensive than mere trekking due to the variation in time spent with them – one hour and full day respectively, for instance, chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park (Uganda) costs US$150, while Chimps habituation Experience costs US$220 per person. These are rates for None Residents.
Booking / Organizing a Chimpanzee tour in East Africa
You must posses a chimpanzee permit to be able to join the trek in search for these amazing creatures. Chimpanzee permits can be booked through Travel Agents / Tour Operators, or direct through responsible bodies of respective countries like Uganda Wildlife Authority in Uganda. The whole tour to see chimpanzees can be escorted (Booked / organised through Tour Operators and Travel Agents) or self-drive without a tour guide; where the clients only rent a car from car rental companies and drive them selves to their preferred destinations.