East Africa is the best home to the best places in the world to track chimps if you know where to look. Discover the best spots across Uganda and Rwanda for seeing these great apes
Chimpanzees are in degeneration across their range: in parts of Africa they’re clinging on by their fingertips. But well-managed eco-tourism has the power to help protect the forests that are crucial to their survival.
The Albertine Rift, where East Africa meets the jungles of the Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, and Tanzania, is an excellent spot for a primate-watching adventure. Truly enormous in its biodiversity, These countries harbor most of Africa’s chimps as well as more endemic wildlife species than any other eco-region on the continent.
We talk of Primates Expedition where GoExplore safaris a luxury boutique safari company plans trips to, Uganda is arguably the pick of the lot, due to its prime habitats not only for chimps but for Mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and other primates. But it’s not the only option, as travelers to these regions will discover.
Kibale National Park, Kanyanchu, Kibale is the world’s most active chimping location. Accommodation is plenteous and the terrain is mostly flat and easy, with little undergrowth. One-hour sightings can feel crowded, with groups taking turns, but it’s also possible to book a full-day Chimpanzee habituation Experience (CHEX) year-round. This may yield sightings that, though less predictable, are longer and softer. There’s a chance that you may meet forest elephants in the park, too, which can be intimidating but amazing, but you’ll be with an armed guide who can fire a warning shot if necessary. Once you are on that Primate Expedition with your GoExplore safaris’ guide you will be guaranteed safety and the best experience as he drives you to the start point of your chimpanzee tracking.
Some of the Lodges GoExplore Partners with to enhance the great experience include; Ndali Lodge, Crater Safari Lodge, Papaya Lake Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, and Chimpanzee Forest House.
Budongo Forest Reserve, Kaniyo Pabidi, this is positioned near Lake Albert and deep within the Murchison Falls Conservation Area, this superb reserve has over 600 chimps and a rustic eco-lodge with links to a research station. The terrain is fairly flat and tourists can either set out for a half-day, watching a habituated group for an hour or during low season (January–June, and October–December) they can spend an entire day in the forest. It’s an excellent experience, even though the canopy is denser than Kibale, making photography more challenging.
Some of the Lodges GoExplore Safaris Partners with to enhance the experience in this region also include; Bakers Lodge, however, coupled with Chimp tracking you can also explore this super set National park Murchison falls with enormous wildlife and lodges where our Safari specialists will opt for you include Paraa Safari Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge, and Murchison river lodge.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura Gorge, Kyambura is a deep, forested gash in a lush plain with a gorgeous riverside pathway at its base. Its small community of chimps have a heart-breaking story: isolated from the main Maramagambo forest by an overrun village and grasslands where predators such as lions and hyenas prowl, they’re already showing signs of inbreeding. Here, you have the option of booking a guided walk in the gorge during your stay, and even if you only catch a glimpse of the chimps, the walk itself is glorious.
Lodges this region GoExplore partners with include; Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Park View Safari lodge, Katara Lodge and Mazike lodge, these are the best of choice that when you are on safari with us you will surely have a VIP treatment.
Nyungwe National Park, Cyamudongo Forest Tragically small at 4 sq km, Cyamudongo is adrift in a sea of tea plantations, eucalyptus groves, and smallholdings. Amazingly, though, around 40 chimps survive here at high altitude (over 2,000m). With its steep, slippery paths and thick vegetation, this is a trek only for the fit, but for the chance to see this bird-rich habitat, dripping with orchids and ferns, it’s more than worth it. In this National park, you will have overnights at One&Only Nyungwe house and Nyungwe Top View.
Chimp-tracking destinations in the making include two forests in Rwanda: Gisovu, which is part of Nyungwe, and Gishwati, a regeneration zone close to Volcanoes National Park. However, their small communities of chimps are not yet fully habituated but may become so in the years to come and the new Gishwati - Mukura National Park will also officially open to tourists in 2019.