Chimpanzee Tracking in East Africa : Among the attractions for an East African safari is chimpanzees, a popular primate species, in fact the second most sought after primate after the mountain gorillas. Chimpanzees are a cheekier, playful species that can be found in forest areas across a select East Africa primate destinations.
East Africa is endowed with so much beauty that you can spend up to a month exploring all the top destinations in East Africa, with each country giving you a uniqueness from the other visited; even if you do encounter the same wildlife most of the time, the experience is still unique in each destination.
While East Africa is known for the abundant diversity of wildlife including the most sought after big 5 animals in endless savanna plains, primates which are almost easily found in East Africa alone do attract the primate lovers to explore these destinations to come up close with them. The most sought after primate in East Africa is the mountain gorilla, whose population of about 1000 individuals can only be found in the Virunga Massifs encompassing Virunga National Park in the Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park plus Bwindi Impenetrable National Park both in Uganda. Apart from the mountain gorillas, the second most sought after primates in East Africa are the chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees in East Africa can also be found in a few select destinations. Chimpanzees in East Africa can be found in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania; with Uganda being the most preferred chimpanzee tracking destination for the different chimpanzee tracking destinations, all of which promise sightings of the chimpanzees.
What is chimpanzee tracking?
Chimpanzee tracking is an activity that involves travelers hiking through the forested area in search of the allocated chimpanzee group. Chimpanzee tracking is more eminent in Uganda chimpanzee destinations like Kibale National Park as well as in Rwanda and Tanzania; in Kenya they can easily be seen in the sanctuary, just as is the case at Ngamba Island where the chimpanzees are in an enclosed space and travelers only spot them through the mesh.
Looking to embark on a chimpanzee tracking adventure in East Africa and wondering where to best visit for a primates safari? Below are the different chimpanzee tracking destinations in East Africa;
Chimpanzee Tracking in Uganda
Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda is more advised for the fact that the country has a diversity of destinations to spot the chimpanzees in the wild, as well as a larger population of chimpanzees which are habituated for human interaction. Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda guarantees a traveler sighting the chimpanzees in their natural habitat, usually found going about their day-to-day activity of feeding, playing, resting and more. Below are some of the best places to see chimpanzees in Uganda;
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is a prominent chimpanzee tracking destination. With over 13 primates in Kibale National Park, the park is known as a primate paradise that travelers after encountering various primates in the wild can visit and be amazed. Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park are estimated at more than 1,450 individuals. Of this, there are a number of habituated chimpanzee groups that travelers can encounter with a chimpanzee tracking safari in Kibale National Park. Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park can be done in the morning at 8am, and in the afternoon with the trek starting at about 12pm.
Apart from chimpanzees, the other primates in Kibale Forest National Park to look out for include the Black and White Colobus, Grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Olive Baboon, Thomas Galago, Blue monkeys and pottos.
Budongo Forest is the second best chimpanzee tracking destination in Uganda. Budongo Forest is a great forest dominated by the African mahogany tree. Budongo Forest is located in the western region of Uganda and covers about 825 square kilometers. Budongo Forest is a greater part of Murchison Falls National Park, an amazing savanna park in Uganda famous for the thunderous waterfalls and various wildlife including lions and elephants.
Budongo Forest is operated by Dr. Jane Goodall Institute for Research and it is them that are responsible for the protection and conservation of the area, as well as run the chimpanzee tracking adventure here. Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest is also done twice a day, a morning experience at 7am, and an afternoon experience at 3pm.
Kyambura Gorge is a valley of different primates located inside Queen Elizabeth National Park, in the lower western region of Uganda. Kyambura Gorge is a forest gorge drained by River Kyambura. Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge has travelers embarking on a walk in the forested gorge and seeing the chimpanzees in the tree branches. Chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge are wild and not habituated for human visiting.
Apart from chimpanzees, other wildlife in Kyambura Gorge to look out for include primates like vervet monkeys, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys and others; as well as a variety of bird species like the Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Skimmer, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, White-tailed Lark, Papyrus Canary, among so many others.
Other chimpanzee destinations in Uganda also include Kalinzu Forest, Ngamba Island Sanctuary.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Rwanda
Chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda is the second most sought after Rwanda safari activity that has travelers trekking through the forest area of Nyungwe Forest National Park in search of the endangered primate species, chimpanzees, in their natural habitat. Nyungwe Forest is a remarkable still standing, and largest tract of montane rainforest in East Africa. Nyungwe Forest National Park has about 600 chimpanzee individuals, and 60 of which are habituated for human visit for chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda.
Apart from chimpanzees, there are a number of other primates to look out for. Other primates in Nyungwe Forest National Park include the Owl-faced monkey, Chinese golden monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, and Dent’s monkey, Ruwenzori Colobus, among so many others.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kenya
Chimpanzees are not native in Kenya, but a couple or group of rescued chimpanzees live in the wilderness of the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Ol Pajeta Conservancy. The chimpanzees in Ol Pajeta Conservancy were orphaned and rescued from traffickers and human abuse and as such cannot survive alone in the wild; only after being nursed back to good health.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was opened up in the 1990s after a civil war in Burundi threatened a rescue centre for chimpanzees there; Ol Pajeta provided this haven, and is supported by the Jane Goodall Institute.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Tanzania
There are 3 chimpanzee tracking destinations in Tanzania, with 2 being the better off options.
Gombe Stream National Park
Gombe Stream National Park Tanzania is where Jane Goodall started her research on chimpanzee behaviour in 1960. Ever since, a team of international primatologists and ecologists have joined the work she started, that it still continues today! Gombe Stream National park is the smallest Tanzania national park along the beautiful Lake Tanganyika. Apart from chimpanzees, travelers can also look out for Beachcomber olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys can be seen whilst chimpanzee tracking in Gombe Stream National Park.
Mahale Mountain National Park
Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the best kept secrets of Tanzania, boosting with a variety of wildlife including up to 800 chimpanzees. Asides the chimpanzees which attract most visitors, birds in Mahale Mountains National Park make the park all the more colourful and cheerful!
Rubondo Island National Park is another chimpanzee destination in Tanzania.
It is indeed beautiful to visit East Africa on a chimpanzee tracking safari; why however fly all those miles, to just see chimpanzees when you can do so much more with at the very least 5 days. East Africa boosts of so much more beyond chimpanzees and gorillas, including diverse savanna wildlife, waterfalls, mountains worth conquering, enjoy the endless beaches, and so much more. The great wildebeest migration, which is the most spectacular animal show in the world is also only in East Africa, why would you really overlook all that on your maiden, or continuous East African safari?
Serengeti Park Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area hosting the world’s largest caldera, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda, and so much more offer unforgettable wildlife safari experiences that you should look forward to experiencing. Get in touch with a trusted tour operator to help pitch you a tailored East Africa safari combining all the countries, or look to take on one after another; Kenya safari tours, Tanzania safaris and Rwanda safari tours amaze extremely.