Chimp tracking

One of Uganda’s top tourist activities is chimpanzee tracking. The experience of seeing these primates that are 1% separated from our human intelligence and DNA is a joyful one.

In this article, we’ll give a rounded idea of what is involved before you can embark on a Uganda safari to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat.

What is involved

To see chimpanzees in their wilderness homes, you will need to visit the natural forests where they live. The chimpanzees you will see are habituated. This means that they have been trained and familiarised with people – and therefore are much more predictable in their behaviour towards humans.

Depending on your time of tracking chimps (morning or afternoon), the exercise starts at designated points in the national park and is headed by a ranger-guide who is very familiar with the place. Since they live in forested areas, the walk through the forest as you track can last up to a couple of hours and the whole activity can be quite tiresome.

After reaching the group of chimpanzees, the rangers can explain the various thing you are observing the chimpanzees do. Even various vocalisations mean different things – and they will tell you.

Where to see them

In Uganda, you can see chimpanzees in 4 different places.

  • Kibale Forest National Park
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Murchison Falls National Park
  • Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

The most popular place for chimpanzee tracking in Uganda is in Kibale Forest National Park. Kibale has the highest concentration of chimps in the whole world and the experiences are wonderful.

Chimpanzees can also be seen in Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Kyambura as well as in Murchison Falls National Park forests of Budongo.

The 4th place where you can see chimpanzees in their natural habitat is at the Ngamaba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Lake Victoria. The chimpanzees in Ngamba Island are mostly rescued orphans and victims of illegal wildlife activity. Ngamba is there fore not a natural habitat for chimps in the traditional way – even though they do get a natural rain forest to live.

The Entebbe zoo is another place where you can find chimps, but chimp tracking is an experience that involves looking for these animals in the depths of the rain forest. That is why it is being left out on purpose.

Chimp tracking & Conservation

Chimpanzees are classified as endangered animal species. One of the biggest threats to the existence of Chimpanzees is habitat loss. This happens when more land where they live is converted for human economic use.

Through tourism (Chimpanzee tracking) the money collected is used to fund research, and other conservation activities. The most fruitful of those activities that is born from tourism is community involvement.

When money is collected from the sale of chimpanzee tracking permits, a percentage of it is directly invested back into the local and neighbouring communities. This has created strong allies with the local people in both the efforts of conservation as well as tourism.


As a requirement for seeing chimpanzees, each person must have a chimpanzee tracking permit which is bought from the Uganda Wildlife Authority – and is valid for a specific date and time of day. Chimpanzee tracking permits, just like gorilla permits, are limited in number and always sold on a first come first serve basis.

Here is the full list of what is require for chimpanzee tracking in Uganda.

  • You must have 1 Chimpanzee tracking permit per person
  • You must be older than 12 years.
  • You must not have any communicable diseases such as flu or cough.
  • You should be in a fairly fit physical condition. Because tracking involves walking through thick rain forest. Here are the other things that are a good idea to have. These are recommended as part of your packing.
  • A light jacket – incase it rains abruptly as it often does in the rainforests
  • Bottled water – because the walking will dehydrate you.
  • Binoculars – because forests are filled with birds of all kinds, colors and sounds
  • Camera – in case you want to get some original pictures to remember your trip by.
  • Confortable shoes. Your walking/hiking shoes should be comfortable. The best option is when they are already well worn in.
  • Sunscreen and wide hat – to make sure the hot sun is well blocked.For someone who is already preparing for the trip, these various requirements and recommendations are always further elaborated. For things like permits, we do handle that early in time so that our guest are guaranteed of their experience even weeks before they can set off for the safari.

Chimpanzees are very interesting primates, and observing them in the natural environment is a great walk to connect with the natural world and get a new perspective. As Exclusive African Safaris, we do handle many clients who choose to do chimpanzee tracking and never get to regret it.

The normal flow of a safari rarely includes one activity – in this case, chimp tracking, unless you request it to be so. For the most part, a safari that includes chimps also has safari game drives in the savannah parks and maybe even gorilla tracking in Southwestern Uganda.

Finally, if you have questions or concerns, just send us a quick email via the contact form and we will be happy to assist in any way we can.
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