Chimp Trekking & Habituation Experience
Over 600 chimpanzees live in the mahogany tree-lined forests of Murchison Falls National Park.
During the 1970s and 80s, the number decreased substantially as two civil wars broke out. Many chimps were killed, with infants being smuggled. By 1995, researcher Vernon Reynolds established a conservation project with the support of The Jane Goodall Institute. 50 primates were initially found, but the numbers started to increase by 2000. 20 years later and Murchison Falls is the second-best place for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, second only to Kibale Forest National Park.
For the standard chimp trekking experience, you will meet your guide at 7am for a safety talk and briefing. You’ll then head out into the forests in search of the chimps. Most treks last around 3-hours, but can be longer. Once contact is made, you will spend an hour observing the chimps, watching how they behave in their natural habitat.
For the habituation experience, you will meet your guide at 6am to set off and find the chimps asleep in their nests before they wake up at 6/6.30am. Throughout the day you will discover the chimp’s daily habits, from eating to playing and patrolling. Your guide will give you detailed information about the chimps before they make up their new nests for the evening, which is when you’ll have to set off.
Permits cost $85 for trekking and $220 for the habituation experience at time of writing.
Hiking & Trekking
You can hike to the top of the Murchison Falls, or enjoy a nature walk through Kaniyo Pabidi or Rabongo forest. Visitors are only permitted to walk these designated trails.
The top of the falls hike starts with a boat ride to ‘The Baker Point’, named after the British explorer, Sir Samuel Baker. The guided hike takes 45 minutes. You will walk through rolling hills, surrounded by the verdant countryside, and a plethora of birds. As you meander through the park, the ever-present thunder of the crashing falls gets louder and louder, until it surrounds you completely.
Once you reach the top, you will see the Nile forcing its way between a narrow 7-metre gorge, before plunging 43-metres off the cliff and into the pool below.
After witnessing the dramatic falls, explore the diversity of African wildlife found in Murchison as you hike though Kaniyo Pabidi and Rabongo forest. Alongside chimpanzees, you’ll likely spot olive baboons, white and black colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and blue monkeys.
Murchison Falls is home to 76 species of mammals, and 451 species of birds, which you can explore over a 3 to 4-hour game drive.
The drive will mainly take place in the northern part of the park, which is dominated by open savannah grasslands. To begin, you will head for the Albert delta track, where many water birds, buffaloes, crocodiles, lions, and giraffes can be found.
The Buligi Peninsula track is prime for game viewing, as the open grassland is hugged by the Nile. Here you’ll likely spot elephants, buffalos, leopards, hippos, and giraffes by the water.
There are two boat cruises to choose from at Murchison, each heading in a different direction along the Nile that cuts through the park.
The Albert delta takes off from Paraa and leads you down the Nile towards the shores of Lake Albert. It travels 28km, taking between 4-5 hours. The morning session is best for bird spotting, particularly the prehistoric-looking shoebill stork. Join an afternoon cruise to watch the sun slowly set over boundless grasslands, as game and water life can be seen down by the riverbanks.
The second cruise, the launch trip, leaves Paraa marching upstream towards the mighty Murchison Falls. Once reaching the falls, you’ll witness the water cascading through a small 7-metre gorge, creating an almighty splash and carrying mist through to the boat. As you glide along the water, passing pods of hippos and bathing elephants, the 3-hour trip won’t feel long enough.
During both cruises, you’ll likely spot birds, game, and crocodiles sunbathing on the side of the bank.
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