Chimp Trekking in Kibale Forest

Chimpanzee trekking, too often overshadowed by gorilla trekking in Uganda, is one of the best wildlife experiences in Africa - many travellers (including team members here at Brilliant) actually rank it higher than gorilla trekking. 

Two treks take place every day in Kibale National Park, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The terrain of the forest is not too challenging, particularly in comparison to the often gruelling terrain of gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This makes the trekking more comfortable and more accessible for those who aren't up for difficult hiking. 

A typical trek will take around 3 hours, including one hour with the chimps. 

Adult chimpanzee in Kibale Forest, staring at the camera.

Chimps are our closest living relatives, and they share 98.7% of our DNA.

A typical trek

The trek starts with a briefing from the park rangers. They'll talk you through the route you'll be taking, the safety precautions, and explain more about the chimps and their behaviour in the wild. 

You will then head off into the forest in search for a habituated group of chimps, these are chimps that are accustomed to human presence. These groups tend not to retreat too deeply into the forest, meaning you don't have to hike as far before coming across your first troop swinging in the trees above.

Once contact is made, you can spend an hour observing their behaviour, with your trekking guides providing more context on what you are seeing and how the chimps behave. 

Baby chimpanzee swinging through the trees of Kibale Forest.

Baby chimp swinging through the Kibale Forest.

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Brilliant says

In addition to the chimpanzees, Kibale National Park is home to 12 other species of primate as well as a range of birds and other animals. It is a wildlife lover’s paradise. You'll encounter much of this flora and fauna on your way to and from the chimps. 

Organising a Chimp Trek

Visitors must be at least 15 years old to take part in a chimpanzee trek, and there is a limit of six guests per group. The cost of the permit for a chimpanzee trek is $200 at time of writing, which includes the cost of the park entrance, and must be booked well in advance due to the high demand.

Treks are possible year-round, during both peak seasons June to August and December to February when there is less rain, as well as in the other quieter but wetter months.

If you want to spend more than just one hour in the presence of the chimpanzees, it is possible to take part in a chimpanzee habituation experience which offers the chance to spend a half day, or full day, with these incredible primates.

Chimpanzee staring into the distance in Kibale Forest on Kibale habituation experience.

Get up close and personal with the chimps on a habituation experience.

Kibale Chimpanzee Project

Established in 1987 by Dr Richard Wrangham, the Kibale Chimpanzee Project has studied wild chimpanzees in Uganda for over 30 years.

KCP’s dedicated team study the behaviour, ecology, and physiology of wild chimpanzees. Each day, the team records data on chimpanzee social behaviour, party composition, ranging, feeding, and health. This database has provided ground-breaking insights into primate behavioural diversity, human evolutionary ecology, and chimpanzee conservation.

The KCP works with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to remove snares that can severely injure chimpanzees. Despite Kibale’s protected status, illegal poaching is still common.

The researchers know each chimpanzee by name and face. The group includes characters like Lanjo, a young adult male in his prime and Outamba, a very successful mother in her thirties.

Adult chimpanzee lying on the floor of Kibale Forest.

View these beautiful primates in their natural habitat.

Ready to explore Kibale Forest?

The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.

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