Chimpanzee Trekking in Murchison Falls

In Murchison Falls National Park, it’s possible to go chimpanzee trekking in Budongo and Rabongo forest.

Budongo

Budongo forest is part of Murchison Falls conservation area and has the largest number of chimpanzees in Uganda. It’s also home to over 360 species of birds, 450 species of trees (including mahogany), and 24 species of mammals.

Alongside chimpanzees,you may come across olive baboons, white and black colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and blue monkeys.

Budongo has two ecotourism sites, Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro, and is managed by The Jane Goodall Institute.

Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

Rabongo

Rabongo, an island covered by tropical-river forest, where you will find chimpanzees and other primates such as baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys.

The forest consists of bountiful trees, and medicinal plants, making it a wonderful place to explore.

Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

What does a typical day of trekking entail?

Trekking is completed twice a day, once at 7am, and again at 3pm. You will need to arrive at the Kaniyo Pabidi eco-site, where you will have a briefing about your trek.

From here, you’ll head into the forest, following trails with a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guide.

The trek can take up to three hours and includes an hour of observing the chimpanzees.

If you’re wanting to partake in a full-day activity, you may prefer the chimpanzee habituation experience. During this, you’ll have an early breakfast, before meeting your guide at 6am. From there, you’ll find where the chimpanzees built their nests the night before. You will spend the day with the chimpanzees, watching them in their natural habitat, from the moment they wake up (around 6/6.30am), to the moment they build their new nests to sleep in. Throughout the day, you will witness them eating, resting, and patrolling.

While observing, your guide will teach you all about the chimpanzees, from trekking to how you can identify individual chimpanzees by looking at their markings.

This experience is aimed at helping the chimpanzees become habituated and comfortable with human presence. Budongo and Kibale National Park are the only two places that offer the chimp habituation experience in Uganda.

Kibale National Park is just under a 6 hour drive from Murchison falls, and is home to more than 1,000 chimpanzees, with over a 95% chance of seeing them on your visit.  

Murchison Falls National Park is the second-best place for chimp sightings and is an excellent add-on to experience even more diversity during your safari trip. 

Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

When’s the best time to go?

The ultimate time to go chimp trekking is between October and January. During these months, the trails are dry, the grass is short, and the fruits are ripening. However, the chimps may move deeper into the forest, as food and water are scarcer, so spotting them may take longer. 

In June and July, there’s high competition for both accommodation and permits, as the temperature is cooler and there’s less rainfall. Therefore, if you’d like to visit during this time, make sure you book several months in advance.

Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

How much does it cost?

You will need to purchase a permit before you can attend a chimp trek. You can get them from the UWA offices, and they cost $85 each. Only 16 permits for chimp trekking are sold per day, and you need to be above 15 years old to buy one.

If you’re wanting to partake in the chimpanzee habituation experience, the permits cost $220.

Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

What do I need to bring?

If you’ve never been trekking before, it’s important to understand what you need to pack. If you book with us, we will send you a detailed kit list ahead of your trip.

On your trek, we recommend you bring:

  • Lightweight waterproof trousers
  • A quick-dry long-sleeved T-shirt
  • A lightweight waterproof jacket
  • A hat
  • Thick socks
  • A sturdy pair of hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Rucksack
  • Bottled water
  • Sun cream
  • Insect repellent
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Camera/Phone
  • Packed lunch
Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

Where can I stay?

During your trek at Murchison Falls, we recommend you stay at Budongo Eco Lodge, which is also known as the Kaniyo Pabidi ecotourism site. It’s nestled in the centre of the forest and is the perfect place to stay if you have an early start.

The lodge consists of cabins with private verandas, as well as four dorm rooms.

On top of chimp trekking, it’s situated in a fantastic location for safari, forest walks, and bird watching.

Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

What else can I do at Murchison Falls?

Murchison Falls National Park is the best safari destination in Uganda. Its diversity of habitats, wildlife densities, and natural landscapes make it one of the most exciting wilderness areas on the western safari circuit. 

It’s the largest safari park in Uganda, with over 76 species of mammals and 451 species of birds. 

Game drives in Murchison offer excellent wildlife sightings. The park is home to four of the Big Five: lions, buffalo, elephants, and leopards.

The park is intersected by the Nile River as it winds its way through cataracts and falls, before relaxing into Lake Albert. If you take to the river on a boat cruise, you’ll find crocs, hippos, and plenty of water-birds. 

Combined with chimp trekking in the Budongo Forest, you’ve got an action-packed 3-day safari in one of Uganda’s most exciting national parks. 

There are plenty of boutique and luxe lodges that make perfect retreats after a day’s adventuring. You’ll leave Murchison with a heavy heart, but there’s still so much more of Uganda to explore…

Murchison Falls Chimpanzee Trekking

Ready to visit Murchison Falls?