Uganda is a home to 13 primate species most of which are found in Kibale National Park, located in western part of the country. Primates is one of the main tourist attractions in Uganda, as many people travel from different parts of the world for Chimpanzee tracking, Chimps habituation experience and mountain gorilla trekking adventures alongside other tourist activities such as white water rafting, wild game viewing, mountain climbing and community tours among others. Below are some of Uganda destinations one can visit for primate safari adventure;
Budongo Forest Reserve / Kanio Pabidi
Budongo Forest is placed northwest of Kampala, Capital city of Uganda on the way to Murchison Falls National Park which is approximately 3 hours’ drive. It is one of the stopover points for Uganda safari tourists to Kidepo valley national park and Murchison falls National Park.
Budongo Forests is a home the East Africa’s largest number of mahogany. The mahogany forest is homes to the Chimpanzees and a large number of forest birds which are sighted by tourists during on their holidays to this part of the world.
Budongo forest is also a home to a good number of wildlife that also attracts tourists to Uganda, for example, the forest accommodates about 360 species of birds including two endemic birds, about 290 butterflies, 24 mammals, 130 moths, 9 primates and approximately 465 tree species which includes swamp-forest, Cynometra-mixed to mentioned but a few.
The forest is an attraction to research activities from different research institute in the world. This is due to the presence of different tree species.
Accommodation around Budongo forest reserve include Budongo Eco Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Sambiya River Lodge, Red Chill Rest Camp, Nile safari lodge and many hotels around Masindi town.
Another destination for chimpanzees in Uganda is Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary sited on Lake Victoria shore. It was started in October 1998 to care for orphaned chimpanzees. The sanctuary accommodates about 48 chimpanzees rescued from poachers. The sanctuary acts has a rehabilitation center for the chimpanzees before being taken back to their natural habitat. It is a non- profitable organization whose main function is wildlife conservation. The sanctuary is open throughout the year for visitors interested in feeding and playing with Chimpanzees. For those interested in spending a night at Ngamba Island, accommodation is offered in self-contained tents on full board. For short time visitors, there are half day trips, morning and afternoon shifts.
Kibale National Park
Kibale National park is the home for the largest percentage of the chimpanzees which can be seen at any time of the year during your safaris to Uganda. The park is a habitat to 13 primate species, considered to be the highest concentration in Africa and among these include; Chimpanzees, Blue Monkeys, Red-Tailed Monkeys, Grey Checked Mangabeys, Black and white Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboons, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Golden monkeys, Vervet Monkeys and Galagos among others. The park also inhabits about 350 bird species and mammals such as forest Elephants and Buffaloes.
Most tourists to Kibale National Park primarily come for Chimpanzee tracking adventure, while others come for chimpanzee habituation experience. Other tour activities in Kibale area include bird watching, Bigodi wetland walk, forest walk and local community walk among others.
How Chimpanzee tracking differs from Chimpanzee habituation experience?
Chimpanzee tracking takes half day and done in 2 shifts, we have a morning and afternoon shift. It involves a guided walk in the forest in search for the habituated group of chimpanzees, sight and stay with Chimpanzees is 1 hour (Maximum), take photos and video recording. After an hour with the amazing chimpanzees in their natural habitat, return to the base, then to the lodge to lunch and relax as wait for afternoon activity according to your itinerary. The trek in search for chimps is enjoyable and informative with experienced park guides. Expect an encounter with other primates like Olive Baboons, Red-tailed monkeys, Blue monkeys, Galagos, Mangabeys, Black and white colobus monkeys among others.
Chimpanzee habituation experience on the other hand takes full day. It starts early at 6am before chimpanzees get out of their nests, and ends in the evening at 7pm when they get back to their nests. This is full day with chimpanzees and you must come with packed lunch. Among other items to pack for chimpanzee tracking or habituation experience include Insect repellent, long sleeved shirts or blouse, long pants, garden gloves and drinking water.
A wide variety of accommodation options available for tourists to Kibale National park such as Primate lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Ndali lodge, Kibale safari lodge, Chimpanzee Guest House, Chimps Nest Lodge and many hotels around nearby Fort Portal Town.
Located in Queen Elizabeth National Park and inhabits many primate species. The most attraction is the Chimpanzees. The trek here is quiet strenuous compared to Kibale National Park and someone must be physically fit to participate in Chimpanzee tracking in Chambura gorge. Other primates here include Baboons, Red Tailed monkeys and Mangabeys among others.
Mgahinga National Park
Uganda’s smallest forest park, famous for inhabiting the rare golden monkeys and the endangered mountain gorillas. The park currently attracts visitors to Golden monkey tracking as well as gorilla trekking adventure. There is only one gorilla group named as “Nyakagezi”. However, this is group is not stable because, it some timed crosses international boarder to Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Among other tour activities include here include birding, Mount Gahinga hiking, the Batwa trail where you will learn and experience the history and ways of life the Batwa people (Pygmies). The major accommodation options are found in the nearby Kisoro town. Near the park we have Gahinga Gorilla Lodge.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Is a home to almost half of the World’s last remaining population of the mountain gorillas. The park is located in south western part of the country, and attracts many tourists from different part of the world. Apart from gorilla trekking, one can do the Batwa Experience where you will learn and experience the history and ways of life the Batwa people (Pygmies), birding and forest walk. Among accommodation options around Bwndi Impenetrable National Park include Mahogany springs lodge, Gorilla sanctuary, Buhoma Lodge, Bwindi safari lodge, Buhoma community rest camp, Bwindi View bandas, Bakiga Lodge, Gift of Nature, Gorilla Mist Camp, Chameleon hill lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla lodge, Wagtail Eco Camp, Nshongi gorilla resort, Rushaga camp and Nkuringo gorilla camp among others.
For one to participate in primates tracking, you need a permit that allows entry into the park for such activities. Gorilla trekking permits cost US$600 each must be booked in advance because their demand is very high throughout the year. Chimpanzee tracking permits for Kibale National Park cost US$150, while Chimpanzee habituation experience costs US$220. Chimps tracking in Kyambura gorge costs US$50 per person, while Budongo forest chimps tracking is done at US$90 per person. Lastly, golden monkeys in Mgahinga National Park cost US$50 per person.