What It's Like to Spend the Day On A Chimpanzee Habituation Trek in Uganda's Kibale Forest

Chimpanzee in Uganda's Kibale Forest
Tracking chimpanzees in Western Uganda's Kibale Forest on a day long habituation experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one of 12 reasons that I think Uganda is the most awesome place to go on safari in East Africa. Read on for details about our day-long hike in search of chimps, humanity's closest relatives.

The Rules

Going over the rules before tracking chimpanzees in Kibale National Forest in Uganda
We arrived at the visitor's center in Kibale Forest at dawn and were greeted by our Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Ranger, Benson. As we started our hike, we stopped at a thatched enclosure to go over the rules. The most important rule is that if you're sick, you can't go on the trek. Chimps and humans share so much DNA that it's possible to transmit diseases across species. 

I knew this rule in advance and took extra precautions to make sure I wouldn't catch a cold in the weeks leading up to the trip. I recommend lots of hand sanitizer and vitamin C. I even found a nose spray that is supposed to help prevent colds. I figured it couldn't hurt. I definitely did not want to miss the chimpanzee habituation trek on our trip to Uganda!

Into the Kibale National Forest

Foliage in Kibale National Forest in Uganda
Five of us embarked on the chimpanzee habituation trek that day: me and my husband, an older gentleman from the US, and a pair of British diplomats living in Kampala.

The forest is quite dense with all sorts of creatures living within so it's important to dress appropriately for your chimpanzee habituation experience. Wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy hiking shoes. Tuck your trouser legs into your socks to protect yourself from fire ants. Gaiters (coverings for your trousers) to protect your clothing from mud and tears are definitely helpful.  
Old growth tree that chimps like in Kibale National Forest in Uganda
We entered Uganda's Kibale Forest and were enveloped by deep green foliage. Benson pointed out the large old-growth trees that the chimps tend to favor.

We learned about how the chimpanzees rap on the trees to communicate and scratch themselves with the bark.
Our UWA Guide in Uganda's Kibale Forest

Chimpanzee Night Nests

Chimpanzee night nests discovered on our habituation experience in Uganda
After about an hour of walking along reasonably well-cleared trails, we emerged into a clearing and looked up. We had found the chimpanzee night nests and, uh, other evidence of their recent presence.
Chimpanzee dung
Now all we had to do was figure out where they had gone to feed.

Hurry Up and Wait: Chimps Feeding and Napping in the Treetops

Chimpanzee in a tree in Uganda's Kibale National Forest
The UWA guides track chimps in Kibale Forest nearly everyday and get to know the patterns that these fascinating primates follow and their favored locations. After another hour or so of searching for the chimps, we found two apes lounging high up in a tree.
Chimpanzee in a tree in Uganda's Kibale National Forest
Tracking chimpanzees in Uganda is definitely a hurry-up and wait exercise. We had to hurry to find the chimps but then we had to wait patiently for them to come down from the trees. The chimps follow a fairly predictable pattern: leave the night nest, find food, feed in the treetops, come down to ground level to move through the forest, go back up to the treetops, bed down for the night. In total, we waited about 2 hours in a forest clearing while the chimps took their time feeding and resting.
Chimpanzee in a tree in Uganda's Kibale National Forest

Lunch Visitors in Kibale National Forest

Butterfly on my backpack in Kibale National Forest in Uganda
Since the chimps were eating, our group thought it was the perfect time to have some lunch. When we pulled out the packed lunches provided by Kibale Forest Lodge, beautiful butterflies fluttered into view and perched on my backpack. I love amazing nature in its largest and smallest forms!

A Red-Tailed Monkey Diversion in Kibale Forest

Red-tailed monkey in Uganda's Kibale National Forest
Chimpanzees aren't the only primates living in Uganda's Kibale forest. While we were waiting for the resting chimps to come down from the trees, we entertained ourselves watching a red-tailed monkey jump from tree-to-tree.
Red-tailed monkey in Uganda's Kibale National Forest
Red-tailed monkey in Uganda's Kibale National Forest

Chimps Coming Down

Chimpanzee in Uganda's Kibale National Forest

Finally, our patience was rewarded! The chimps were coming down! At this point, there were the 5 people from our day-long habituation trek plus about a dozen others doing the hour-long chimp encounter. It was like the paparazzi had descended on the place with everyone jockeying for a good spot to get a photo.
The paparazzi on the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Uganda's Kibale National Forest
The chimpanzee that climbed down from the trees was a good sport and sat on a rock for a few minutes to be admired. Such an amazing creature!

Once they come down from the trees, the goal is to follow the chimps wherever they go. However, on the chimpanzee habituation trek, you can only move as fast as your slowest group member will allow. One of the people in our group had some mobility issues and had a hard time keeping up with the pace required to effectively track the chimps. You need to be in good physical shape and be able to walk fast over rough terrain to do chimpanzee tracking in Uganda's Kibale National Forest. If you go anyway despite physical limitations, you'll be holding the others in your group back.

Chimps Chilling in the Trees

Portrait of a chimp in Kibale National Forest in Western Uganda
Despite not being able to keep up with the chimpanzees who had come down from the trees, we were fortunate to find a few more chimps hanging out in a different set of trees not far away.
Chimp bearing its teeth in Kibale National Forest in Uganda
We stood below watching them while they looked back at us with curious eyes.
Chimp sitting in a tree in Uganda

Waiting in the Rain

Chimps in a tree in the rain in Uganda
We waited for the chimps to descend for about an hour and then a heavy rain started to pour down. The chimps looked equally unhappy to be wet! Once again, we have a lot in common with our closest relatives.

The Hike Out of Kibale Forest

Vines in Kibale National Forest in Uganda
The Kibale Forest chimpanzee habituation tracking day typically lasts until the chimps make their nests for the night or the group agrees that they've had enough. We waited until the last group of chimps came down from the trees, followed them a short distance and then unfortunately lost them again since our group wasn't able to keep pace. At about 5 pm, we hiked out of the muddy, rainy forest to meet our waiting Matoke Tours driver, Geoffrey to take us back to the lodge.
Kibale National Forest in Western Uganda

Our Chimp Habituation Day Distilled Down to 3 Minutes


A picture may tell 1000 words, but a video can be even more powerful. Check out my video highlights of our day tracking chimpanzees in Uganda's Kibale Forest to immerse yourself in the experience.

Overall, it was a great day out. We'd recommend tracking chimpanzees in Uganda if you are in good physical shape. It is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

What other once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters have you had in your travels? Leave a comment and tell us more. 

Useful Links for Planning Your Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Uganda's Kibale National Forest

Did you enjoy this post? Sharing is caring...

What It's Like to Spend the Day on a Chimpanzee Habituation Trek in Uganda's Kibale Forest

More Sidewalk Safari Travel Blog Posts About Our Trip to UgandaTracking Uganda's Nkuringo Family of Mountain Gorillas: Hiking the Path Less TraveledIn Search of Shoebill Storks in Mabamba Swamp: Uganda's Ultimate Birdwatching DestinationUganda's Bird Whisperer of Bigodi Wetlands SanctuaryA Boat Cruise on Uganda's Kazinga Channel: Hippos and Elephants and Crocodiles, Oh MyThings to Do In and Around Entebbe Airport in UgandaThe Birds of East Africa: Why Uganda is a Birdwatchers Paradise10 Packing List Essentials for a Safari in Uganda if You're a City PersonWhy Uganda is the Coolest Safari Destination in East Africa: So Much More Than Just The Big 5A Safari Tour to Uganda with Gorillas, Chimps, Birds, Hippos...and My Husband

COMMENTS

Name

#pigsonparade #tasteoftravel 1916 Rebellion a City Break Absolut Fringe Adelaide Adriatics Africa Agra Aix-en-Provence Alameda Alamo Square Alfama Algarve Alliance Francaise Americas Amnesty Amsterdam Andolu Kavagi Android Ann Arbor Antwerp Argentina Arizona Art Gallery Arthur's Day Asia Asia Pacific Athens Augsburg AUNZ AUNZ_Archive Auschwitz Austin Australia Austria Auto Awesome Avignon Baixa Baltics Bangkok Barcelona Barrio Alta Basel Basque Basque Country Bath Bazaar Belem Belfast Belgium Bellagio Bergamo Berlin Bern Bernal Heights Best of Beyond Dublin Bidart Big Island Bird Watching Blackrock Market bleisure Bloco de Dublin Blogger Fiesta BloggerFiesta Bologna Bonn Boston Brad Pitt Bray Brighton Bristol Bruges Brussels BTW Bucharest Budapest Buffalo California Camargue Cambridge Canada Canary Islands Cannes Cannonball Cannonball Run Canterbury Cape Town Carcassonne Cardiff Carnival Castro Catalonia Catalunya Cats Central Europe Central Richmond Chemistry Chinatown Christmas Christmas Market City Break Itinerary Civic Center Cobh Coffee cole valley Cologne Comedy Club Commute Chronicles Connemara Copenhagen Cork Costa Brava County Kerry Cow Hollow Critical Mass Croatia Culture Night Cyprus Czech Republic Dalkey Dalkey Castle Delft Delhi Den Haag Denmark Denver Derry Diamond Head Disneyland Dolores Heights Donegal Dover Downtown Dresden Dublin Dublin Castle Dublin Culture Night Dublin_Archive Dubrovnik Ducks Dun Laoghaire Dusseldorf Eastern Europe Edinburgh Eindhoven England Eruption Estonia Europe Europe_Archive Evora Fado Fall Foliage Faro Faversham Festival Film Film Festival Financial District Finland Fisherman's Wharf Flanders Florida Flugtag Food France Frankfurt French Riviera Fringe Fringe Festival Galway Gandhi Gdansk Gdynia Georgian Dublin Germany GhostBus Gig Girona Glasgow Glen Park Golden Gate Park Google Plus Granada Grand Canal Greece Greece and Cyprus Guest Posts Guiness Storehouse Guinness Gurgaon Half Moon Bay Halloween Hamburg Hawaii Hayes Valley Helsinki Hermanus Hilo Hobart Holland Honolulu Hula Hungary Hurling Hyderabad Ice Cream Sandwich ICS India Inner Richmond Inner Sunset Ireland Ireland_Archive Istanbul Italy Itinerary Izmir Jackson Square Jaipur Japan Japantown Johannesburg Kaunas Kenmare Kilauea Kilkenny Kilkenny Cats Killarney Kiluaea Kona Krakow Kuala Lumpur Kyoto Lake Como Lake Street Languedoc Lanzarote Las Fallas Las Vegas Latvia Laurel Heights Leeds Leinster Leipzig Lemesos Let's French 2011 Liechtenstein Limerick Lincoln's Inn Lisbon Lithuania Liverpool Lloret de Mar London Los Angeles Louisiana Lower Pacific Heights Lübeck Lucerne Lyon Mackintosh Madrid Mainz Malaga Malaysia Mallorca Malta Manchester Marina Marrakech Marrakesh Marseille Massachusetts Mdina Med Melbourne Menton Milan Mission Bay Mission Dolores Modena Monaco Monte Carlo Montenegro Monterey Montpellier Morocco Munich Munster Music NA_Archive Naples Netherlands New Orleans New Year 2011 New Year Festival New Years Eve 2010 New York New Zealand Nice Nicosia Nob Hill Noe Valley NOPA Normandy Norrkoping North America North Beach Northern Ireland Nuremberg Oahu Oakland Oktoberfest Oliwa Olympics On The Road Osaka Outer Richmond Outer Sunset Oxford Pacific Heights Padua Palafrugell Palma Panorama Paphos Paris Parma Pearl Harbor Pennsylvania Perth Philadelphia Pittsburgh Poland Porto Portugal Potrero Hill Prague Presidio Presidio Heights Pride Provence Queensland Rabat RAF2010 Rainbow Ranelagh Ranelagh Arts Festival Recent Red Bull Regensburg Reims Restaurant Review Riga Ring of Kerry Rochester Roman Ruins Romania Rome Rotterdam Rugby Russia Russian Hill Salt Lake City Samba San Diego San Francisco San Sebastian Sand Castles Santa Cruz Scandinavia Science Gallery Science Museum Scotland Seattle Segovia Seville SF - Further Afield SF_Archive Shakespeare Shave Ice Sicily Silent Film Festival Singapore Sintra Sligo Snow SOMA Sonoma Sopot South Africa South America South Beach South San Francisco Soweto Spain SPWC St. Petersburg Stellenbosch Stirling Stockholm Strasbourg Street Performance Stuttgart Sultanahmet Sweden Switzerland Sydney Tallinn Tasmania Tavira TBEX Telegraph Hill Temple Bar Tenderloin TenderNob Tenerife Texas Thailand Thames Festival The Haight The Kruger The Mission Theatre ThisIsAthens Tipperary Tokyo Toledo Toronto Toulouse Trad Trad Sessions Transylvania Trinity College Turkey UBTD10 Uganda UK Ulster Bank Theater Festival Union Square United States Uruguay Utrecht Vacation Rental Valencia Valletta Venice Vienna Vilnius Volcano Volcanoes National Park Waikiki Wales Walking Walking Tour Warsaw Washington Waterford Western Addition Western Australia Westerplatte Westfield Where's Wally? Whiskey Whitsundays Wicklow Wine Tasting Wisconsin World Record World War II Wroclaw WWI WWII York Ypsilanti Zurich
false
ltr
item
Sidewalk Safari: What It's Like to Spend the Day On A Chimpanzee Habituation Trek in Uganda's Kibale Forest
What It's Like to Spend the Day On A Chimpanzee Habituation Trek in Uganda's Kibale Forest
Experience a day long chimpanzee habituation trek in Uganda's Kibale Forest. A photo-rich post by travel blogger, Jennifer (aka Dr. J) from Sidewalk Safari.
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4y7XSQXYomI/WF-JPwmEiLI/AAAAAAABGqk/eCuLbWCfwyk0hxS8hEcVZnJ066K3ThueQCPcB/s640/IMG_1395.JPG
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4y7XSQXYomI/WF-JPwmEiLI/AAAAAAABGqk/eCuLbWCfwyk0hxS8hEcVZnJ066K3ThueQCPcB/s72-c/IMG_1395.JPG
Sidewalk Safari
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/2017/01/uganda-kibale-chimp-habituation.html
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/2017/01/uganda-kibale-chimp-habituation.html
true
2802498442123035908
UTF-8
Not found any posts VIEW ALL Read more Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS CONTENT IS PREMIUM Please share to unlock Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy