Chimpanzee tracking might not be as popular as gorilla trekking, but it is just as exciting. If spending one hour with the chimpanzees after tracking them is exhilarating, imagine spending and entire day with them?!
There are about 4950 chimpanzees in Uganda and visitors to interested in chimpanzee tourism have a choice between a chimpanzee tracking experience or a chimpanzee habituation experience, although not everyone knows that they have two options. Kibale forest which offers both options has a population of 1500 chimpanzees. Years ago there was only a 20% chance of seeing chimpanzees in the wild, but with the habituation experience more and more chimpanzees have been trained to get used to human presence, and there is now a 90% chance of seeing chimpanzees in the wild.
Most people know about gorilla and chimpanzee tracking, but do not know that they could even spend more time with the chimpanzees in a habituation experience.
Where can one go for a chimpanzee habituation experience in Uganda?
In Uganda you can choose to go for a chimpanzee habituation experience in either Budongo forest or Kibale forest.
You will have an entire day to watch the chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
The chimpanzee habituation experience
A typical day for a chimpanzee habituation experience starts early. You need to be up early, take an early breakfast. You are advised to pack lunch.
You set off before dawn to meet your guide and then you chimpanzee adventure begins. Your guide will lead you to the chimpanzee nests for the nigh before.
The chimpanzees arise at the break dawn as you approach their nests. And your day of observing the chimpanzees begins. Chimpanzee habituation is aimed at getting the chimpanzees used to human presence and is a long process that can take up to two years before a group of chimpanzees can safely be considered habituated. As a visitor you are part of this experience for the day.
Your day will be interesting and memorable as you watch an episode in a whole season of habituation for the chimpanzee group you are visiting. You will get very nice camera shots of chimpanzees doing various things as the day goes on, identify the unique features and differences that set each one apart, and learn how to identify the different chimpanzees as individuals.
Much better than tracking, no?
It’s not only chimpanzees you will see on this habituation experience. You will see a host of other things. In Kibale forest for example; you will see elephants, buffaloes, bush pigs, various bird species-the forest has 350 different bird species, and about 12 other kinds of primates. The beauty and richness of the forest is seen in the exotic plants, trees, and butterflies. It is simply amazing. And you need to keep your eyes wide open so you do not miss anything.
You eventful day finally comes to a close when the chimpanzees climb into their new nests for the night and you head back to your lodge with good memories, and the satisfaction of a day well spent.