Chimpanzee habituation is the process of training wild chimpanzees to get used to having human beings around and preparing them to be tracked later on. Chimpanzee habituation experience in Uganda is carried out in two areas of Budongo forest in Murchison falls national park and mainly done in Kibale Forest National Park located in Kabarole district near Fort Portal and Kasese in western Uganda. Kibale national park has 13 primate species and is known as the chimpanzee destination with the highest number of chimpanzees in Uganda which goes to about 1500 chimpanzees and can be accessed by road which takes about six hours from Kampala City to the park and two hours from Kasese to the park. Chimpanzee habituation process is also done on gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park takes about two to three years to be completed. Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale national park is done by Uganda Wildlife Authority guides and researchers which begin early at 6:00 am. The visitors have an early breakfast at your lodge, get packed lunch, and meet your guide who will lead you to the chimpanzee nests for the previous night. Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale national park is a challenging and exciting activity in that the visitors walk through the park looking for the chimpanzees and can take a full day or half-day watching chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
Kibale national park has about 1500 chimpanzees with over 4950 chimpanzees recorded in Uganda others found in areas like Budongo forest, Kalinzu forest, Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park. Chimpanzee habituation is an educational and adventurous experience you wouldn’t want to miss when in Uganda because it’s a learning experience where you learn about the chimpanzee ways, behaviors, the chimpanzee habituation experience allows a maximum of four people per group and they get to spend more time of around four hours in the presence of the chimpanzees compared to one hour that is given for chimpanzee trekking.
Chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale National Park is based or carried out at Kanyachu information center which has around 45 chimpanzee groups. Visitors interested in chimpanzee trekking will set off before dawn to the forest because the chimpanzees arise at the break of dawn and here they will be able to see chimpanzees when breastfeeding, copulating, hunting, feeding, resting, patrolling, displaying when it’s time to build the new nests for the next night at around 7:00 pm since it’s an all-day activity. The visitors will also be able to get close to the chimpanzees than during the chimpanzee trekking which is done In a large group of around eight people per group. Visitors will also learn how to identify different chimpanzee individuals and other unique features that set each chimpanzee from another by their behaviors, markings, scars among others. During chimpanzee habituation experience you will see other primates like red monkeys, black and white monkeys, baboons, birds, butterflies, mammals like buffaloes, elephants, bush pigs among others which gives you a wonderful and memorable experience on a safari in Uganda.
Equipments for chimpanzee habituation
Visitors for chimpanzee habituation experience should carry the following equipment while going for the chimpanzee habituation process. Some of these essentials include packed lunch since it is a full day activity, 2 liters of drinking water, waterproof hiking boots, some snacks like dried fruits, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, a hat, rain jacket/ poncho, insect repellent for protection of ants and fries, binocular in case you want to view bird species, cameras for photos among others, however you are not supposed to eat food or smoke in front of the chimpanzees and in case you have an illness like a cold or flu you are advised to cancel because the chimpanzees can easily catch human diseases. You will be requested to use cameras without flash when taking pictures so as not to disturb the chimpanzees in their natural habitats.
Activities in Kibale National park
Apart from chimpanzee habituation experience, there are other interesting, adventurous and exciting activities Kibale national park has to offer to visitors on a safari including:
Chimpanzee trekking, this is one of the common activities done in Kibale national park and other destinations with chimpanzee groups including Kyambura gorge, Kalinzu forest, Budongo forest, and Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. Kibale National Park is best known for chimpanzees in East Africa and there is a morning chimpanzee trekking which starts at 8:00 am and afternoon tracking that starts at 2 pm with an average of three hours. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park involves walking through the forest in search of chimpanzees and when located you are given one hour in presence of the chimpanzees taking photos and learning more about the chimpanzees in their nature habitat which gives an interesting experience.
Bird watching, Kibale national park is a home of over 350 bird species and birding starts early at around 7:00am at Kanyachu information center located in the center of the park and you will be able to spot birds like papyrus gonolek, white winged warbler, great blue turaco, black and white hornbill, African pitta, crowned eagle, black-capped apalis, collared apalis, purple-breasted sunbird, dusky crimson wing among others.
Bigodi wetland sanctuary is located in Magombe swamp in the southern part of Kibale national park and is run by the community that is surrounding the park which organizes guided walks that take two to three hours walking through the beautiful grasslands with plants, trees, palms, and the communities. The wetland is a home of over 138 bird species, butterflies, eight primate species including red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, mammals like mongoose, bushbucks, warthogs among others. The wetland gives a great experience, beautiful scenic views, interactions with the communities and is responsible for supporting eco-tourism enterprises to ensure that the local community benefits from tourism.
Nocturnal forest walks, this is an activity that takes place at night after dinner at your lodge with a guided park ranger who carries spotlights for easy viewing of the night animals including bush babies, pottos, some birds among others. Nocturnal forest walks are an interesting activity because you get to see animals sleeping in their nests, and the forest is so quiet which makes it more fun and enjoyable.
Bushcraft children activities, Kibale national park is the only park in Uganda that offers safari packages for the children because children under the age of 15 years are not allowed to track chimpanzees and therefore the park has a number of activities like bushcraft classes, viewing wildlife, plants, monkeys, birds which are carried out by a trained and friendly driver who makes children comfortable while the parents are tracking chimpanzees.
Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru, these are the rocks located in the cave away from Nyakasura in Fort Portal-Kabarole district. They are natural features that resulted due to the formation of stalagmites and stalactites but the Batoro have a cultural attachment to them with the belief that they belonged to a young princess whose father the king had chosen a man to marry and were cut off when she refused to marry the man. Visitors first visit the waterfalls before moving to the cave and they learn more about the Batoro culture which also benefits the surrounding community and the tourism sector. There are other activities like forest walk trail, crater lakes tour with over the 50 crater lakes, cultural homestay visits where you will visit different communities and going to their farmlands, view the vanilla plantations, tea plantations, the Rwenzori Mountains among others.
Accommodation in Kibale national park
Visitors who come to Kibale National Park for chimpanzee habituation and other activities that the park has to offer have a variety of accommodations to choose from so as to make their stay complete and they include primate lodge which is the only lodge located inside the park and close to Kanyachu information center hence favors visitors on chimpanzee habituation experience and chimpanzee trekking safaris since the activities start very early in the morning. There is also Crater safari lodge located at the boundary of Kibale national park and a destination where chimpanzee trekking safaris are conducted, Kyanika lodge, chimps nest, Ndali lodge, chimpanzee forest guest house, Kyambura lodge, Isunga lodge among others. These lodges provide quality services like food, drinks, the internet, a conducive environment for relaxation after chimpanzee habituation activity with great scenic views among others.
Chimpanzee habituation permit
Chimpanzee habituation permit in Kibale national park costs $220 per person for foreigners, $ 150 per person for the foreign residents and $70 per person for east Africans and bookings have to be done three months prior to the actual day. Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale is done throughout the year and best done between March to April and November because the park is less congested and you will have the park for yourself.
Not only is Kibale national park the best place for chimpanzee habituation experience the park also has a unique biodiversity environment with great scenery including beautiful landscapes crater lakes, hills, swamps like Bigodi swamp sanctuary, rare bird species, mammals among others and therefore Kibale national park should be on the top of the list as the best national park to be visited for chimpanzee habituation experience while on your safari in Uganda.