Tigers in Uganda at the Entebbe Zoo

BREAKING NEWS!! The lion is no longer the biggest cat in the Pearl of Africa – Uganda. The Tiger is!

Uganda has received a pair of tigers, a female/tigress and a male/tiger, that will call Uganda Wildlife Education Center (Entebbe Zoo) their home. The tigers were got from South Africa and were traded for 25 Ugandan monkeys.

tigers at the entebbe zoo in Uganda

The tigers are of the Bengal tiger species, and they are stunning with their brown color and white color coats. The brown is the female while the white is the male

Uganda Wildlife Education Center continues to shine after it was recently named the best zoo in central and east Africa, and now it is the only place to have tigers in East Africa. The zoo has over 350 species of wildlife, with over 20 cats which now include the two tigers. Some of the other big cats at the zoo include lions, hyenas, leopard, and cheetah.

The tigers were brought in at a perfect time after covid 19 pandemic lockdown which greatly affected the zoo’s finances because it was not receiving any visitors and thus no money to care for the animals. Hundreds of people are now streaming into the zoo on a daily to catch a glimpse of these stunning animals that have overtaken the lions as the biggest cats in the land.

a child enjoys watching tigers for the first time at the Entebbe zoo in Uganda

Unlike lions which can be found in the savannah parks in Uganda (Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley, and Queen Elizabeth) and Africa at large, the tigers are not native to the African continent and can be found only in zoos such as the Uganda Wildlife Education Center. Tigers are native to Asia.

The Uganda Wildlife Education Center or Entebbe Zoo is one of the top places to visit in Entebbe.

Visit the Entebbe Zoo and watch the tigers in their own fenced enclosure, plus see other wildlife in their enclosures as you walk through the zoo. There is NO special fee needed to the see the tigers. You just have to pay the entrance fee to the zoo, which is 10,000 (ten thousand) Uganda shillings for adults, and 5,000 (five thousand) Uganda shilling for kids.

Experiential chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park – Spend More time with the chimps with no crowds around.

Experiential chimpanzee tracking/trekking or premium tracking of chimpanzees is the new chimpanzee tourism product that has been introduced in Kibale National Park, the prime destination for chimpanzee tours in Uganda. Experiential chimpanzee tracking is a more exclusive tour which allows a small group of tourists to track a community of chimps (100+ chimps) alone and spend 1 – 2 hours with the chimps.

Chimps live in communities and Kibale National Park has 5 communities that have been habituated for tourism and research. A community of chimps can have more than 100 chimps, and the chimps in the community organize into different groups or families (lets say, like human communities). The most popular of the 5 habituated communities in Kibale National Park is called Kanyanchu and its the one used for the traditional chimpanzee tracking tours which allow the 1 hour of chimp watching and several groups of tourists set out to track the different groups/families in the kanyanchu community which can lead to crisscrossing of tourist groups and crowding spoiling the experience. The experiential or premium chimpanzee tracking is more exclusive as a small group of tourists will track another habituated community, the Ngogo chimps community which has been a research group & is 99% habituated. The small group of tourists will have the whole ngogo community alone uninterrupted and watch the chimps for 1 – 2 hours. The experiential chimpanzee tracking is a more intimate and enjoyable experience.

Cost of the experiential chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park

The exclusivity also comes with a higher cost as it will cost $400 per person. The ordinary chimpanzee tracking of the Kanyanchu chimps costs $200

Experiential chimpanzee tracking is NOT chimpanzee habituation experience

Experiential tracking should not be confused with the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience which also allows allows a group of tourists track another of the 5 chimp communities which however is still undergoing habituation. During the habituation tracking tourists set out early in the morning, as early as 5am, so that they can find the chimps before they wake up from their nests and follow them up for 4 hours. It can be intense because the chimps are still undergoing habituation

You can book our 3 day chimpanzee tour to Kibale National Park and request for the experiential option, or visit this page for more Uganda chimpanzee trips that be customized to included the experiential option

Uganda offers massive discount on gorilla and chimpanzee tracking permit prices for the covid time

Uganda has made cheaper the pricey gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking activities by introducing massive discounts on the two of Uganda’s most popular wildlife activities. The promotional gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking permit prices shall run for four months from December 2020 to JUNE 2021.

Uganda Gorilla trekking covid promotional prices are as follows:

Foreigners visiting Uganda -> gorilla trekking permit reduced from 700USD to 400USD

Foreign residents in Uganda & East Africa -> gorilla trekking permit reduced from 600USD to 300USD

Ugandans & other East African citizens -> gorilla trekking permit reduced from 250,000 Uganda shillings (70USD) to 150,000 Uganda shillings (41USD)

Uganda chimpanzee tracking covid promotional prices are as follows:

Foreigners visiting Uganda -> chimpanzee trekking permit reduced from 200USD to 150USD

Foreign residents in Uganda & East Africa -> chimpanzee tracking permit reduced from 150USD to 100USD

Ugandans & other East African citizens -> chimpanzee tracking permit reduced from 150,000 Uganda shillings (41USD) to 100,000 Uganda shillings (27USD)

With the tourism industry down due to the corona virus pandemic, the Uganda Wildlife Authority is aiming to make visiting and touring Uganda attractive with more affordable prices on flagship activities such as the gorilla trek. With several countries easing on covid 19 pandemic lock downs and allowing international travel, and recent confirmation of covid 19 vaccines which could be available before end of the year, this is perhaps the best time to visit Uganda and take advantage of cheap prices, absence of crowds and the nature being at its best as we come out of the wet season that leaves the environment lush and scenery spectacular. There has also been a 50% discount on access fees to several safari parks such as Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park to make a tour in Uganda very affordable.

Below is the official communication from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) regarding the promotional prices

 

Comparing the chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda and Uganda – which country offers the best chimp tour

When it comes to safari destinations in Africa, Uganda and Rwanda are popular for their primate adventures and most visitors include one or both of the two countries in their African trips just for the primates. The two most popular primate adventures that attract tourists to this part of Africa are the gorilla trekking and the chimpanzee tracking. The gorilla trek is obviously the number one primate adventure which you can do in Uganda and Rwanda as the prime destinations. In this article I compared the gorilla trekking in Uganda versus Rwanda when deciding on the country for the gorilla tour. The chimpanzee trek is often an afterthought from the gorillas, which shouldn’t be the case because the chimps who are our closest relatives offer a different experience, which you could find is way more exciting than the gorillas!

In this article I compare the chimpanzee trekking in Uganda and the chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda to guide you in making a choice if you are wondering where to go for the chimps tour in Africa.

Pros: Why you should do your chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda

  1. Relatively cheap permit: The chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda costs $90 which is cheaper than the $200 charged when trekking in Kibale National Park Uganda’s prime chimp tour destination.
  2. Guaranteed sightings of chimps: The park will ensure you trek one of the only two habituated chimpanzee groups in Nyungwe National Park that is confirmed to be more accessible that day hence guaranteeing your sightings.
  3. Great hiking adventure because of the mountain landscape: Nyungwe forest National Park where the chimp trek is done is a mountain forest which offers an amazing hike for the active travelers and hiking enthusiast.
  4. Amazing scenery in the mountain forest: Nyungwe forest which is located on the rolling highlands rewards with breathtaking views as a bonus on your chimp trek.
  5. Add the canopy walk experience which is a highlight of Nyungwe: The best canopy walk experience by far in the East African region, a tour in Nyungwe is not complete without the canopy walk adventure in Nyungwe that will spice your chimpanzee trekking adventure in Rwanda.
  6. You can stay at Lake Kivu one of the most beautiful lakes in Africa, while tracking the chimps: Also, a big bonus to trekking chimpanzee is fall back to nearby Lake Kivu to offer great relaxation and amazing scenery after trek.

Here is a short 2 day chimpanzee trip to Nyungwe National Park

Cons: some reasons you may decide not to do your chimp trek in Rwanda

  1. Limited chimpanzee tracking permits: Rwanda has only one park for the chimpanzee tracking (Nyungwe Forest National Park) and just two habituated groups in the park. Since only 8 people can track the chimps in a day, that means only 16 permits are available in one day. The limited permits can be a hinderance to your trip planning as it is easy to miss the permits which sell out quickly.
  2. Hard trek: The mountainous terrain of Nyungwe can be a challenge for the trek and especially given the chimps are also very active primates. Older and less fit people may find the chimp trek in Rwanda quite a challenge

Pros: Why you may prefer do to your chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

  1. Many options for the chimp trek: There many destinations in Uganda for the chimpanzee trek. Unlike Rwanda which has just one park, Uganda has several destinations where you can do the chimp trek in the different regions and some of them include Kibale forest, Budongo forest, Kalinzu forest, etc… This abundance of the chimpanzee destinations makes it easy for you to incorporate the adventure in your Uganda safari trip.
  2. Many chimpanzee permits: With many destinations and many habituated chimpanzee groups, there is a lot of availability of chimpanzee tracking permits in Uganda and therefore not so easy to miss out.
  3. Can get affordable chimp tracking: Price of chimpanzee trekking permit differs according to the destination and one can find a cheaper chimp trekking permit for as low as $40, a great thing for the backpackers and students who may not afford the $200 price of the chimpanzee tracking permit in Kibale National Park which is the country’s major chimpanzee tours destination.
  4. Easier trek: Terrain of many of the destinations is not mountainous hence offering an easier hike that is favorable even for the older citizens or less fit persons.

Cons: Why you may not prefer Uganda for your chimpanzee trekking

  1. Some destinations do not provide a 100% chance of seeing the chimps. However the prime destination Kibale National Park offer 100% chance of seeing the chimps.
  2. Trek is less exclusive with many tracking groups setting off into the forest and can cross paths as each tracks down their habituated chimp group.

Covid 19 guidelines and requirements for tourists visiting Rwanda

After several months of closing the borders and stopping all passenger flights by the Rwanda government because of the corona virus (covid 19) pandemic, Rwanda finally opened up to passenger flights and tourists into the country on 1st August 2020. All the parks and other tourism destinations in Rwanda have been reopened for tours but with standard operating procedures (SOPs) put in place for each destination and activity.

Below I guide on what is required of the tourists before flying into Rwanda and during their trips in Rwanda during this corona virus situation:

The visitor must have done a covid 19 test not later than 72 hours before the date of arrival in Rwanda and shall present a certificate to prove the test which should obviously be negative. Only PCR tests are advised.

On arrival in Rwanda the visitor shall be required to take another Covid 19 test and shall not travel anywhere outside or within Kigali in the next 24 hours during which time the visitor shall be waiting for the test results.

The covid 19 test is done at $60, a cost incurred by the visitor/tourist.

Important to note is that during this time of waiting for the results the visitor is confined at the hotel until the results are back within 24 hours.

Also, only selected hotels are allowed to host visitors for the covid test so ensure your hotel is one of those that were selected by government. The standard rate at all hotels for this one quarantine night/day is 90$ per person including all meals.

If the test comes back negative you will then proceed on your tour in Rwanda but will keep maintaining the SOP guidelines.

Important to note that to visit any primates park in Rwanda, such as if you will be doing the gorilla trek in Rwanda‘s Volcanoes National Park or the golden monkey trekking in the Volcanoes N.P, or the chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park, you will be required to present a negative covid 19 test result done in the last 48 hours. Hence, if you have the gorilla trek on your Rwanda tour itinerary it is advised to do it first after being released from Kigali when the covid 19 certificate is still valid for the gorilla tracking requirement. However if you have to visit other places, say Akagera National Park for a safari, some days before your gorilla trek you will then be required to take another covid 19 test 2 days before your trek, i.e. 48 hours before the trek.

After the end of your tour and departing from Rwanda, you shall be required to take another covid 19 test 72 hours before your flight. Hence you have to include a full day at the end of the tour to allow for the covid 19 test and results.