With a big population of chimps in Uganda and having many places to see them, the country by far offers the best opportunities to see and learn about chimps our closest relatives. You can see chimps within ten minutes of leaving the Entebbe International airport at a sanctuary, or you can travel towards the far ends of the country and embed with a community of chimps in the pristine jungles on a chimpanzee trekking tour. Whatever your trip itinerary to Uganda is and the kind of chimp experience you want, it is easy to include a visit to see chimps in Uganda.
There are also opportunities for kids to see chimps and I will start off with these.
Family friendly places to see chimps with kids in Uganda
Traveling with kids? Below are family friendly places where parents with children can visit to see and learn about chimpanzees.
Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary
Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary is probably the best place to see and learn about chimpanzees. This forested island on Lake Victoria measuring only 100 acres is home to more than 50 chimps. The island is a project to host chimps rescued from several situations in Uganda and across the world such as from poaching, circus, bush meat trade, etc… An electric fence separates the forest from a small area where viewing takes place from behind the fence. It is exciting watching the different individuals and learning about their history and their unique abilities, and learning about the chimps’ leadership hierarchies, classes, etc… in the community which you can observe it all playing out.
Uganda Wildlife Education Center (Zoo) – behind the scenes experience
The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (Zoo) is nearest place to see chimps in Uganda. In addition to many other animals and wildlife the zoo has 21 chimps that you can see from behind a fence. You can also join the more interactive “behind the scenes experience” where you join caretakers during their routine feeding of the chimps & other wildlife, cleaning their enclosures, etc.…
The adventurous chimpanzee trekking (15+ years)
If you want to embed with nature and trek the rainforest to see the chimps up close with no barrier in between below are the best places to go
Budongo forest, Murchison falls national park – best chimp & big game safari experience in one place
Budongo forest is the largest forest in east Africa. Part of the forest lies within the boundaries of Murchison Falls National Park the prime destination for wildlife safaris in Uganda. This part of the Budongo forest that lies in the Murchison has a large habituated community of chimps numbering over 100 chimps. This community is so far the only one available for chimp tracking in the forest, as another group is still undergoing habituation. The chimps may be difficult to see during some time in the year when they venture beyond their known home territory at Kaniyo Pabidi after depleting the food here. However when they are at Kaniyo Pabidi this community offers by far the best chimp tracking experience in the forest in Uganda, as the community is quite large offering great views of different individual chimps, and in addition the forest is beautiful to walk in having some of the most gigantic trees in the region. The little undergrowth enables great views and photography!
If you want a great wildlife safari experience in the savannah bush and a wonderful chimp experience all in one place then a safari trip to Murchison Falls National Park with chimpanzee tracking in Budongo forest is the best option.
Kibale forest national park
Kibale National Park is touted as the primate capital of East Africa, because of the up to 13 species of primates in this jungle that include the biggest population of chimps in Uganda with more than 1500 individuals. Due to many habituated chimps available for chimpanzee tracking activities, Kibale forest national park is the most popular destination for trips exclusive for chimpanzee tracking. It also offers 100% chances of seeing the chimps. However, this popularity also means big crowds of tourists.
Kalinzu forest reserve
Kalinzu Forest reserve is small patch of forest near Queen Elizabeth National Park, another prime safari destination in Uganda. It is not popular and often overlooked for chimpanzee trekking but with a high density of chimps, more than 250 chimps, offers great chances of seeing the chimps. If you will be visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park for a big game experience and want to see chimps as well without having to overnight away from the park, this is the best place to add to your itinerary. Kalinzu Forest is located less than an hour’s drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kyambura gorge forest
Kyamburo Gorge Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is a unique forest located in a valley and it is famously referred to as the underground forest. The forest is home to a small population of chimps, about 60, which can be difficult to find sometimes. The trek in the Kyambura Gorge is a great addition to your safari experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park, offering a wonderful nature experience with chances of seeing several wildlife including the chimps, elephants, giant forest hog, etc…