Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

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Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

My safari in Africa had two big hiking adventures that I learned about off of This Website.  The first was a trek into the rainforest in Kibale National Park, Uganda to track a group of chimpanzee.  I was excited about trekking to the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. I have always loved watching chimps in zoos interact with each other.  The creatures are very social and the interactions are so human-like.  My favorite zoo memory is from the Atlanta Zoo.  A younger male chimp was on the climbing structure.  He peed off the side of the structure and onto an older male below.  The look of hatred was understood by human and chimp alike.  I wish I had a video of it.

Kibale isn’t my first experience with a chimp in Africa.  While living in Equatorial Guinea, I meet a young chimp.  The chimp had been taken from its family group in the cloud forests of mainland Equatorial Guinea.  It was captured as a baby and used as a pet.  It was heart-wrenching to see this majestic animal living in a small concrete cage with no other chimps to interact with.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

I had an afternoon trek so I spent the morning taking a walking village tour near the guest house. After lunch, my safari group drove up to Kibale National Park Visitor Center.  We spent about 20 mins at the center learning about the animals of Kibale.  My group was divided into four smaller groups as we headed into the forest to hike out to the chimpanzee.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

We were hoping to catch up with a one of the two habituated groups of chimpanzees in the park.  The group we were hiking to had about 100 individuals.  We started into the forest. The four groups split up heading towards the last known location of the chimps. Our guide got word that the group had been located and they were on the move.  Our guide led us off the trail and further into the forest.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

After about 30 minutes of bushwacking, we slowed down and had our first wild chimpanzee sighting.  It was a middle age male.  The male was known for knocking humans over and waiting until they got up to laugh at them again.  I had knelt down on one knee to take a few photographs.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

I took a couple of photos when my guide pulled me up and started backing my group off.  The male suddenly shifted moods and charger at us.  He snapped a 2-inch tree like it was a small twig. I could feel the ground shake from where he pounded on it.  He ran off without hurting anyone.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

We headed off to see a few other chimpanzees from this group.  I exchanged a  look with one of the other girls from the group.  I was hoping the next chimp would be more tourist friendly.  We found two more chimps eating on a log.  We spent the rest of the time observing these two animals.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

These two males were more tourist friendly and showed off for a few pictures. After an hour, we headed out of the forest.  We saw a couple more chimps in the trees as we left the forest. They were too far away to photograph but it was an amazing sighting.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

I left the forest with a new appreciated of chimps and their behavior.  I can’t help but hate the fact there is nothing I can do for the chimp I saw in Equatorial Guinea.  Chimps deserve to be with their family group and in the wild.

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

Would you like to hike to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park?  What would you do about the chimp in Equatorial Guinea?

Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

 

35 Replies to “Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park”

  1. Nisha

    Monkeys (in any form or name) scare me off.
    Recently was in a temple and there were so many monkeys of every size that I couldn’t muster courage to come out of the temple! LOL
    Nisha’s current road . . . Indonesia in PicturesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      The guides are very protective of their chimps. They do a great job at letting us experience the chimps but at the same time protect the animals.

      Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I would love to go see the Orangutans in Sumatra. That sounds so amazing. I am hoping to do that at some point in the near future.

      Reply
  2. AcrossCities

    Would never have the courage to go on a trip like this. Someone told me no matter how much you train them (more so if you don’t) or even if there’s a guide, animals will be animals. But I agree that they should really be left free in their habitat.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I agree and it is a risk but it is worth the risk in my book. It was amazing to see them up close and without any barriers.

      Reply
  3. Jen Joslin

    This sounds like such an interesting experience. Very sad how many of these beautiful animals are locked up in cages. I’ve never seen chimps in the wild, but agree with you that they deserve to be treated with respect, especially when humans are entering their home. Glad your guide was on the ball when the male charged!
    Jen Joslin’s current road . . . 13 Interesting Markets in AsiaMy Profile

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  4. Jenna

    I love chimpanzees!! They are so adorable–glad you got to visit some that weren’t in cages. Always sad to see animals locked up like that. That’s a bit scary the way the one charged at you, but it would be amazing to see them up close in their natural habitat! You got some great photos–what a fun experience!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I know zoos have their place but I can’t stand them after watching animals in natural habits. The hike was amazing and I can’t wait to go back.

      Reply
  5. katja

    Seeing these chimpanzees in their natural habitat would be an amazing experience, although I’m glad to hear that no-one got knocked over by that first chimp! How long did you spend in the park? And did you spot any other animals while you were there?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      We spend a couple hours in the park. Most of that was hiking to the chimps. Once can only spend an hour with the chimps a day. We saw damage from some elephants but didn’t see them. The only other animals were some birds but that was it.

      Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      There is a balance that needs to be found between tourism and protection. Uganda and most of Africa need the tourism dollars. A lot of people see the animals as a waste of space and don’t need to be protected. If tourist come to see them and then spend money, the animals become a resource that needs to be protected. I like the balance Uganda has struck. Tourist come, get to spend an hour with the chimps and pay for it. Suddenly that chimp troop is bringing in a couple hundred bucks a day in a region where a day labor makes less than 10.

      Reply
  6. Debra Schroeder

    Wow, what a scary experience. Glad you had an observant guide who keep your group safe.

    I’m not sure what could have been done about the chimp in EQG. Sad situation for sure though.

    Reply
  7. Tess Andrade

    oh dear I think I would have been quite scared when seeing a chimpanzee charging at us – they are small but if they feel threatened and feel we encroach on their territory, it can be a frightening experience. I’m glad the other chimpanzees were more willing to have photos taken of them.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      Chimps aren’t as small as you might think. An adult male chimp can weigh up to 150 pounds and be 4ft tall. They are twice as strong as a human.

      Reply
  8. Meg Jerrard

    So heart breaking to hear about the chimp in Equatorial Guinea – I agree with you – they deserve to be respected and allowed their freedom to live with their families in heir natural habitats. No creature deserves to be locked up like that in a cage as a pet.

    I would love to get to Uganda to spend time trekking with the chimpanzees. Ive only made it to Kenya and Tanzania so far, and those safaris were spectacular, so Uganda is next!
    Meg Jerrard’s current road . . . When a Journey of a Lifetime Becomes a Lifelong Journey: 8 Years Overland With Christopher ManyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I hated having to walk away from that chimp in EQG. But the political situation prevents any action. The local primate research knows of the chimp and tries to get someone to check in on him and see how he is doing. His hands are tied otherwise.

      You should add Rwanda to the list as well. The Gorillas are amazing as well.

      Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I hold no ill will of the charge. I was in his territory and he was well within his rights. I think people forget that when they visit with animals sometimes.

      Reply
  9. Karla | karlaroundtheworld

    I would definitely hike for this, although perhaps always safer to be in a group with a guide since as you mentioned the chimps aren’t tourist friendly. In a way, that is good too cause at least we know that they still are in their “natural habitat” or something like that. I agree with you though, they should be with their family in the wild.
    Karla | karlaroundtheworld’s current road . . . Paguriran Island and Lagoon – The Extraordinary out of the OrdinaryMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      One can’t visit the chimps without a park guide. It is illegal to hike in the forest without a guide not to mention dangerous since there are chimps, elephants, buffalo, and many other wild animals that can harm humans.

      Reply

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