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 thoughts on “Trekking to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park”

  1. 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

  2. Great post, thank you! The pictures look amazing. It’s great you got to see them in a wild and not in a sanctuary or even worse in a zoo. Lovely pictures! That must have been such a great experience. Glad you had an experienced guide with you who told you exactly what to do.

    1. 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.

  3. Ahh Must have been an amazing experience. We went on a 5 day trek in Sumatra to see the Orangutans and that was incredible. I bet seeing them up close in their natural habitat was pretty cool.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

    1. 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.

  7. 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?

    1. 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.

  8. I was just last month looking at a trek in western Tanzania to see the chimps – Wust an incredible experience this must have been

  9. I normally am not a fan of animal tourism, but this seems like a legit, safe and non intrusive way to explore, admire and appreciate wildlife in it’s natural habitat! How wonderful it would be to see chimps up close and personal but not caged up or used for tourism bait!

    1. 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.

  10. I do hope animals in cages become obsolete someday soon, it looked awful stuck in that tiny space. Thank goodness for your guide too, I’ve read a bunch of chimpanzee attacks and they are brutal!

  11. I’m not very good with monkeys — more so when they’re up close haha! But I think this is an experience that I wouldn’t mind. 😀 It’s awesome by the way that you got to explore Africa. I hope to be there sometime soon!

  12. I agree, no wild animal should be locked up! Scary experience though, with a chimp charging at you! Glad you got away safe!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

  15. 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!

    1. 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.

  16. That was a funny story about the peeing chimp! I think they are fascinating creatures- because of how intelligent and human-like they are in their interactions and behavior.

  17. Seeing wildlife in their natural habitats is one of the main reasons I love to travel! I would love to see chimps in the wild. A reminder though, that we are in their territory and with that comes the risk of being unwelcomed, but also the reward of seeing genuine behaviors. Definitely an experience to bookmark.

    1. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. 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.

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