Chimpanzee climbing up a high tree in the green forest

Chimpanzee Trekking

Spoiler alert: there is more to Uganda than ‘just’ gorillas. The chimpanzees are definitely the ones who run the show.

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We say Uganda, you hear gorillas. Right? We get it! But spoiler alert: there is more to the country than ‘just’ gorillas. Did you know, for example, that Uganda is home to more than 20 different kinds of primates? And next to the gorillas, the chimpanzees are definitely the ones who run the show. So if you want to channel your inner Jane Goodall, join us on a chimpanzee trekking tour in Uganda and prepare to get wowed!

Chimps are more common than the famous mountain gorillas, as they can be found in many African countries – Uganda alone counts over 5,000 individuals. In comparison: mountain gorillas can only be seen in one other country (Rwanda) and their numbers were as low as 280 some years ago. Today there are around 1,000 individuals (yay!). And even if chimps can be found in several places, there are some better places for tracking them than others. 

Where can we meet the chimpanzees in Uganda?

Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is the place to be when it comes to chimp trekking since it hosts the largest population of our close relatives with 1,500 individuals. You can join two separate tours: a regular one where you visit chimps that are used to visitors and where you can spend a maximum of one hour with them. Or the habituation tour, which takes a full day and follows a group of chimps that are not used to humans (yet).

Murchison Falls National Park

The biggest and oldest national park in Uganda, the Murchison Fall National Park, is home to fairly large groups of chimps (600 in total) and a trekking tour here is similar to the one in Kibale. Even though the chances of seeing them here are a little smaller, you will not go home disappointed since the park is a highlight in itself.

Chimpanzee lying on its back in the green grass with crossed legs


Queen Elizabeth National Park

In Uganda’s most visited park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, you can also find a small group of chimps – in the beautiful ‘Valley of the Apes’ named Kyambura Gorge, to be precise. Trekking here is an amazing experience, but chances are you won’t see the sixteen chimps living here. Why? They’re like little Houdinis and true masters of playing hide and seek.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Okay, granted: this is not really chimp trekking. However, this sanctuary is so special that it has deserved to be featured here. Why? Because it can be found on a little island in the middle of the famous Lake Victoria. Rescued chimps who could not survive in the wild get a second chance here – and you can witness how they thrive in this paradise.

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Why should you go watch the chimpanzees in Uganda?

Watching these intelligent primates in their natural environment is a one-of-a-lifetime experience. Here’s why (and why you should go!):

1. They live in the middle of the tropical rainforest

When going chimp trekking, you follow an armed ranger into the dense jungle. There are various paths, but only your guide knows where to go. With chimps not staying in one place and even the guides having to search for them, you can see why this is a true adventure. It takes at least an hour to track the chimpanzees and once you’ve discovered them, you’ll be able to spend a whole hour with them.

2. They are active and move a lot (in trees)

Unlike gorillas (who mainly sit, eat, and sleep) chimpanzees are out and about. Perched high up in the trees they are hard to spot, but once you have found them, you’ll feel like in a movie. They even tend to come down once they spot you. First one, then more, and soon you’re surrounded by a whole bunch. Since they don’t stay in the same place for long, however, you’ll quickly find yourself following them through the jungle, pushing branches aside and scrambling to keep up – just like modern-day Tarzans and Janes!

3. They are smart

Chimps are said to be the smartest primates, which makes observing them fascinating. They use tools, for example – a trade that is commonly known for humans only – to crack open nuts or lure termites out of a hole. And when grooming, they scratch parts of their own body to indicate where exactly they want to be groomed. Tearing up leaves or shaking a couple of small trees is usually an invitation for flirting, while nudging another with the back of the hand is a request to move over.

Besides body language, they use sounds. Loud hoots are for long-distance communications, and soft noises are for conversations with fellow chimps closer by. They might grunt to ask permission to join a group or hoot together to let others know where they are and with whom. In general, they use a multitude of hoots, grunts, barks, and screams, in different combinations and situations. Fancy to learn a new language? Go chimpanzee trekking and learn theirs.

4. They are unpredictable

Chimps are more intelligent and more active than gorillas, which makes them slightly more unpredictable. Basically, you never know what might happen when you meet them. And isn’t that just the perfect recipe for adventure? We think so!

Kyambura chimp

Facts on Chimp Trekking

Where to find them: Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Ngamba Island

How many: Kibale 1,500, Queen Elizabeth 16, Murchinson Falls 600

How long is a tour: approximately three hours

Rules to follow: wear a mask, don’t mimic sounds, keep your distance

Costs: Please contact us for the exact costs of your meet-and-greet.


Youre hooked, want to grab your backpack and tie up your hiking shoes now? Then get in touch and soon you’ll be trekking to the chimpanzees of Uganda.

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