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Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest is one of the memorable safari activities in Murchison Falls National Park. Chimp trekking is done while following the existing trails in the forest.

Budongo Forest is an extension of Murchison Falls National Park. This forest is among East Africa’s largest rain forests covering an area of 825km2.

The forest has the highest number of Mahogany and iron trees in Uganda and the whole of East Africa. Budongo is just 30 minutes away from Kichumbanyobo gate and it is part of Murchison Falls Conservation Areas.

Budongo Forest Reserve has over 600 chimpanzees making over 4 chimp communities. The Budongo Conservation Field Station is monitoring and studying the Chimpanzees in the forest. It manages 3 chimp communities within the forest.

On your Uganda tour in Murchison Falls Park, expect to do Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest at Kaniyo Pabidi an eco-tourism site in the forest.

Kaniyo Pabidi supports 1 Chimpanzee community estimated to number around 100 individuals. The Chimpanzee Community is centered closest to Budongo Eco-lodge and has been habituated for tracking since the late 1990s.

This makes the forest a good place for chimpanzee trekking while on your Chimpanzee safaris in Uganda.

The Jane Goodall Institute was habituating the Kaniyo Pabidi Chimpanzee community but it is now managed by Budongo Eco-Lodge. The lodge took over the responsibility in August 2009 under the management of Uganda Lodges.

Budongo Eco-Lodge is in conjuction with the National Forest Authority to ensure the safety of the chimpanzees and the development of the tourism site.

How Is Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest Done?

You can do the remarkable Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest twice a day when on your chimpanzee safaris in Uganda. Also, you can combine the experience option with your Murchison falls safari creating excitement for longing days.

Chimp trekking starts with a briefing at the headquarters of the Kaniyo Pabidi tourism eco-site at 8 am. This usually takes 30 minutes. Briefing breaks the air of the dos and don’ts when trekking the Chimpanzees in the forest.

How Chimpanzee Trekking Briefing Is Conducted At Kaniyo Pabidi In Murchison Falls National Park

A senior ranger guide leads the Chimpanzee trekking briefing at Kaniyo Pabid. First, he tells you about a quick history of the Forest and the chimpanzees you are going to track. Second, he reads out the rules to follow during the activity.

Some of these rules are, not chasing away the chimpanzees, not littering in the forest, and always being near the ranger at all times.

He goes on to mention other wildlife you will find in the forest during your trekking.

Not only that, he continues to explain why they hold firearms during the activity.

The firearms are for protection in case you when encountering dangerous animals in the forest. This is when he is supposed to shoot and scare away the animals if in contact.

Tourists are entitled to ask any questions during this briefing. However, more questions can be asked during the activity as rangers are interactive.

When the briefing is complete, the senior ranger allocates different rangers to embark on the activity with a given group.

Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest Time At Kaniyo Pabidi

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest at Kaniyo Pabidi is done twice per day though at different time intervals.

That is in the morning (8 am) and afternoon (2 pm). It is done during this time because the apes are more active during these times of the day.

In the morning, you can see Chimpanzees leaving their nests from up in the trees. They move down and start gathering ripe fruits, flowers, and leaves for food.

Usually nursing female Chimpanzees stay with babies as the males and other chimpanzees gather the food.

For afternoons, you get to see Chimpanzees howling and screeching from the ground and playing with each other. When it comes to evening, Chimpanzees start bending tree branches to make new nests for the night.

1 group consisting of 8 people is allowed to track per session.  A ranger leads the group. He holds a gun and a walk talky for communication with fellow rangers.

Clients can always interact with the ranger to get to know about the chimpanzees and other wildlife in the forest.

Set off for the activity following the different walking trails in the forest. Most groups locate Chimps within an hour of setting off, though the activity can be between 3-4 hours.

This depends on where the Chimpanzees nested the previous day as they tend to move deeper in the forest in some seasons. It takes longer to track and locate the primates during those seasons.

Other Uganda Primates Are Sighted During This Tremendous Activity Such As

  • Blue Monkeys
  • Olive Baboons
  • Vervet Monkeys
  • Red-tailed Monkeys
  • Black and White Colobus Monkeys
  • Nocturnal primates like Pottos and Galagos

Many Uganda Bird Species Are Seen As Well During Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest Like;

·         African Dwarf Kingfisher

·         Crowned Eagle

·        Black-Eared Ground Thrush

·        Blue-Breasted Kingfisher

·        Cassin’s Hawk Eagle

·        Crested Guinea Fowl

·        Chestnut-Capped Flycatcher

·        Plain Greenbul

·        Puvel’s Illadopsis

·        Sabine’s Spine Tail

·        White-Spotted Fluff Tail

·        White-Thighed Hornbill

·        Yellow-Crested Woodpecker

·         Yellow-Footed Flycatcher


Forest-Related Uganda Animals Can Be Spotted During Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest Include;

  • Forest Elephants
  • Forest Buffaloes
  • Forest Giant squirrels
  • Uganda Kob
  • Bush Bucks
  • Bush Duikers

How Long Do You Be With The Chimpanzees During Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest

When the chimpanzees are located, you are permitted to be with them for 1 full hour. The 60 minutes with the chimpanzees are memorable as you get to see them grooming each other and gathering fruits for food.

The one hour gives the best opportunities for photography as you are near and up close to the Chimpanzees.

You enjoy seeing these apes jumping on tree branches, nursing their young ones, and howling in their natural habitat.

How Are Chimpanzees Tracked In Budongo Forest In Murchison Falls National Park?

Generally, rangers do the tracking as the tourists trek following the rangers. Chimpanzee tracking involves following the apes’ tracks that were left behind.

Tracks can be foot tracks, dung, housing nests, or leftover fruits.

Before clients do the Chimpanzee trekking, usually, rangers have already tracked down the chimpanzees and know their current location.

Foot Tracks or Thumb Prints: Chimpanzees are 4 limbed apes and mostly use all their limbs for locomotion.

As the chimpanzees are moving, they live prints on the ground which rangers use for tracking them.

Housing Nests: Chimpanzees bend tree branches to form nests for sleeping. However, one needs to be keen and skilled to identify the nests of the apes.

Rangers sight the nests and tell the presence of the Chimpanzees in the trees.

Chimpanzee Dung: When rangers are tracking the Chimpanzees, they look at the dung to determine how recently the apes have been in the area.

If the dung is dry, then the chimpanzees are a bit far though when it is wet then they are near.

Leftover Fruits And Leaves: Chimpanzees are clever creatures in that they eat and chew though they discard the unwanted parts of a fruit.

When rangers are tracking, they use the leftover fruits to find clues about where the apes are. On the fruits, teeth formation remains drawn on them at most times.

What Are The Levels Of Fitness Required For Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest?

There is no need to worry about your fitness levels when going to trek chimpanzees during your chimpanzee safari in Uganda.

The walking trails and terrains in Budongo Forest are flat making it easy for everyone to trek.

The levels of fitness may be caused by age but all it takes is moderate fitness. If it all fails, porters are always available for your support.

They will lift your bags making you lighter and more energetic for the trek.

You can always use walking sticks for extra stamina and balance for a great trekking experience.

Trekking Chimpanzees is not only for those with good physical appearance. It is for the crippled as well as they can be carried on sedan chairs to meet their dream. However, this comes at a small charge from the porters lifting you.

Chimpanzee Trekking Permit At Kaniyo Pabidi

A Chimpanzee trekking permit is a legal document given to an individual permitting them to participate in the activity. The permit document has a permit number or ID no, your full name, and a tracking date.

This permit is inclusive of rangers and field assistants who will guide you and protect you throughout the entire activity. The Chimpanzee trekking Uganda permit at Budongo Forest excludes entrance fees unlike that of Kibale National Park.

Please Note. You can only use a Chimpanzee trekking Uganda permit once on its allocated date. However, it can be rescheduled to a new date though this should be done a few weeks before the tracking date.

Where To Buy A Chimp Trekking Permit In Murchison Falls National Park?

Chimp Trekking permits in Murchison Falls National Park are only purchased at Budongo Eco-Lodge.

16 permits are issued by Budongo Eco-Lodge daily.

Permits are only sold to those above the age of 15 years as this is a strict and precautionary measure. In some cases, officials at the site have to check each tracker’s passport details for clarity.

However, minors below 15 years of age can be permitted to track chimpanzees only if their parents agree to sign a consent form allowing them to do the activity.

How Much Is A Chimpanzee Permit In Budongo Forest?

A Chimpanzee trekking Uganda permit at Kaniyo Pabidi is $120 and habituation is $ 230 per person. These rates are only applicable to non-foreign residents.

Purchasing A Chimpanzee Trekking Permit

A chimpanzee trekking permit at Budongo Eco-Lodge can be purchased at any time of the year. However, it is better to buy the permit at least 3 months earlier to your Uganda Chimpanzee safari when there is still availability.

Permits are in higher demand, especially in the peak season, most of the dates can be sold out. That’s why one needs to book on time to avoid that hustle.

Can One Buy A Last-Minute Permit?

Yes, a tourist can get a last-minute permit though it is not rare and advisable. This is possible when you are in contact with local tour operators as they sometimes have permits on standby.

Tourists are free to buy permits directly from the lodge. Though it is advisable to always use a local tour operator to avoid the hustle. This is so, because of any changes, the local tour operator is always available and can correct them straight away.

Best Time Of The Year-Best Season Of The Year To Do Chimpanzee Safaris In Budongo Forest In Murchison Falls National Park

Chimpanzee Trekking Uganda in Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls Park is done all year round in the park. However, the most suitable and enjoyable time is in the dry months or the peak season.

The dry months of Uganda are from December to February and from June to August.

In the dry months, Chimpanzee trekking trails are dry and accessible as little or no rainfall is received in the forest. This makes it easier to track and see the chimps and other wildlife like birds and animals.

However, Chimpanzees may tend to move deeper into the forest in search of food resulting in longer treks.

Advantage Of Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest In Murchison Falls Park In The Wet Months In

The wet months in Uganda are from March to April and from September to November.

In the wet months, there is abundant fruit and flowers in the forest so the Chimpanzees do not move as such. This cuts on the long distances to cover when trekking the chimps as they are near.

Also, lodging is not as expensive as it is in the dry months or peak seasons.

What To Wear When Going For Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest In Murchison Falls National Park

During your Chimpanzee safari in Uganda Murchison Falls National Park, it is important to prepare well enough for the activity.

For a successful trek, one needs to be physically fit and should wear decent.

Below is what you can wear when going for Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest.

  1. Light Hiking Boots
  2. Long-sleeved light trousers and shirts
  3. Garden Gloves
  4. Sunglasses and a hat


  1. Light Hiking boots

Light hiking boots should not be heavy since you are hiking into the forest following the trails in the forest. The boots protect your ankles and feet from sharp piercing sticks or dangerous insects.

They as well keep your feet dry especially during wet days when the trails are muddy and slippery.

  1. Long-sleeved light trousers and shirts

The long-sleeved trousers and shirts should not be of bright colors as they might call for attention from Chimpanzees.

This attire protects you from insects in the forest and tree branches that may cause harm to your skin. They can as well keep you warm during cold hours.

  1. Garden Gloves

Garden Gloves protect you from touching itching and thorny plants. Gloves as well protect you from direct contact with dirt and germs since the trekking takes place in a forest.

  1. Sunglasses and hat

Sunglasses and a hat are to protect you from direct sunlight during hot days. African weather tends to be so hot, especially in the dry seasons of the year. Always be vigilant to carry a hat and sunglasses for your eyes.

What To Carry When Going For Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest In Murchison Falls National Park

If you are to enjoy Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest, there are essential items that you should consider.

Below we discuss a few key things to carry when embarking on the activity.

  1. A good camera with extra batteries
  2. Poncho/ Rain Jacket
  3. Insect Repellent
  4. Bottled Water
  5. Backpack
  6. Walking sticks


  1. A good camera and extra batteries

Always carry a camera for photography and videography of the chimps when you get 1 hour with them.

Carry extra batteries and memory cards because they will all be filled up with beautiful photos of chimpanzees. Keep your camera flash off when taking pictures.

  1. Poncho/ Rain Jacket

Chimpanzee Trekking takes place in Budongo Forest which is a tropical rainforest. Therefore, the weather there is unpredictable, so you are always advised to carry a Poncho or rain jacket to protect you from rain.

  1. Insect Repellent

The Insect repellent is to protect you from insects within Budongo Forest like mosquitoes and Tsetse flies. Insects may cause sicknesses and skin swellings.

  1. Bottled water

Bottled water is to keep you hydrated throughout as you can move for a few hours by contacting the chimpanzees.

  1. A pair of Binoculars

While Chimpanzee trekking in the forest, you can see the many animals and birds as well. Binoculars are to help you optimize zoom in those that are at a far distance for clear viewings.

  1. Back pack

A light backpack should be with you always to keep your items like insect repellent, bottled water, and rain jacket in one place.

  1. Walking stick

Please carry a walking stick to give you extra support during the trekking if the trails are slippery. Alternatively, you can hire walking sticks at the headquarters of Kaniyo Pabidi or you can buy and own them.

Rules To Follow When Doing Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest

For your safety and the protection of the Chimpanzees, you need to follow a few rules along the forest trails.

  • If you are sick, you are not permitted into the forest as the chimpanzees might contact your disease.
  • Chimpanzee trekking is only for those above 15 years of age.
  • Littering in the forest is not permitted
  • Dispose off human waste at least 12 inches (30cm) deep
  • Please maintain silence while in the forest as you get to see more wildlife.
  • Also, maintain a distance of at least 8 meters (25 feet) from Chimpanzees at all times.
  • Do not imitate Chimpanzees’ vocalization (you do not know what you might be saying)
  • Avoid eating near Chimpanzees.
  • Chasing Chimpanzees is not acceptable in the forest.
  • During Photography, avoid using a flashlight.
  • A duration of 1 hour is permitted to be with the Chimpanzees.
  • Group sizes for chimp tracking are limited to 8 people

What Is Unique About Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest?

On the whole, Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest is truly unique in its way while on a safari in Uganda.

Trekking the chimpanzees brings you closer to other Primates, bird species, and forest-related animals.

Tracking Chimpanzees at Kaniyo Pabidi is not quite as reliable as it is at Kibale Forest. However, the terrain is flatter and easier with a success rate currently standing at 80% better than Kyambura Gorge.

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest is cheaper than that in Kibale Forest National Park. This is appropriate for those traveling on a low budget and who want to engage in the activity.

Budongo Forest is nearer to Kampala compared to other Chimpanzee trekking areas.

You can combine Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest with a Murchison Falls wildlife Safari making a primate wildlife safari.

Tourists occasionally visit Chimpanzees in Budongo forest. This makes it a true wilderness of nature as the place is not so populated.

When Did Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest Start?

Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest started in 2009. This happened when the Kaniyo Pabidi Eco-tourism site which was run and managed by the Jane Goodall institute was taken over.

The taking over of institute changed its name to Budongo Eco-Lodge which is managed by Uganda Lodges.

Uganda Lodges together with National Forestry Authority are working together to preserve and protect the forest reserve. Not only the reserve but also the primates, animals, and birds within the reserve.

Is Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest Worth It?

Yes, Chimpanzee Trekking in Budongo Forest is worth it. Tracking the chimpanzees is one of the momentous fueling adventures one needs to do while on a Ugandan Safari.

A mere look at our Cousins while in their natural habitat creates remarkable memories that truly make it worth it.

You can see Chimps leaving their nests, gathering food materials, and grooming each other. The dramatic hooting sounds from the chimpanzees in the wild make it a true wilderness experience.

How Difficult Is Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest?

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest has you embarking on the trekking trails in the forest in search of the apes.

The activity is not difficult as trekking gorillas in Bwindi. The trails are flatter and hikable making people with a reasonable degree of fitness an easy go.

However, Chimpanzees are not so different from other animals. They move distances in search of food and trekking them can take some time like 2-4 hours.

On lucky days, you can see Chimpanzees within minutes hike. In Budongo forest, sometimes you can sight Chimps after only 30 minutes.

Is Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest Safe?

Yes, Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest is more than safe. The Chimpanzees that are trekked have been habituated for more than 10 years and recognize the presence of humans.

To ensure safety, armed rangers with firearms accompany visitorsfor more protection. In case of any episode, a ranger has the right to shoot and scare the chimpanzees away or other animals.

Why Should You Do Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest?

If one does Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest, he/she benefits from doing the activity. However, the benefits are as well shared with the chimpanzees, communities, and the country.

  • Benefits To The Tourist

When one tracks Chimpanzees, he/she gets remarkable unforgettable memories. Chimpanzees are one of the close relatives of humans with 98.7% DNA similarity though leaving in the wild. So meeting them creates a soft heart touch with the apes.

You get to know and learn about the behavior of chimpanzees in the wild.

Chimpanzee trekking gives you up-close views of other primates, birds, animals, and plant species in the forest.

Chimpanzee trekking can help you test your fitness levels. The long treks make you know and understand your limits.

  • Benefits To The Chimpanzees

Chimpanzee conservation gets the most percentage of money got from selling Chimpanzee Trekking permits.

Chimpanzees are endangered primates. People surrounding the communities sometimes put snares in the forest and these trap the Chimpanzees. Some Chimpanzees have lost legs and arms.

The local people intend to trap small antelopes in the forest. However, their plan ends in the wrong way when Chimpanzees are trapped and injured severely.

The funds are then used in the treatment of the chimpanzees and are later released back to their communities.

  • To The Surrounding Community

When a tourist does Chimpanzee trekking, the surrounding communities get 20% of the trekking fee.  The communities then use the money for developing themselves like building schools.

Chimpanzee trekking employs people like rangers and porters. Porters charge a small fee when they help you carry your luggage during the activity.

Chimpanzee trekking in most areas ends with a community tour. In this case, you can purchase art and crafts made by the locals. The money got from selling the crafts is what they use for survival.

  • Benefits To The Country At Large-H3

Chimpanzee Trekking provides forex exchange to the country. The government implements taxes on the trekking permits and hence gets revenue.

Preparation For Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest

Anyone going to trek Chimpanzees in Budongo Forest or anywhere else in Uganda must be prepare thoroughly.

First, ensure that you are healthy and sick-free as you might be excluded from trekking the Chimpanzees if found sick.

Have enough sleep before the day of trekking. Try to sleep early so that you wake up on time.

Pack what to carry the night before the trekking date. This gives you time to remember what you might have forgotten.

Dress decently when going Chimpanzee trekking. Avoid wearing shouting colors as they irritate the apes. For ladies, ensure not to wear bright lipstick as this attracts the male chimpanzees and they are sexually active.

Be respectful to the Chimpanzees and other animals in the forest. Also, respect the environment you are in, the staff, and other visitors.

During the briefing, listen carefully to the trekking rules and stick to them. If failure to follow these rules might have consequences.

Is It Easy To Photograph Chimpanzees During Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest?

Chimpanzees are apes that run and swing in trees. Photography might seem to be a little difficult at some times. However, the Chimpanzees trekked are habituated and come near humans making it a good opportunity for photography.

The forest provides less lighting and yet the use of flashlights is prohibited. That’s why one needs to have a good camera that can execute with high ISO and low aperture.

You can as well carry good optimizing lenses to help you capture the true beauty of Chimpanzees and other animals.

Expertise Information To Know When Going For Chimpanzee Trekking In Budongo Forest

As experts, we are here to give you reliable information that will help you track chimpanzees and enjoy the experience with excitement.

Some of these things are skipped and not followed or used yet they are so helpful. Kindly read our expert information to guide you during your primate safaris in Murchison Falls National Park.

  1. When you are going Chimpanzee Trekking in Murchison Falls National Park, make sure that book accommodation nearby.

This will save you from traveling long distances and you will be on time for the activity. Sleeping far from the activity point inconvenience you as you will need to wake up so early in the morning.

In case of any delays, you may miss the activity.

  1. When going Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest, always go with bottled water to keep hydrated.
  2. Do not feed Chimpanzees if you have any edibles. The edibles may not be enough for them and cause trouble when they still want more.

The food may be poisonous and cause harm to the chimpanzees.

  1. When trekking Chimpanzees and they lose their temper, please don’t panic and stay still. If you run, this encourages the chimpanzees to attack you more.
  2. Avoid wearing bright-colored clothes as they stress the chimpanzees. Always put on neutral-colored clothes like brown and khaki as they easily blend with the current environment.

Women should avoid putting on bright lipstick. This attracts male chimpanzees who are sexually active since they have 98.7% DNA similarity with that of humans.

  1. When taking pictures of the Chimpanzees, always keep your flashlight off. The flashlight causes tension among the apes.
For the safety:

Always put a loop that you can wear on your neck or twist around your arm during photography.

This keeps your camera from dropping down if frightened by something.

Chimpanzee trekking is one of the breathtaking Uganda safari activities in Murchison Falls National Park and should not be missed. This activity is as well enjoyed in Kibale National Park, Kyambura Gorge, and Kalinzu forest.

This ultimate activity brings you up close to the human cousins while in their natural habitat.

You get to see other primates, birds, and numerous animals of Uganda when trekking the chimpanzees.

You can combine Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest with a Uganda wildlife safari in Murchison falls park. The combination will guarantee you excitement.

If you have any questions concerning Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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