One of the top activities in Kibale National Park is the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience. Kibale is unique in that it is one of the few places where tourists can do both traditional chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation. Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda is the process of acclimating chimps to being around humans. The process takes about two years to complete. After locating the chimps, tourists are only allowed one hour with them in Kibale. Tourists spend the entire day with the chimps during the chimp habituation process. Chimpanzee tracking and Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda take place all year long. Despite the mud, the best time to track chimps is during the rainy season. Chimpanzees prefer to move deeper into the forests in search of food during the dry season.
During the rainy season, the forests are lush and fruitful, limiting the mobility of chimp communities. Visitors can find them without having to travel a long distance. Visitors are always advised to book their chimp permits months in advance. There is a limit to how many people can track a specific chimp community each day, and this is entirely dependent on whether you go tracking in Uganda or Rwanda. In most cases, however, it is 6 people per community in a single session. Chimpanzee tracking usually begins with a briefing from a guide in the morning.
Visitors are not permitted to enter the forest on their own and must be accompanied by a park guide. The rangers track down chimp groups by following clues left behind. Furthermore, habituated chimps can recognize the familiar faces of the guides, which reassures them. Most parks and reserves that allow tourists to visit chimps have two tracking sessions per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The chimps are more engaged in the morning, when they go out to feed and hunt. In the afternoon, many of the members are relaxing and grooming one another as they seek shelter from the sun’s rays.
Anticipate to be escorted by armed rangers/guards while trekking with chimps. By shooting in the air, the rangers scare away other wild animals such as buffaloes and elephants that may pose a threat to visitors. The guides may also begin by looking for them in the vicinity of where they built their last night’s nest. Tracking chimps can take hours according to the season and the park you visit. However, unlike mountain gorillas, which are relatively quiet with infrequent barks from the dominant male, determining their exact location is not difficult. Chimpanzees are obstinate, unruly, and noisy.
Trackers can identify them by their hoots and barks. Once you’ve found a community, expect to spend a long time following them through hills, dense forest, and vegetation – often at high speed. Be cautious of falling fruit and chimp urine. Be patient as the chimps may take some time to descend from the trees and settle down on the ground. Once they’re on the ground, you’ll have several chances to take good photos and watch their unique behavior and personality.
Chimpanzee habituation refers to the process of allowing wild Chimpanzees to become used to or accustomed to human presence in their environment through continuous and prolonged visits led by experienced researchers and park guides/wardens. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, it can take up to two years for chimps to become completely accustomed to people in their environment. Wild chimps will flee or treat humans with suspicion. The price for chimp habituation experience is only mildly higher than the price for normal chimp habituation experience, providing better value for money.
Unfortunately, chimp habituation experiences are not currently available in Rwanda. It is only possible in Kibale National Park in Uganda and Tanzania in East Africa.
Unlike normal chimp tracking, visitors spend the entire day following these magnificent animals during the chimp habituation experience. The Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda is more demanding, and visitors participate in all habituation-related activities, as opposed to the 4 hour trekking, where visitors remain at a safe distance. Visitors must get up before dawn to meet the guides and search for the chimps before they leave their nests.
You will be able to observe them as they wake up and prepare for the day’s activities such as feeding, resting, caring for their young, protecting their territories, and finally building their nests on top of trees. Because the experience lasts all day, lunch is usually provided. By the end of the experience, you should be acquainted with all of the participants, including their physical characteristics and personalities. The Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda concludes when the chimps retire to their nests for the night.
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