Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park, Uganda

Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda

A community of wild chimpanzees were all around me. The leader, an elderly looking male, had one eye and silvery, grey hair on his back. Don’t mistake that for weakness though. He was powerful and the rest of the community respected him and protected him when they sensed danger. Mothers carried babies on their backs. The babies were curious and often stood on two legs to look around and assess the situation. Another community of chimpanzees was close by and the members were on high alert. Screaming and movement were a part of the full hour that I was able to spend with these magnificent apes. It was the most wild travel adventure of my life. Africa Adventure Safaris planned the adventure of a lifetime in Uganda and this was only day two. 

I embarked from the Kanyanchu Visitor Center in Kibale Forest National Park at 3 PM. It’s the rainy season so tourists weren’t as plentiful and I entered the forest with only one other person – the guide. He was armed with a rifle and a radio and dressed in camouflage.

We were heading deep into the forest to trek chimpanzees. Millions of thoughts ran thought my head. What if something happens to this man while we’re in the forest? What if we get lost? What if I lose him? What if the chimpanzees are aggressive and attack us? What if he tries to hurt me? What if….

I made small talk to get out of my head.

Chimps in Uganda

It wasn’t long before we heard their screams and howls and then we were among them. There were about twenty in the community and they were mostly on the ground while a few were swinging in the trees. I saw three babies riding on the backs of their moms. Adults and children sat and moved around me. I took several photos and videos and watched in awe. One male looked at me and it was uncanny how much I felt like I was looking at a human. It wasn’t a blank look; he was studying me. Honestly, it made me a little freaked out. Chimpanzees are the closest relatives to humans and we share over 98 percent of their DNA.  They are sociable, intelligent, and communicative, but they are wild animals and I was in their home.

Baby Chimp on Mom, Uganda

Although I tried to maintain the required distance of 5-8m, I could have reached out and touched them. I guess they weren’t given the 5-8m guidelines. They looked at me. They cleaned each other. They scratched. They walked on two legs. They were like watching children who spoke a different language.

Chimpanzees in Kibale National ParkChimp Leader in Uganda

Chimps cleaning in Uganda

We spent an entire hour with them. They moved around but they weren’t trying to get away from us. It was the most unbelievable wildlife encounter of my life. I didn’t want to leave yet I didn’t want to overstay my welcome.

Selfie with a Chimpanzee in Uganda

I have had some amazing travel experiences in my life but this was the wildest moment of my travels. When I was a child, I imagined having adventures like this but I didn’t believe they were actually possible. Africa Adventure Safaris makes your wildest dreams a reality.

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29 thoughts on “Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park, Uganda

  1. That is really amazing! I wanted to do the gorilla trakking when I was in Uganda, but it was a bit to expencive so I passed. But a friend of mine did it as well, and she said it was amazing!
    But I saw shipanzees as well, and they are funny as well 😉

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    • During the rainy season, it is substantially cheaper to do the gorilla trekking. Regardless, it was the most wild adventure of my life. If you have the opportunity again, I hope you do it. You won’t regret it. 🙂

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  2. An amazing experience, to actually be walking so close to the wildlife. It is a testament to the company’s organisation that you can participate and still feel reasonably safe.

    I thought our recent South Africa safari was good in completely open vehicles, but walking through the bush takes it to a new level.

    Did you see other animals?

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    • I saw tons of other wildlife, but not much on this day. I did the gorilla trek a few days later as well as a tree-climbing lion safari. I also saw zebras, lots of deer like animals, warthogs, buffalo, elephants, and crocodiles. It wasn’t as many animals as my safari in Namibia but both the chimps and the gorillas totally made up for it. What was your favorite wildlife encounter?

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      • Our favourites were watching a pride of 13 lions devour a 3,000 lbs giraffe in under 48 hrs, and

        After sunset one evening we had a leopard walk down the side of the truck, on my side. There was no gap between the side of the vehicle and him. We were literally 2 feet above him in a completely open vehicle.

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    • Being with just the guide definitely added to the experience. I didn’t need to think about others taking photos or being in the way. It was more of a personal experience.

      I was in a group during the gorilla trek though and it was still unbelievable. Did you do that as well?

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  3. Lesley, the expression on your face says it all! You look truly amazed and feeling privileged and in awe of being there, I am so glad for you, well done to appreciate the closeness of you and them, I don’t mean the few metres they ignored! A great account! Kevin

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    • After sailing to Antarctica on Bark Europa, I thought about the most wild, extreme adventure I could imagine. Gorilla trekking topped the list. After researching the best companies in the world for gorilla trekking, I decided to work with Africa Adventure Safaris. Like Bark Europa, they completely lived up to my expectations.

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