Murchison Falls National Park Chimpanzee Trekking

Murchison falls National park chimpanzee trekking

Murchison falls National park chimpanzee trekking

Murchison falls National park chimpanzee trekking  : Murchison Falls National park is not only the one of the best wildlife destination in Uganda but also one of the best places to trek chimpanzees and it is second only to Kibale Forest National Park – the primate capital.

Chimpanzee trekking in Murchison Falls National Park is done in Budogo and Rabongo Forests.

Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest

Budongo Forest is part of Murchison Fall National Park and is the largest natural rainforest in the whole of East Africa, the forest is situated in about 30 minutes’ drive from Kichumbanyabo gate to the visitor’s Center inside he forest.

Budongo Forest also known as Budongo Forest Reserve covers about 826 square kilometers and half of this is undisturbed forest. The forest is divided into three major tourism sites that are Kaniyo Pabidi, Busingiro and Sonso Sections.

The Kaniyo Pabidi and Busingiro ecotourism sites are managed by The Jane Goodall Institute.

There are 4 rivers flowing through the forest and pour into Lake Albert, these include Kamirambwa, Waisoke, Siba and Sonso.

Budongo Forest is known for hosting a large population of chimpanzees and mahogany trees, these trees can grow to about 85 meters long and 21 meters in diameter. The forest also hosts 464 other tree species, 24 mammals, 300 butterflies and 9 types of primates that include Olive baboons, Blue Monkeys, Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys, Red-tailed Monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys and Blue Monkeys.

There are over 600 chimpanzees in Budongo Forest and a small population of these chimpanzees have been habituated and open for tourism. The first person to study chimpanzees in udongo Forest was Vernon Reynolds together with Adriaan Kortlandt and Jane Goodall the first primatologist to do extensive studies of chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Vermon left Uganda due to the political uncertainity and civil wars between 1972 and 1986, he later returned in 1990 to find the chimpanzee population severely disseminated due to uncontrolled poaching. The population had decreased due to uncontrolled poaching, infant chimps were often sold to collectors outside Africa after their mothers begin short dead. By 1995, less than 55 individuals were recorded in Budongo forest.

With funding from the Edinburg Zoo, RZSS and other sources, group researchers started their work in the forest, these researchers initiated a project (The Budongo Forest Project) which was later renamed Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS) combing conservation and research while also ensuring sustainable management of the forest.

Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest is done twice a day that is in the morning around 0700 hours and in the afternoon around 15 hours daily, as a visitor on a chimpanzee trekking safari in Murchison Falls National Park it is your choice to choose any of the shifts of chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest.

On the day of chimpanzee trekking, all visitors meet at the Kaniyo Pabidi Eco site for briefing about the proper way of conducting yourself while in the forest, then head into the forest using several tracking trails in company of Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers and armed guide for safety reasons.

Chimpanzee tracking takes 3 hours including one hour of interacting with the chimpanzees, taking pictures and head back to the starting point. As you trek through the forest, expect to see several bird species and other primates such as olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys among others.

Chimpanzee Trekking Permits in Budongo Forest

Chimpanzee trekking permits in Budongo forest are issued by The Uganda Wildlife Authority, strictly 8 permits are issued per shift therefore only 16 permits are issued ou on daily basis.

Each permit costs $85 per trek per person.

The cost of chimpanzee trekking includes nature walk in Budongo forest, 1 hour of being in the presence of chimpanzees while learning their behavior and taking pictures.

Eligibility for chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest

 Only individuals above the age of 15 years old are allowed to participate in chimpanzee trekking in Budongo forest, Murchison Falls National Park.

Rabongo Forest

Rabongo Forest is an island covered by tropical – river forest in Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The forest is a home to a reasonable population of chimpanzees and other primate species including olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys and red – tailed monkeys.

Because of the fewer chimpanzee families in Rabongo Forest, chimpanzee trekking is less common here than in Budongo Forest.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Murchison Falls National Park

Chimpanzee habituation experience is the perfect chimpanzee experience for visitors who wish to spend more with the chimpanzees, this activity starts as early 6 am at the park’s headquarters where you will meet with the guides and head into the forests.

You will find chimpanzees where they built their nests the night before, you will spend the entire day with the chimpanzees watching them in their natural habitat, from the moment they wake up around 6.6.30 am to the moment they build their new nests for the night.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is designed to help chimpanzees become habituated and comfortable with human presence.

Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park and Kibale National Park are the only places in Uganda offering the chimpanzee Habituation Experience.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience Permit costs $ 220.

When is the best time to go chimpanzee trekking?

The best time to go chimpanzee trekking is between October and January, during these months, the trails are dry and the vegetation cover is short and the fruits are ripening. However, the chimps may move deeper into the forests, as food and water are scarcer so spotting them may take longer.

June and July is a high season and in this period, there is high competition for both accommodation and permits, the temperature is cooler and there is less rainfall.

What to carry

When going for a chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation experience in Murchison Falls National Park, there are the things you should bring on your trek.

  • Lightweight waterproof trousers
  • A quick-dry long-sleeved T-shirt
  • A lightweight waterproof jacket
  • A hat
  • Thick socks
  • A sturdy pair of hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Rucksack
  • Bottled water
  • Sun cream
  • Insect repellent
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Camera/Phone

Where to stay in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park consists of many accommodation options ranging from budget, midrange and luxury. These accommodations are found in the Albert Nile, Paraa, the Victoria Nile, Kaniyp Pabidi and the Masindi road.

Accommodations in Murchison Falls National Park include

  • Pakuba Safari Lodge
  • Paraa Safari Lodge
  • Baker’s Lodge
  • Budongo Eco Lodge
  • Twiga Safari Lodge
  • Murchison River Lodge
  • Nile Safari Lodge
  • Chobe Safari Lodge among others.
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