When trekking to see chimpanzees you tend to hear them before you see them. The forest reverberates with their cries and hoots, and the sounds hit your chest giving you an almost primeval feeling.
The experience of watching chimps can be very variable depending on what they are doing. If they are in the trees eating fruit you will usually get a good sighting, though possibly also a cricked neck! If they are on a hunt or in playful mood they can move around very quickly of course, so you might need to keep moving the watch them. If they are on the ground, perhaps grooming, you may be treated to a much closer view.Watching chimps can be an altogether edgier experience than being with gorillas if they're active. They might be drumming on buttress roots in the forest, having an argument, or swinging high above you in the canopy.
Depending on where you are trekking, the terrain can vary from reasonably flat to extremely steep, but it’s always forested of course. Once you find the chimps, you get about an hour to stay with them or follow them with your ranger.
If you are really keen on chimpanzees you could also consider taking a ”˜habituation trekking day’ where you go out for part of the day with a ranger who is working on habituating a new group of chimpanzees. This is not available everywhere, though by booking in advance you can commonly do this in Uganda.
UGANDA: Kibale Forest, Semliki, Budongo (near Murchison Falls) or Kyambura Gorge (near Queen Elizabeth NP) all have habituated wild chimps. Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary is on Lake Victoria near Entebbe.
RWANDA: Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest also has chimps.
TANZANIA: Gombe Stream National Park is where Jane Goodall researched chimps for many years. Mahale Mountains National Park is also on Lake Tanganyika.
KENYA: Sweetwaters Chimp Sanctuary is in Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
You can go chimp trekking at any time, but it's much more difficult and uncomfortable in the rainy season of April and May.
There are some good lodges near all of the places you can see chimps. We can tailor make a trip for you as you wish.
In Rwanda and Uganda most people take one or two chimp treks within a wider wildlife itinerary.
In Tanzania's Mahale Mountains or Gombe Stream this is one of the prime focuses of your visit, though you will also enjoy seeing other wildlife and amazing scenery.
Gorillas and other primates, plus little-visited Akagera and Rwandan culture.
From Murchison Falls, to wildlife in Queen Elizabeth NP, chimps in Kibale and gorillas in Bwindi.
Get right off the beaten track with this safari to some of the most remote, but spectacular locations in Tanzania.
Highlights of Ugandan wildlife including gorilla and chimp trekking.