Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) is done in Kibale forest National Park as an activity set for visitors who are interested to learn more about chimpanzee behavior in the wild. Kibale forest is found in western Uganda in Fort portal and Kamwenge district that protects a rain forest which is a home to 13 primate species and over 351 different bird species. These primates include chimpanzees “our closest relative”, red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkey, vervet monkeys, poto and many other animals like Leopards, elephants and bush pigs,
Kibale forest is one of Uganda’s best bird watching spot, with a great number of bird species. Here they include Red chested owlet, Green breasted Pitta, Grey parrot, crowned eagle, yellow throated nicator, yellow spotted barbet, African gray parrot, and so many more making it the ideal spot of birding.
Originally, Chimpanzees in Kibale forest were not accustomed to human presence therefore a process called Chimpanzee habituation which is the process of making chimpanzees get used to human presence was introduced to get these chimpanzees used to doing their daily activities with the presence of people. This process takes around two years. Therefore Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) allows visitors to accompany researchers and habituators into the forest to spend time with these primates. This activity requires advance booking of the permit to allow enough time for preparation of the guide and entire team who will accompany you in the forest.
The Habituation experience can either be a half day or full day. Unlike Chimpanzee tracking which allows visitors only one hour, chimpanzee habituation experience allows you 6 hours with the chimps. A typical day of chimpanzee habituation Experience starts between 6:00 and 6:30am where you are led by a park ranger guide into the forest and to where the chimpanzees made nests the previous night, you will watch them getting up from their nests, feeding, breastfeeding, copulating, mating, grooming each other, hunting, resting and end the day with seeing the chimps building their new nests around 7pm.
Because of some challenges where chimps must be allowed time to rest and probably feed, Visitors nowadays allowed to spend 6 hours on this activity. Chimpanzee habituation experience permits need to be booked months before the day of the experience to avoid missing out the experience because slots sometimes get finished, meaning the demand is high. The activity can be included on your gorilla trekking itinerary organized by your travel agency upon request if interest in primates and is available all year round but the best time is in the low season when the park is not over crowded.
These CHEX permits cost a little higher than the normal chimpanzee tracking permits since you get to spend more time with the chimps. The chimpanzee habituation Experience permits cost USD 250 for both foreign residents and Non-residents visitors. Ugandans and other East African residents per person pays UGX: 200,000. Valid for 6 hours.
Normal Chimpanzee tracking starts at 8:00 am, and allows visitors to stay with fully habituated chimpanzee for a period of one hour. The cost of normal chimp trekking is USD 200 for foreign non-residents, USD: 150 for foreign residents in East Africa and UGX: 200000 for local residents and East African residents in all seasons. You are advised to carry enough drinking water, packed lunch, rain coat on your trek.