CHIMPANZEE TRACKING IN BUDONGO FOREST UGANDA
Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo forest reserve is one of the most liked activity among others, that visitors of Budongo forest wouldn’t like to miss out. Budongo forest is located in northwestern part of Uganda in Masindi district approximately 4 hours drive from Kampala city as you head to Murchison falls national park. It about 10 minutes drive from Kichumbanyobo southern gate of Murchison falls national park to the visitors Centre where all activities begins from. The forest reserve is a home to different wildlife species, It’s the home to 359 bird species, 9 Primate species, 24 species of other mammals and 465 tree species.
Budongo forest is also famous for having the most beautiful old Mahogany trees in Uganda and East Africa at large. Besides mahogany trees, it is also known to be the largest natural rain forest in east Africa. The forest itself covers an area of 500 square kilometers. This rain forest has a large number of chimpanzees approximately 600 to 700 chimpanzees.
Budongo forest reserve is part of the larger Murichison falls conservation area having four rivers flowing through the forest into lake Albert. These are Kamirambwa, Waisoke, Siba and Sonso.
Chimpanzee tracking/trekking is done twice a day that’s in the Morning and in the afternoon giving a visitor interested in Chimpanzee tracking to choose the appropriate time for them. It all starts with the visitors coming to Kaniyo Pabidi Eco site (Visitors Centre) for briefing about the tracking and then heading into the forest through the tracking trails with the guidance from the Forest tour guide who give you all the necessary information about the forest and Chimpanzees.
The Chimpanzee tracking takes approximately 3 hours consisting of trekking to the Chimpanzee community, having a full hour with the Chimpanzees taking pictures and learning about them, then another hour walking back to the start. Sometimes they are found near the eco site in rainy season but other times they are scarce especially in dry season when they move deep in the forest to look for food making it hard to find them so the time spent depends on how fast you get to the chimps.
Visitors interested in doing Chimpanzee trekking needs a Chimpanzee trekking permit which is issued by the Reputable Organization that manages the forest activities/ Uganda Wildlife Authority. Strictly 8 people are allowed per shift, therefore 16 permits are issued per day each permit costing about 85$ per person. The price of the trekking depends on the different seasons.
The Chimp permits takes you to track and meet habituated families of chimpanzees while along there are many different activities that one can do on visit to Budongo forest. These include nature walks in the forest, bird watching and sight seeing along the chimpanzee trail. The tracking of chimpanzees is only allowed for persons above 18years of age.
With the experience got after chimpanzee tracking one would not remember the price paid therefore you should add it on your program once visiting Uganda, for example 3 Days Murchison falls Safari Uganda or on any other itinerary. At Kaniyo Pabidi Visitor Centre, there’s an eco-lodge, for meals and accommodation of visitors who intends to spend enough time without rush in the forest.