It is one thing to spend an hour with the chimpanzees of Uganda it is another experience to be with them all day long.
Most people do not realize that they have a choice between chimpanzee tracking and a Chimpanzee habituation experience. People come to Uganda for the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzee tracking.. There are 4950 chimpanzees within Uganda, Kibale Forest alone has the most with almost 1500 Chimpanzees.
Most visitors visit the chimpanzees much like the Mountain Gorillas for one hour – there is however another option that allows you to be with chimpanzees all day long in the forests of Budongo or Kibale Forest – it is the habituation experience – all day with chimpanzees in their natural setting.
The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is not for the faint of heart – it means an early breakfast – a packed lunch and you are off before dawn breaks into the forest. You meet your guide and you are off to where the chimpanzees built nests the night before. Dawn is just breaking and the chimpanzee community you are going to be with the rest of the day is rising from their sleep.
However you are here for the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience – which entails getting the chimpanzees used to the presence of humans (to remove the fear of humans from the group), a process that takes up to two years – and today you are part of that process by your all day presence in the forest. Years ago, it used to be that you had a 20% chance of seeing chimpanzees in the wild, today because of the habituation process that has increased to over 90%.
Your day will be full, your camera will fill up with quality pictures of the chimpanzees and you will get to learn to identify them as individuals by their markings, sometimes scars and other unique features that make them stand apart from rest.
The day ends as the chimpanzees climb into their newly built nests for the evening and you head back to your lodging for the evening.
WHEN IS IT BEST?
The habituation experience is best in the months of March, April, May and November, when there is less tourist congestion. In a small group (a ranger plus a maximum of four people), you get much closer to the chimps than during chimp tracking in larger groups. The adventure costs $220 (sh572,000) for foreign non-residents, $150 (sh390,000) for foreign residents and $70 (sh182,000) for East Africans.