CHIMPANZEE TRACKING IN BUDONGO FOREST

Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest is a popular activity during a safari in Murchison Falls National Park. Budongo is located on the escarpment northeast of Lake Albert and covers parts of Hoima and Kikuube in Uganda. It lies northwest of the capital city, Kampala, on the way to Murchison Falls National Park. Spanning a distance of 500 km, Budongo Forest is home to many chimpanzees, making it one of the few places in Uganda with a strong chimpanzee population. The Budongo Conservation Field Station monitors and studies these chimpanzees.

Because of the area’s isolation, big cats such as lions have found refuge in the forest, so leaving the group during chimpanzee tracking is not recommended.

Way of doing chimpanzee tracking

First, before doing chimpanzee tracking, tourists need to buy chimp permits. They can purchase these permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority and trusted travel agents. Each permit costs $85 and allows for one tracking session.

Chimpanzee tracking is done twice a day in the morning around 7am or 8am and in the afternoon around 2pm or 3pm.

In the morning, chimpanzees leave their nests to look for food and gather it together. Males and non-lactating females search for food, while nursing females stay in the nest to care for the babies.

In the afternoon, you will see chimpanzees playing with each other on the ground or in the trees. In the evening, they start looking for trees to make their nests for the night.

Only 16 people above 15 years old are allowed to do chimpanzee tracking per day, split into two groups of 8 people each. The first group moves in the morning, and the second group moves in the afternoon. Visitors will spend one full hour with the primates, taking pictures, enjoying the view, observing grooming sessions, witnessing food gathering, and watching them play on the ground and in the trees with others. This creates memorable souvenirs for tourists.

During dry season it is tricky to locate the chimpanzee because they tend to go deeper in the forest looking for food since they cannot find it near the wayside.

How to track chimpanzee in Budongo forest?

They are tracked by many ways; here are some of them:

Housing nest

This is the way of tracking chimpanzee by identifying their nest where they slept last night; this is not easy to identify but rangers know how to do find their nest.

Foot track

This is when rangers use print left by this primate while moving to track them.

Dung

Using chimpanzee dung; rangers are able to determine how recent the primate have been there because if the dung is dry that mean they have moved for a long distance but if it is wet that mean they are not far.

Leftover fruits and leaves

Chimpanzees are clever; they do not eat unwanted part of food they throw them away and this leads rangers to their current location.

This are some of things that you need to know about chimpanzee tracking in Budongo forest.

Recommended outfit for chimpanzee tracking

To enhance chimpanzee tracking, choose natural colors such as grey or khaki instead of bright colors like red, which may stress the chimpanzees. Additionally, avoid army green due to its association with the military.

Hiking boat, rain jacket, sunglasses, long shirts and trousers, garden clothes… are preferred for this activities.

Some of things that you need to carry are:

A small backpack

This will help in caring some of your essential things such as camera phone bottled of water.

Sunhat

This will protect you from direct sunlight mostly when it comes to the dry season.

A stick

This will help you to walk properly when it comes to place where you have to climb.

The best season for chimpanzee tracking is the dry season that is usually from June to February.

Some rules of chimpanzee tracking

Tourists should not approach primates they should make sure to leave at list 7 meters between tourists and chimpanzees.

Travelers should avoid provocations to chimpanzee

No smoking, drinking and making noise in the presence of chimpanzees

Sick tourist suffering from cold, diarrhea or any other sickness are not allowed to do this activity.

Tourist should stay in group while visiting the habitat of this primate.

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