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Kibale National Park reviews

10 reviews

“Be sure to wear long socks you can tuck your pants into so the fire ants can't bite you!--lesson learned!” - FrugallyFickle Traveler

The Hidden Pearl of Africa; Chimp Habituation Experience (CHEX)

Views: 1287 Visited: Apr 2013 Reviewed: Jan 15, 2014

After somberly deciding Gorilla Trekking was just way too much money for my mid-twenty year old budget, my travel partner and I decided to check out chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park and discovered the option for chimp habituation experience during our research. What's the difference you ask? Chimp trekking allows only one hour with the chimps after hiking in to the forest to find them. With Chimp Habituation, you hike in at dawn (On paper at least; we're working on African time, so it was probably closer to 7:30am that we finally departed) and spend the entire day with them, observing and following,
sometimes running in the woods with them, until as late at 7pm.

It took us about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to find them in the forest, listening to their hoots and hollers and changing directions on the path based on our experienced guides judgement. The mid-morning watching was fun, but they were mostly high in the trees foraging for food. It'd be a shame if we chose only the 1 hour experience and this is all we saw. By afternoon, we saw all different behaviors. Some were relaxing on the forest floor, some young ones wrestling with each other, others chasing baboons trying to snatch babies for a snack, baby chimps practicing their swinging on (and falling off of) tree limbs, as well as a chimp couple trying to get intimate, but a young chimp kept interrupting them! It was a fascinating, amazing experience. We'd find ourselves in the middle of 15-30 chimps in the deep forests of Uganda, with sounds of the chimps hollering at adjacent groups booming around us.

Since we took motorbikes from the place we were staying to the park entrance, we decided to leave at 3pm so we could get back when it was still light and see the route we took in the dark 5am that morning. But again, we could have stayed as long as 7pm.

Overall, CHEX is only $220/person for the park permit and guide, while chimp trekking for the hour is $160/person. If you ask me, the $60 more is far worth it for the option to play Jane Goodall for a whole day. By far, this was one of my most memorable experiences in East Africa. If I ever go back, I will surely do it again!

Side Note: We went in April which is considered the rainy season, which translates to low-tourist season. We literally were the only two in the entire National Park that day! And, lucky for us, it was a completely dry day!

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