Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) is one of the activities preferred by most tourists on their holiday to the Pearl of Africa. An encounter with these closest relatives of man is one of the most rewarding, fun-filling, and memorable experiences one should not miss in their lifetime.
CHEX is far different from normal chimpanzee tracking because it helps you to understand the chimpanzees more from their behaviors to how they feed, nurse their young ones, sleep, communicate as well as interact while in their natural habitat. The chimpanzee Habituation Experience takes place in the tropical rain forest of Kibale national park.
Chimpanzee habituation refers to the process of making the chimpanzees get used to human presence and this usually takes two or more years. The chimpanzee habituation experience begins with an early briefing at the Kanyanchu Tourism Information center.
This briefing is so important in way that you get to listen to the instructions given to you by the ranger guide in preparation to enter the forest in search of man’s closest relatives. After the briefing, you will be led by one of the ranger guides as you start the tracking in the forest as early as 6:30 am.
Remember, Kibale forest national park is 795 square kilometers of tropical rainforest covered with grassland patches and is also dominated by swamps in the Northern and Central parts of the park. The chimpanzee habituation experience enables the tourists to accompany these primates in their natural habitat from when they leave their nests in the morning until they go back to sleep in the evening.
This is an exhilarating experience as you accompany these primates from the tile they leave the nests, go looking for food, and water, nurse the young ones, groom, and rest. This helps you to understand and know more about their characters.
Chimpanzees leave their nests as early as 6 am and begin the day with daily activities including breastfeeding, displaying, copulating, resting, feeding as well as patrolling until they go back to make new nests for another night.
A full-day chimpanzee habituation experience is one of a kind as it helps you to take good and clear photographs of these amazing creatures as they go through their daily life and activities in their natural habitat. Here you can also identify most individuals by their markings and personalities and learn about their group dynamics.
Kibale forest national park is home to other primates like the vervet monkey, L’hoest monkey, red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus monkey, and grey-checked mangabey. All these and other wildlife can be spotted during the chimpanzee tracking exercise. Elephants, bush pigs, and many bird species are also encountered during habituation.
The cost of chimpanzee habituation is USD250 for Foreign Non-Residents (FNR), 200USD for Foreign Residents (FR), and 200,000 Uganda shillings for East African Citizens (EAC). These are the current fees for the chimpanzee habituation full-day experience in Kibale forest national park as of July 2022-June 2024 though may be subject to change due to government taxes.
Drier months of the year are preferably the most targeted months for the chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale forest national park. This is between May to September and November to March when the trails are less slippery and not tampered with.
In November you can also be able to spot as many migratory birds as you can in Kibale forest national park. Chimpanzee habituation research is done during the wet months of the year when the park is having few visitors and this eases the habituation process.