Uganda is a fantastic country to see some of Africa’s iconic wildlife and a great choice to see the chimpanzees and gorillas. Uganda is home to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where you can find one of the world’s only two populations of mountain gorillas. Bwindi is also home to chimpanzees and many other primates.
Combined with the other protected areas in Uganda (many are home to chimpanzees), this makes Uganda a fantastic place for gorilla and chimp tours.
Uganda is located at the northern edge of Lake Victoria, which is the world’s largest tropical lake. The country is home to some spectacular scenery being located in Africa’s Great Lakes Region.
This is an area of Africa where the continent is gradually splitting apart. The movement of the Earth has created many different lakes. An especially beautiful area of Uganda is known as the Crater Lakes Region. This is right next to some of the best places to see chimpanzees.
Protected Areas in Uganda
There are some fantastic protected areas to visit in Uganda. These areas are home to some iconic animals and plants. The main areas for wildlife include the Kibale National Park for chimpanzees, the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth National Park home to Africa’s Big 5 and chimpanzees, and the incredible Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with chimpanzees and half of the world’s mountain gorillas.
Kibale National Park
The Kibale National Park is home to 13 different primate species, including the chimps. In fact, the park is one of the best places on Earth to see chimpanzees in the wild.
Covering 76,600 hectares of tropical rainforest, the park is located in western Uganda. The Kibale National Park mostly protects a rainforest habitat and contains a high diversity of animals and plants.
The primates in the Kibale National Park include mangabeys, red colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, black-and-white colobus, blue monkeys, and the chimpanzees. There are also elephants, bushbucks, buffalo, otters, warthogs, and sometimes lions. There are also many different birds and over 325 species have been seen so far. Many species, especially the elephants, wander between the Kibale Forest and the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park
Positioned in western Uganda, just south of the Kibale National Park above, the Queen Elizabeth National Park is a recommended protected area to visit. Unlike the Kibale Forest, the Queen Elizabeth National Park includes forest, savannah, and wetlands. The combination of different habitats creates an environment for many different animals and plants.
Uganda’s most popular protected area, you can find the large mammals of elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, lions, and giraffes within the national park. There are also chimpanzees and other primates living in the forest. The park is also a great place for birding with around 500 different birds found within the protected area This is also an important stop for migrating birds from the Great Rift Valley.
In addition to diverse wildlife, enjoy stunning scenery with many beautiful crater lakes.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Containing half the world’s mountain gorillas, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is one of the most loved protected areas in the country. This was once continuous forest with the rainforest of the Virunga Mountains. The Virunga Mountains create a beautiful backdrop for exploring the Bwindi Forest.
Bwindi is where you can see the mountain gorillas and the park contains a population of over 400. There is much more to the park, however. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to 350 different birds, 1,000 flowering plants, and 120 different mammals.
Covering just over 32,000 hectares, there’s a total of 10 primate species found in the park. The different primates includes black-and-white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons, and blue guenons. In addition to the gorillas, you can also find chimpanzees living in the forest. The other animals you can find in Bwindi include giant forest hogs, different small cats, elephants, and bushbucks.
The Mountain Gorillas
There are now only two populations of mountain gorillas living in the world. These occur in the Virunga Mountains and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are around 850 individuals in total equally split between both of these areas.
You can see the different habituated groups in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park from different trails. There are now 11 gorilla groups in total in the area, which are visited from 4 different trailheads. Each of the groups are then led by a silverback and are well habituated to visitors. Visitor numbers to each group are strictly controlled to cause the gorillas minimal stress.
Not only home to the gorillas, Uganda is also fortunate to contain another great ape, the chimpanzees. These live in a few protected areas in Uganda, but the best place to see them is a protected area called the Kibale Forest National Park mentioned above.
You can combine the experience of seeing the chimpanzees in Kibale with the gorillas in the Bwindi National Park on some excellent tours from the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, which sits on the Nteko Ridge overlooking the world famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. One of the main things to notice about gorillas and chimpanzees is that gorillas are much less active than chimpanzees. The chimpanzees seem to always be doing something and are very active.
In the Kibale Forest National Park, you can enjoy a habituation experience with the chimpanzees. This helps get new groups of chimpanzees familiar with visitors so they’re less stressed. First, you will track where the chimps are in the forest then be with them for an hour or until dusk if you would like. As this is a habituation experience, the longer you can spend the better, but as the activity is sometimes physically challenging, you can call time when you wish.
Other Primates in Uganda
Aside from the chimpanzees and gorillas, you are likely to see other primates as you explore the different protected areas. In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you may see some of the 10 different primates. Spot the vervet monkeys, baboons, colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, blue guenons, and the often favorite black-and-white colobus monkeys.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park is then home to black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, baboons, and vervet monkeys.
In addition to the chimpanzees, the other primates living in the Kibale Forest National Park include the red colobus monkeys, mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and the blue monkeys.
Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge
The Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge is a fantastic place to see gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The lodge sits on the Nteko Ridge overlooking the world famous Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Located just 300 meters from the Nkuringo trailhead, the lodge makes a great base for gorillas treks. Not only a great place to see the gorillas, the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge provides some fantastic itineraries to combine the gorillas with the chimpanzees in the magnificent Kibale Forest National Park. Here, we will provide two examples of the different tours. For more options, we recommend sending a message to the lodge using their page on TourTheTropics.com.
The Primate Tour – 10 Days
Some fantastic chimpanzee and gorillas tours to see both great apes are the different Primate Tours offered by the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge. The main one of these is the 10-day Primate Tour. This tour also combines some Big 5 sightings in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
On the classic 10-day Primate Tour, enjoy visiting the different protected areas mentioned above, including the Kibale Forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and then the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
First, you will have a habituation experience with the chimpanzees of Kibale Forest National Park. This is where the chimps are getting used to visitors and you can stay with them for a short while or until dusk if you would like. The experience can be physically demanding so you can call time when you wish.
The area around Kibale Forest is a beautiful section of Uganda and there are different lakes you can visit. This is known as the Crater Lakes Region and there’s some beautiful scenery to see.
A nearby protected area to the Kibale Forest National Park is the popular Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is an adjoining protected area at the south of the forest. This is a great place to see some of the main African safari animals visitors enjoy. You will enjoy a game drive in the national park to spot some members of the Big 5, including the elephants, lions, and buffalo. This is also a great place for birding with over 500 species to see. In addition to these, the park is also home to 10 different varieties of primates.
After your time here, you will travel to the incredible Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park for the gorilla trekking part of your tour. This is one of the most famous park in Africa due to the mountain gorillas. You can find over 400 individuals within the forest and the habituated members are reached from 4 different trailheads.
The comfortable Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge is just 300 meters from the start of the Nkuringo trailhead to see the gorillas. You will first enjoy some delicious food and a comfortable night sleep at the lodge. After this, you will head to the visitor reception area at the start of the trail. You will then begin your trek, which varies in time dependent on where the gorillas are in the forest. You can spend a maximum of one hour with the gorillas once you have found them and will then return to the lodge.
The next day, enjoy the Lake Mburo National Park with some beautiful views and canoeing before your return journey home.
The Primate Tour – 7 Days
Offering a 7-day alternative to the 10-day Primate tour above, enjoy visiting the Kibale Forest National Park, the beautiful Crater Lakes, and then the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The focus of the primate tour is on the chimpanzees and gorillas of Uganda. Enjoy visiting the Kibale forest for a habituation experience with the chimpanzees. You can stay with the group until dusk if you like. However, as the activity can be physically demanding, you can call time when you wish.
After enjoying the chimps in Kibale Forest, it’s time to head to the incredible Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This is where you will enjoy your gorilla trekking experience. While here, enjoy staying at the comfortable Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge. The lodge offers spectacular views of the Bwindi Forest and offers a comfortable stay with delicious food. Also, the lodge is just 300 meters from the start of your gorilla trekking trail. After a relaxing night sleep, you will head to the trailhead and visitor registration area. After a briefing on correct behavior, you will being the trek itself. This can vary in time as it depends where the group is in the forest. You can then spend a maximum of 1 hour with the gorillas themselves before returning to the lodge for some hot food and comfortable night sleep.