Uganda is a magnet for primate enthusiasts. Located in the Eastern part of Africa, this prime destination is among the top countries with the highest numbers of primate species in Africa. Its lush habitats include tropical rain forests, montane forests and bamboo forests are one of the reasons for the wide range of primates.
Some of these species are chimpanzees, Golden monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys, baboons, Vervet, blue monkeys to name but a few. Listed below are some of the places to go for primate encounters while on a safari in Uganda;
Kibale Forest National Park
There are other places that inhabit primates in Uganda, but Kibale Forest National Park is referred to as the country’s primate capital. Located in Western Uganda, this Park covers a total area of 560 square kilometers and was declared as a National Park in 1993. The biggest area of Kibale is occupied by the moist evergreen, Savannah grasslands, and semi-deciduous forests.
With its blend of evergreen trees and deciduous around Kanyanchu, Kibale’s vegetation rises up to 55m establishing a semi-closed canopy that protects more than 13 different species of primates. Moreover, Kibale Forest National Park is ranked to harbor the greatest concentration of primates in East Africa. Some of these are Chimpanzees, grey-cheeked Mangabey, Black and White Colobus, Blue monkeys, and Red-tailed monkeys.
The current population in this protected area is approximated to 1000 individuals and part is habituated for tourism in the Kanyanchu area. Actually, chimpanzee tracking is the main reason for most trips arranged to this Park in western Uganda.
Other than primates, this park plays host to over 325 bird species including forest and water birds. This makes it a perfect getaway for those who seek a mix of primate watching and birding. Some of the birds common in Kibale include green breasted pitta, white-bellied crested flycatchers, woodland warbler, and orange tufted sunbird.
Budongo Forest Reserve
Seated atop the Albertine Rift part of the Great Rift Valley, Budongo is simply described as a medium-altitude, semi-deciduous, and moist tropical rain forest. It is part of the Murchison Falls conservation area and covers a total area of 825 square kilometers of which 430 square kilometers is a continuous forest.
This forest was under strict protection by the King of Bunyoro until it was gazetted as a reserve in 1932. Budongo forest is currently one of the protected areas in Uganda that boast rich biodiversity that consists of nine primate species including chimpanzees, 280 butterflies, and 24 species of small mammals.
About 600 individuals of Chimpanzee primates call Budongo home although a small community is habituated for tracking excursions. The community for tracking is composed of 80 individuals and is common most of the days except in the dry season when they tend to move into the forest in search of food.
Other primates that breathe life in the Budongo forest are red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, Black and white colobus, grey checked mangabeys, and olive baboons.
Adding to primates, the reserve boasts over 360 birds and 465 plant species including the Mahogany trees that can grow up to 80 meters. Some of the common birds in this protected area are chestnut crowned Eremomera, Dusky long-tailed cuckoo, Black-headed paradise flycatcher and chocolate-backed kingfisher.
Kalinzu Wildlife Reserve
With its large communities of Chimpanzee primates, Kalinzu forest is ranked to be the second-best place to meet with Chimps if not Kibale Forest National Park. It is a great stopover for those who are heading to Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can as well connect to Kalinzu from Queen and the drive takes about 40 minutes.
Over 320 chimps are recorded in the reserve, but only 50 are habituated and fully approved for tracking. The session usually takes about 3-4 hours and includes walks through steep slopes and valleys, therefore physical fitness is highly required. There are two sessions on offer (morning and afternoon sessions).
The morning session starts at 8:00 am and the afternoon session starts at 3:00 pm. Sometimes these chimps are not welcoming to strangers, that’s why a ranger guide is assigned to lead the group of trackers. During the tracking, you are also exposed to other primates and various species of birds.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Established to provide a home to the rescued and orphaned chimpanzees, Ngamba is a paradise for primate lovers. It is located on an island that is part of the Koome group of Islands.
Ngamba Chimp Sanctuary covers a large part that consists of tropical rainforests, grasslands, and swamps. Since it is located on an island, you can only get there by boat or plane. This notable locality treats visitors with a number of captivating activities such as chimpanzee feeding, caregiving, and bird watching.
With its inviting scenery, the Kyambura gorge is amongst the best places to see Chimpanzees in Uganda. It is home to a plethora of primate species although most travelers visit this area for Chimps. Kyambura gorge is part of Queen and a stunning spot that is rarely anywhere else in Uganda.
It was established mainly to act as a buffer zone for animals that come to the gorge for water in the dry season. Chimpanzees in this area tend to hide and a deep walk into the forest reveals more of other wildlife species that inhabit the gorge. Some of these species are birds, primates like baboons, vervet, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and more.