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Primate safaris in Uganda

Primate safaris in Uganda are considered one of the greatest activities to do in Africa. Uganda is home to rare endangered primate species like mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Most of the primates are encountered in deep tropical rainforests and require travelers to walk through the jungle before they can have a glance at them. Some common primates in Uganda include chimpanzees, red colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, and blue monkeys.

Most primate safaris in Uganda are done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale National Park, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, there are other areas to have a glance at primates like Budongo Forest, Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu Forest, and Ngamba Sanctuary. The best time to visit Uganda for primate safari is between June and October since there is always little or no rain making it easier to trek deep into the forests. Additionally, during this period most primates are outside their nests and easy to see as they feed and play around.

Top activities to do on a primate safari in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is the top activity done on a primate safari in Uganda. Uganda hosts more than half of the population of the remaining mountain gorillas. Gorillas can be found in both Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks located in the southwestern part of the country. There are 22 habituated gorilla families which are open for tourism, these have been habituated for a period of about 3 to 4 years. This makes it safe for both tourists and gorillas, anyone interested in seeing gorillas must acquire a permit before engaging in the activity.

Trained guides, armed rangers, and some local porters accompany travelers to the deep forests where gorillas can be found. You are allowed strictly one hour in their presence, you get to watch them feed, play, groom one another, and learn about their families.

Four sectors namely Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo, and Rushaga sectors are in Bwindi, travelers are grouped and allocated a sector to trek based on their age and level of fitness. Visitors begin with a briefing which is done very early at the park headquarters, during which they are given guidelines to follow.

Chimpanzee Trekking- Primate safaris in Uganda

Chimpanzee Trekking is among the most popular and most done activities on a Uganda Safari. Kibale National Park is considered the primate capital of the world. This is because it is home to about 1,500 chimps. There is no other place in the world to have the greatest success rate of encountering chimpanzees. A group of 8 individuals including the guides are allowed to be in the same presence as chimpanzees. Only one hour is allowed to be spent with them.

You may take pictures but your flash must be off, all these guidelines are given to tourists before the trekking begins. Usually, all trekkers meet at the park headquarters for a briefing before 8 am. They are given all the necessary information regarding their safety and that of the primates. This is done before heading to the forest for trekking. All interested tourists must acquire a trekking permit which is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. A permit can be obtained through a travel agent if you are not within the country.

Golden Monkey Trekking

Golden monkey trekking is done in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is part of the Virunga ranges. This area is shared by Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This activity requires one to be physically fit as the golden monkeys move at rapid speed yet you are required to follow them. They feed on young bamboo leaves and shoots and are usually in a group of about 30 individuals.

During primate safaris in Uganda, travelers are required to acquire permits at least 2 to 3 months before the activity. These tours usually begin very early in the morning before 8 o’clock. During golden monkey trekking other primates can be seen including red colobus monkeys, patas monkeys, olive baboons, blue monkeys, and many more.

The areas to visit for a primate safari in Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is well known for gorilla trekking and habituation experiences. It is located in the southwestern part of the country and hosts 21 gorilla families habituated for tourism. In addition, the park has birds, butterflies, reptiles, and many tree species that can be explored during the trekking experience. READ MORE

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of the Virunga ranges shared by 3 countries: DRC, Uganda, and Rwanda. Golden monkey trekking is done in this area, not elsewhere in Uganda, in addition to gorilla trekking. Due to the altitude of this area, travelers must be physically fit and emotionally ready in case they want to visit for their primate safari in Uganda. READ MORE

Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is the world’s primate capital with about 1,500 chimpanzees. It is a tropical rain forest and home to various primate species giving a great success rate of encountering most primates. This park is home to other wild species like elephants, antelopes, birds, reptiles,and tree species among others. Chimpanzee trekking has been the top activity in this park since 1993 and it starts with a briefing at park headquarters. READ MORE

Bugoma Forest

Bugoma forest is situated on the Southwestern side of Hoima and is home to about 500 chimpanzees. Different primates including red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others can be found in this area. It is an ideal destination for chimpanzee trekking and small forest elephants can be seen during the trek.

Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Gorge is located near Queen Elizabeth National Park and was created as a buffer zone to avoid human encroachment. It is home to many primate species like chimpanzees, baboons, vervet monkeys, and many more.

The best time to go for a primate safari in Uganda

 Primate safaris in Uganda can be carried out throughout the year however, the best time to go is during the dry season. The period from June to September and December to February is considered the best time for trekking primates. This is because there is little or no rainfall in the parks making it easier to sight primates and the terrain is easy to maneuver.

Where to obtain trekking permits

Every traveler interested in trekking primates must obtain a permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. This permit can be obtained through a licensed travel agent or purchased directly from UWA. It is advised to purchase these permits at least two months or three months before the trek since they are very competitive and a limited number of tourists are allowed to trek in a day.