Primates

gorilla-trackingUganda is home to a wide variety of primates. The endangered mountain gorillas are perhaps the most famous (and utterly enchanting) but we also have some of Africa’s largest populations of chimpanzees and you can also track Golden Monkeys and see a variety of other primates at locations around the country.

See below for more information on primate tracking & viewing options and discounted permits.

see our primate itineraries for inspiration
 Baboon  Grey Cheeked Mangabey  Red Tailed Monkey Black & White Colobus
 Red Colobus Monkey  Blue Monkey  Vervet Monkey Patas Monkey
 L'Hoest monkey  IMG_4309

If you tell us what you are interested in, we can design a safari to incorporate opportunities to see them but please remember, these are wild animals and, while we use experts to guide you, sightings cannot be guaranteed.

Gorilla tracking 

gorilla-trackingAt 8am on the day of tracking, you will receive a briefing at the park HQ and be allocated to a group (max 8 people + guides) tracking a particular gorilla family. It may take 2-6 hours to find them depending on where they slept, how fast they are moving, the terrain and the fitness of group members. Once you find them, you are allowed to spend one hour with them watching them eat, play, groom, relax or move through the forest. No flash photography is allowed. Gorilla tracking is such a special privilege and you are sure to leave in awe of these gentle giants. Few experiences can beat a Silverback trusting you enough to allow you to spend time with his family and to look these creatures in the eye and observe their movements is a memory to treasure.

  • Fitness – most people can track gorillas. Your tour operator can select a sector of the forest with easier terrain if necessary and on the day you can be allocated to the nearest gorilla family if you are less fit or have mobility problems.
  • Porters and walking sticks can be hired locally.
  • The chance of actually seeing gorillas is over 95%.
  • You cannot track if you are ill (including colds/flu) to avoid the transmission of diseases to the gorillas.
  • Tracking takes a full day but, if you are lucky and find them quickly, there is lots more to see and do in the area.
  • Children must be 15+ years to track.

Please read the Uganda Wildlife Authority, ‘Gorilla Rules‘.

Chimpanzee tracking
ChimpChimp tracking can be done in the morning (8am) or afternoon (2 pm) and takes around 3-4 hours. You will join a group and walk through the forest with your guide enjoying the sights and sounds until you find the chimps. Then you have one hour to watch them go about their business. The chances of actually seeing chimps are high, at over 90%. Discounted tracking permits are offered in April, May and November, subject to availability.

Full day chimp habituation experience
ChimpsEnter the forest, in a small group, before dawn to find the chimps where they nested the night before. Then spend the day with them, in their natural setting and learn all about their behaviour and how to identify the individual chimps. This is a long and tiring day but a very special and rewarding experience. Habituation helps the chimps to get used to people so tourists can track them and researchers can observe them. Tourism helps to protect the chimps and ensure their survival.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Chimp in Kibale forestNgamba Island, safe in the waters of Lake Victoria, is home to a number of orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued from various locations throughout Uganda. The island is run by the Chimpanzee Trust which cares for the chimps, works in conservation education and offers visitor experiences to raise funds.

This 100-acre island can be reached by boat and activities include:

  • half and full-day visits: learning about the project, hearing from caregivers and viewing feeding times
  • overnight stays in furnished tents
  • caregiver experiences with the chance to participate in feeding, research, medical checks and more
  • fishing trips on the lake
  • bird, and evening fruit bat, watching
  • long stay visits (1-2 weeks)
  • 3 and 6 day photography workshops

Note: to avoid passing illnesses to the chimps, some one-on-one experiences with the chimps require you to provide evidence of health checks and vaccinations. We can provide more advice on this.

Discounted tracking permits

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is offering gorilla and chimp tracking permits at discounted prices in April, May and November 2016, giving savings of between USD 50 and  150.

Golden Monkey Tracking

Golden Monkey Golden Monkey tracking is done in Mgahinga Gorilla national park which, as the name suggests, is also home to a family of endangered mountain gorillas (more gorilla families can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable national park). Mgahinga is also known for its three extinct volcanoes, Mt. Gahinga [3,474m], Mt. Sabinyo [3,669m] and Mt. Muhavura [4,127m], which form part of the Virunga Volcano Range that extends into Rwanda and Congo.

Tracking the Golden Monkeys takes you through former farm land and into the bamboo zone on Mt. Gahinga. The trail includes steep parts and flatter parts and can be quite slippery but the park rangers will accompany you and go at your pace and provide walking sticks. Tracking takes around 4 hours and you may see forest buffalo , duiker and a variety of birds along the way as well as enjoying spectacular views.

When you find the monkeys, spend time observing them and taking photos. They are habituated and quite tolerant of humans so good viewings are possible.

Visitors with more stamina and more time may want to consider visiting other sectors of the forest to see the different vegetation zones, the caldera and views of the beautiful Lake Mutanda and there is always the option of hiking on the other peaks. You can also visit the Batwa ‘forest pigmy’ tribe, traditionally known as the ‘forest keepers’.