Chimpanzee Trekking in Semuliki National Park Uganda
Semuliki national park is endowed with a variety of attractions; found in the western Albertine Rift valley on the Uganda and DR Congo’s western border. There are various activities one can take part in while in the park and chimpanzee tracking is among the many.
Chimpanzee tracking or trekking is an awesome and exciting experience that involves movement of visitors (trekkers) through the forests to look for and observe Chimpanzees in their habitat. Uganda is endowed with over 5700 Chimpanzees that live in the western part and they are distributed in various areas like Kibale National park, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth and not leaving out the Semuliki National park.
There are around 250 chimpanzees in the Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve and most of them are under a study/research by the Indiana University, but they are still accessible for trekking. A number of chimpanzees are under habituation which eases tracking them.
Chimpanzees are amazing animals, the males in most cases grow to 1.7 meters high and are 70kg in weight; the female chimpanzees are smaller than the males. They have hierarchies they follow in most cases every group is led by the dominant male chimpanzee called the Alpha male. They share around 98% of the human DNA, the live in families, and societies with leaders, they can make solutions for any problems, they function with sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and other non-verbal communications just like humans. In fact the main distinction between them and humans is just that they don’t speak!
Chimpanzee tracking /habituation in Semuliki National park is not as strenuous as tracking gorillas, since the landscape in Semuliki is not so rugged. Hence tracking them needs no experience or fitness, though there are cases where moving fast in the forests is need and also a bit of running if you are to catch up with these animals. Also chimpanzees can be seen trying to move just as human beings in the open grasslands especially when they are in search of food, this an amazing experience watching them do such in the wild.
On the day of trekking chimpanzees, visitors need to be briefed by the rangers/guides about the behaviors of the chimpanzees, what to do and what to expect. Trackers are organized in groups of 8 and can have one hour with the Chimpanzees. There is nothing as amazing as watching your closets relatives in the wild play, eat, take care of others, make nests among other things.
Chimpanzees in Semuliki are not as many as those in Kibale National Park hence there will be need of moving further to look for them just in case they are not in the nearby places, but with this there is nothing to worry about since as you trek you are led by rangers who are more informed about them and where to find them.
Trekkers need to wear long sleeved shirts since it is to move in the forests, carry enough bottled drinking water, packed lunch, water proof cameras, hats and other things as told by your guides.
There are also other things you can see during the trek or after such as birds including the hornbills, the Sempaya hot springs and other primate species like the black and white colobus monkeys, the red tailed monkey, and the grey-cheeked monkeys.
Note: People under the age of 16 are not allowed to track Chimpanzee in Uganda.