Chimpanzees in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are by far a few most fascinating creatures to catch a glimpse while on Uganda safari. They are second biggest species of primates in the world after mountain gorillas with about 98 percent of their DNA same to that of humans making them our closest relatives in the wild. Chimpanzees are divided into two; the common chimpanzees and the bonobos species. Bwindi National Park consists of the common chimpanzee species (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) and they account for over 400 individuals out of 5050 chimpanzees in Uganda. This makes Bwindi Impenetrable National Park the only gorilla destination in the world where mountain gorillas and chimpanzees share the same habitat.
While on Uganda safari, chimpanzees in Bwindi National Park can be spotted in Buhoma area in the north and Nkuringo sector in the south. Unlike other chimpanzee destinations, chimpanzees in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are not habituated but they are more visible compared to even mountain gorillas. There are many reasons why chimpanzees in Bwindi National Park are not habituated. First, it is believed that there are many better sites with many chimpanzees compared to Bwindi National Park and they include among others Kibale Forest National Park with over 1500 chimpanzees, Budongo Forest, Maramagambo Forest. Meaning, it is possible habituate a portion of these creatures and also leave some for research or in their natural status.
Considering the altitudinal level, chimpanzees in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park thrive in the highland rain-forest which is not a case with Kibale National Park which is a bit in a lowland area. Because they roam from place to place, exploring them in the wild becomes more challenging than if you tracked them in Kibale National Park or Budongo Forest.
Quick facts about chimpanzees
A mature common chimpanzee weighs between 40 and 60kgs and has a height of 1.6m whereas a mature female weigh from 32 to 47kgs and has a height of 1.3m. They have a coarse black hair apart from the toes, palms, face, fingers and soles of their feet. Generally, chimpanzees have firm grip due their unique thumbs and big toes which are opposite to each other. They thrive in communities with a dominant male known as the alpha male being the leader.
The alpha male is considered the strongest male and he is responsible for defending/safeguarding other members from danger, intruders and also lead them to areas to feed in the course of the day. Chimpanzees get to puberty stage at around 10 to 12 years and a female adult can give birth to about 4 to 6 babies.
Chimpanzees make new nests every day for them to spend a night. The nests are set up using twigs, leaves and tree branches. While searching for them, the nests are in most cases used to help locate these creatures. Their lifespan ranges up to 40 years while in the wild and 50 years in captivity. These apes have gestation period of about 8 months like humans.
Other primate species to see in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers refuge to not only mountain gorillas and chimpanzees but also to other primate species including L’Hoest monkeys, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys.
Getting to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies suitably in the southwestern Uganda; Kisoro, Kabale and Kanungu districts. There are two options for you to get to this park-either by road or by air. By road, you need 8-10 hours to drive depending on the route but your journey can start from Entebbe or Kampala via Kabale route or make it short by flying into Kigali then connect via Katuna or Chanika border about 4 hours’ drive in a good 4×4 drive safari car.
Or fly from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip then drive to Bwindi National Park.