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Chimpanzees are one of the most fascinating wild animals in the world. Due to their close relationship with humans, seeing chimps is quite exciting.

Chimpanzees are very adaptable and can live in many environments. This is why they can be seen in almost all zoos around the world. For the real chimpanzee experience, one would need to see chimps in their wild natural habitat.

chimpanzee in the forest

Where Do Chimps Live In Africa?

Chimpanzees can be found in the rainforests and savannahs of equatorial Africa - from Senegal in the west to Uganda in the East. Chimpanzees live in evergreen rainforests where they can feed on the available diversity of plants.

Chimpanzees live in the wild places of the following African countries.

  •  Senegal
  •  Guinea
  • Sierra leone
  • Mali
  •  Liberia
  • Cote D'Ivore
  • Ghana
  •  Nigeria
  • Cameroon
  • Equatorial Guinea
  •  Gabon
  • Congo (Brazaville)
  • Angola (Cabinda Exclave) 
  •  D.R.Congo 
  • Central African Republic 
  • South Sudan
  •  Uganda
  • Rwanda
  • Burundi
  •  Tanzania

While chimpanzees live freely in the wild in all the above 20 countries, the distributions differ depending on many factors. Peace and stability are major issues in some of the countries listed above.

Therefore, the countries you can realistically visit and see chimpanzees in the wild are Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. In these countries, the tourism infrastructure is well-developed, the countries are politically stable, and the chimpanzees are already used to seeing tourists regularly.

Chimpanzee Wild Habitat Map

Here is a map showing all the areas in Africa where Chimpanzees live freely in the wild.

Best Place To See Chimps In The Wild

While chimps live in many places, you will need to visit Uganda, Rwanda, or Tanzania for a chance to see chimpanzees in their wild natural habitat. The tourism infrastructure in these countries is well-developed and tourists can visit these natural places and easily see chimpanzees.

chimps grooming in gombe np

Where To See Chimps In Uganda

Uganda has several tourist attractions that are home to chimpanzees. This has made it the go-to place for tourists who are interested in getting up close encounters with chimps in the wild.

In Uganda, you can find chimpanzees in the following national parks and protected areas.

 Kibale National Park
 2   Budongo Forest Reserve
3  Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park
4  Kalinzu Forest Reserve
5  Semuliki Valley
6  Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctaury

The best place to see chimpanzees in Uganda is Kibale National Park which is home to the biggest concentration of chimpanzees in the wild. Most of the tourists who visit Uganda for chimpanzees go to Kibale where you are 99.9% guaranteed to see chimps in their natural home.

Besides Kibale, Budongo, Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu are also good alternatives. The experience will be different because the chimp populations are smaller in these places.

In the Semuliki Valley of Semuliki National Park, chimpanzees can sometimes be hard to track due to the steep terrain and cliffs.

The Ngamba Island Sanctuary is located in Lake Victoria and is a home for rescued or orphaned chimpanzees. While the habitat is not purely natural, the chimps roam the rainforest freely since they have their own island.

Where To See Chimps In Rwanda

In Rwanda, chimpanzee tracking can be done in 2 places - Nyungwe Forest and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks. The most popular location for seeing chimpanzees in Rwanda is the Nyungwe Forest National Park.

The chimpanzee populations in Rwanda are quite small and therefore, the chances of seeing them are slightly lower when compared to Uganda's Kibale.

nyungwe canopy walk with visitors

Nyungwe's high canopy walkway and vibrant birdlife are still worth visiting, and the primate tracking experience always has so much to learn about the forest, the history and the other animals in the parks.

Gishwati-Mukura is a new national park established in 2015. And while the conservation goals are still in a very early stage, a visit to the park could be quite exciting for the extremely curious guest.

Where To See Chimps In Tanzania

In Tanzania, chimpanzees are only found in the 2 national parks of Gombe and Mahale Mountains. The parks are located close to each other in western Tanzania - just by Lake Tanganyika.

The best place to go for chimpanzee tracking in Tanzania is Gombe Stream National Park. The history of the park and what that means for conservation is a rightful bias on our side.

hunting chimp in Gombe np

For the more curious traveller who loves conservation, you should know that Gombe Stream National Park is the place where Dr Jane Goodall started her research on chimpanzees and their behaviour. 

These attractions in western Tanzania are quite isolated from popular attractions such as Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, and Zanzibar. This means that the infrastructure is not as developed. This also means they are ideal for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Tanzania.

Final Thoughts.

While chimpanzees can be found in many parts of Africa, their numbers have been reducing and most places have very small populations. Tourism and research play a big role in contributing to the conservation of chimps.

For you to go into the wild and see chimps, some things need to be in place. The chimpanzees have to be habituated and used to seeing humans. This is for your safety deep in the rainforests.

The places mentioned above can safely be visited for chimpanzee tracking, and you have great chances of seeing the chimps live their regular lives in their natural habitat.

Uganda would be the ultimate recommendation if you want to see chimpanzees in the wild but the choice should be based on your preference.