Chimpanzee in the Kyambura Gorge, Uganda

Where do chimps live? And where can I see them in the wild?

Jun 7, 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

Chimps live in various parts of Equatorial Africa. There are several countries you can visit to see chimps living in the wild, but we advise you to head to Rwanda, Uganda or Tanzania for a safe and memorable chimpanzee trek!

Where do chimps live?

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) โ€“ or chimps for short โ€“ are endangered great apes that live exclusively in equatorial Africa (not counting those in captivity).

Africa map showing distribution of chimps

Map showing distribution of chimps

There are (debatably) four subspecies of chimp, each with its own location:

  • Western chimps live in the bulge of Africa
  • Eastern chimps live in the DRC and East Africa
  • Central chimps live in western central Africa
  • Elliot's chimps live in the Gulf of Guinea
Wild chimpanzee on tree, Zambia

Chimps spend the majority of their time up in trees

Chimps spend most of their time up in the trees, though they do come down to the ground too. They usually walk on all fours, but incredibly can walk upright like humans for about a mile!

Chimps are incredibly adaptable when it comes to their habitat. They can live at sea level or as high as about 3,000 m (9,800 ft) above sea level. And they can live in rainforest, savannah woodland or mangrove forest. The main thing is just that they have good access to water and some trees in which to sleep.

Where can I see chimps in the wild?

You need to head to one of the parks and reserves of equatorial Africa and go on a chimpanzee trek to see these magnificent apes in the wild.

Group of Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes on mangrove branches. Mother-chimpanzee sits and holds on hands of the cub. Congo

A group of chimps is usually called a troop, community, family or harem

Where exactly you go depends on the subspecies you wish to see. What we can tell you is that most folks head to East Africa to see eastern chimps as these countries are generally safer and have well-developed tourism infrastructure.

More specifically, the nations of Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania all offer well-established and organised chimpanzee tracking experiences that prioritise the apes' well-being. Their chimp tracking hikes are led by qualified guides who take you to meet a habituated troop. What's more, you're always pretty much guaranteed to able to find and spend time with some chimps!

Chimpanzee tracking is an incredible experience and our guests invariably come away from the hike with indelible memories.

As always, please feel free to contact us with any queries and we'll happily advise you!