GORILLAS, CHIMPS & MORE
No visit to Africa is complete without a unique primate encounter; from the last remaining Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda to the cheeky chimpanzees of Tanzania.
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park hosts 9 of the habituated Mountain Gorilla families and Uganda’s magical Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to 7 habituated Gorilla families.Trekking with Gorillas is a truly unique experience which could be incorporated as part of your holiday or a bigger safari adventure in Africa. Can there be a more magical, awe-inspiring and emotional wildlife experience than tracking some of the last few remaining Mountain Gorillas and observing these magnificent primates in their natural habitat?
Chimps in Uganda’s Kibale National Park and Chambura Gorge are especially rewarding and the Mahale Mountains in Tanzania provide a breathtaking spot to not only track chimpanzees, but to experience the magic of Lake Tanganyika. Rwanda is home to an array of primates including Golden Monkeys, Chimpanzees and Black & White Colobus Monkeys offering a truly unique primate safari experience.
Rwanda Primate Safaris
Rwanda is well known as a primate safari destination. It is renowned not just for its Mountain Gorillas but also for many other species of primate including Colobus Monkeys, Golden Monkeys and Chimpanzees.
Volcanoes National Park is world famous for its rich biodiversity and of course, its Mountain Gorillas. It was the first National Park to be created in Africa in the magnificent Virunga Mountains. Situated on the border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda the park consist of six Volcanoes and a dense expanse of mountain forest. It’s one of only three places in the world where you may meet these majestic mammals. The trekking in Rwanda can be less strenuous than other countries and the bamboo forests are easier to hike in and provide better photography opportunites opposed to denser forest found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.
Nyungwe National Park located in south west Rwanda is one of the worlds most beautiful and pristine mountain forests. Home to over 400 habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primate species including the Black & White Colobus Monkey, it’s also a birders paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics.
GORILLA TRACKING IN RWANDA
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as a “life changing” experience. With only an estimated 800 gorillas left in the world, seeing these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a very special experience.
Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. A trek in the mountains can last anywhere from just 30 minutes to over 4 hours depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. You will be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully habituated families of Mountain Gorillas and be able to stay with them for one awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the Gorillas go about their daily lives.
Porters are available to carry your bags and cameras as well as assisting you with your footing along the trek. At present, Gorilla permits in Rwanda are USD 1,500 per person. The permit offers you one hour with the mountain gorillas in a group of 8 to 10 people. Please note, the minimum age to trek is 15yrs and there are limited permits available each day.
OTHER PRIMATES IN RWANDA
Aside from the Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda is home to an array of other primates.
Golden Monkeys – Although the Gorillas steal the show, the endemic Golden Monkeys found in the rainforests of the Virunga Mountains are striking, playful primates and due to the large habituated groups, the quality of sightings is superb.
Chimpanzees – Ngungwe Forest is home to over 400 chimpanzees. Chimp trekking can be done year-round and a fairly straightforward hike through the forest will often lead you to these fascinating creatures.
Black & White Colobus Monkeys – These charismatic creatures found in Nyungwe Forest take up the final place in Rwanda’s Big-4 primate species. They live in sizeable groups making an encounter with Colobus Monkeys higher than anywhere else in Africa.
Other Primates – Other species found in Rwanda’s national parks include Red Tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Owl Faced Monkeys, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and Bush babies amongst others.
Uganda Primate Safaris
Uganda is the land of the “Big 7”, where the popular African ‘Big 5’ i.e. Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino, shares a home with the most significant 2 of the world’s 4 Great Apes; the rare Eastern Mountain Gorilla and man’s genetically closest relative the Chimpanzee.
In Uganda’s 10 protected and fully accessible National Parks you will find hundreds of different mammal species in their multitudes. These include Olive Baboons, Black and White as well as Red Collobus Monkeys and many other species amidst the most luscious, fertile and green National Parks to be found anywhere in Africa.
GORILLA TRACKING IN UGANDA
When it comes to adventure, nothing beats a coming face to face with a giant Mountain Gorilla silverback, eight times the power of a grown man, in its natural habitat. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest which lies in the south west corner of the country is best known for its superb gorilla tracking being home to roughly half of the worlds mountain gorillas. It also provides refuge to elephant, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope and bird species.
Following breakfast, you will transfer to the national park offices where you will be allocated a gorilla family as well as a gorilla tracking guide. After a pre-tracking briefing by your guide you drive to the trail head for the start of a thrilling adventure. Expect to walk between 2 and 8 hours in steep and sometimes muddy conditions with rain overhead, which can be tough and require a degree of (average) fitness. However the thrill of coming face to face with a giant Mountain Gorilla silverback completely makes up for the effort! Upon sighting the gorillas, you will spend one hour with them as they go about their daily life; feeding, moving, playing, raising their young and sometimes wrestling with the juveniles – it is a totally unique and unforgettable experience. At present, Gorilla permits in Uganda are USD 600 per person. The permit offers you one hour with the mountain gorillas in a group of 8 to 10 people.
CHIMP TRACKING IN UGANDA
Kibale Forest National Park is reputable of having the greatest variety and highest concentration of primates in East Africa. An encounter with the over 100 strong family of chimpanzees here must rank as the truest definition of ‘a walk on the wild side.’
After a pre-tracking briefing at walking distance from your accommodation, you will start your hike adventure into the forest. Follow the footsteps of a large habituated family of chimpanzees, with over 120 individuals, that has made Kibale one of the best locations in Africa for chimp viewing.
En route your guide will explain more about the forest and the other inhabitants, including other primates and birds such as the blue breasted Kingfisher, black billed Turaco, Pied Hornbill, Chestnut winged Starlings and many more. Upon sighting the chimpanzees, you will stay with them for one unforgettable hour as they continue their daily routine – growling, grooming, feeding, taking care of the young ones and agilely climbing up trees. It certainly is one unforgettable wildlife encounter and the hour is always over too soon.
Tanzania Primate Safaris
CHIMP TRACKING IN TANZANIA
Tanzania is lesser known as a primate safari destination. On the western reaches of the country is the Mahale Mountains National Park, home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees. The Chimpanzees of Mahale have remained relatively unknown compared to those in Uganda and Rwanda.
Some chimpanzee groups have been habituated to human presence but tourism in Mahale has been kept to a minimum, adding to the feeling of remoteness. The Park is accessible all year round however, tracking the chimps of Mahale is a magical experience and is best in the dry season (May – October).