Uganda is known for being one of three countries in the world where the Mountain Gorillas live but it might be less known that we are blessed with another fascinating primate as well, the Chimpanzees. One of the places they can be found is in Kibale Forest National Park where there are chimps who have been habituated for visitors to see. Chimps trekking is as well possible in Budongo Forest (Murchison Falls NP), Kyambura Gorge (Queen Elizabeth NP) and Kalinzu Forest (close to Queen Elizabeth NP).
During my first visit to Uganda I took the chance to do chimps trekking in Kibale Forest NP. We started the day with early breakfast and then set off to the starting point of the trek. After being introduced to our guide we were given a briefing on how to behave in the forest and in the meeting with the chimps. The group consisted of six people and the guide. We set off in to the dense forest and this early on there were still paths to walk on. Just a few meters after starting the chimps trekking the guide pointed out something new to us; crossing the path in front of us were a line of ants and he warned us to not step in their way. These were safari ants and if you make the mistake of stepping in their path they will all get defensive and crawl up and bite you. Luckily we all managed to avoid the ants and continued on. Our first sighting of a chimp came just a few minutes later. It was a lone chimp sitting up in a tree feasting on some fruits. It was fascinating to be so close and we stayed there studying it for some time.
The guide then got a tip off on where there were more chimps and we started heading in that direction. The trek soon took us away from the paths and we walked through the jungle, having huge trees and lianas climbing around us. Reaching the point where there were supposed to be more chimps we learned that it can be tricky to spot them even though you know they are there. We heard chimps calling out all around us so for sure we knew they were there but at first we did not see them. The guide soon solved this and spotted several of them so we got a good view of these close cousins of ours. We could still hear more chimps than we saw and it was a strange feeling to know they for sure saw us but we didn’t see all of them. We stayed around the area where they were for some time and it was amazing to study them up close.
When it was time to leave the guide lead us to the point where our car would pick us up, the trek had taken us to a point that it would be too far to walk back. We reached the road, tired after a long hike but happy with the unique experience of chimps trekking in Kibale Forest.