Uganda is justly famous for being one of the finest places on the planet to view the magnificent and critically endangered Mountain Gorilla; however, they are not the only exciting wildlife highlight awaiting you. Another of the world’s Great Apes – the Chimpanzee – is available here as well, and the lush green forests of Kibale National Park offer an incredible opportunity to spend time with these fabulous primates in their natural habitat.
Chimpanzees are only found in tropical Africa and typically frequent rainforest environments. They usually spend their time up in the rainforest canopy in close-knit family groups, where they do most of their feeding and grooming. Chimps have an extensive diet range, and while fruits and plant matter make up the bulk of it, they will also occasionally take insects, eggs and even small mammals like other monkeys. With such a complex eating plan, mothers are known to nurse their young for 5 years while they learn what they should and shouldn’t eat.
With a 98% genetic match to humans, they are one of our closest living relatives, while the similar Bonobo – an endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – is also an extremely close relative to humans, and was considered to be a subspecies of Chimpanzee until 1933. This relation means they have also gradually learned how to make and use tools like stones to crack nuts, twigs to get insects and honey from hard to reach places, spears to kill small mammals, and leaves to use as sponges or to drink water. Interestingly, different subspecies and even troops have differing tool knowledge, and traditions are passed down from generation to generation, just like human families and cultures. And the similarities to us don’t stop there; they have emotions such as joy, anger, pleasure, and boredom, are capable of using facial expressions, and even when needed comfort each other by embracing and kissing.
Unfortunately, Chimpanzees have become increasingly endangered due to extensive habitat loss and poaching throughout their range. Just 100 years ago, Chimp numbers were sitting at over 1 million, which is in stark contrast to the current estimated figures. Surveys reveal approximately only 170 000 are left in the wild today, which highlights a tragic and rapid decline. Uganda still has a relatively impressive population of roughly 5 000 chimps. This is now the second-largest in the world, with the DRC having the largest population. Eco-tourism is now one of the best ways to directly offer increased protection to this endangered species, and in many locations such as Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, there are excellent chances of finding Chimpanzees in the wild. Another key player in Chimpanzee protection for many years has been Jane Goodall, who has dedicated her life to saving Chimpanzees and other primates. In Uganda specifically, she has been instrumental in working with the communities surrounding the national parks in areas such as Masindi, Kibale and the Budongo Forest Reserve, where significant numbers of Chimpanzees still thrive.
Our carefully crafted Uganda itineraries take in the very best wildlife viewing sites in the country, from Queen Elizabeth National Park which is home to Lions, Leopard, African Elephant and Giant Forest Hog to the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is THE location to go trekking for the charismatic Mountain Gorilla. Our itineraries also include Kibale National Park, which is arguably the number one site on the planet to get up close and personal with a wild group of Chimpanzee. Kibale is also home to an extraordinary number of other primates, including Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Central African Red Colobus, L’Hoest’s and Red-tailed Monkeys and the tiny Thomas’s and Demidoff’s Galagos. Uganda also offers up an incredible selection of beautiful birds and eye-catching species, such as the celebrated Shoebill, Narina Trogon and Great Blue Turaco.
Join us next year in Uganda for an unforgettable experience.
Uganda – Primates & Big Game
20 – 31 May 2020 (12 days)
Tour Price: US$6950