Day 1 & 2 : Chimpanzee Tracking
After a late arrival in Entebbe and early departure, we set off west across Uganda. A lot of dirt roads later and we arrive in time to have our packed lunch at Kibale Forest Park Headquarters before we set off for our first Uganda primate tracking experience!
Kibale Forest National Park, 795 km2, is home to 375 species of bird and 70 mammal species including 13 species of primates such as black and white Colobus monkeys and grey cheeked Mangabey as well as having the highest concentration of chimpanzees in Africa. Setting off from Kanyanchu visitor centre we delve into the forest with our guide and tracker. The forest trails are also home to safari ants and we are advised to keep our trousers tucked into our socks to keep them out! Our guide keeps up a constant flow of information about the trees, insects and animals of Kibale Forest while we are searching for our quarry. The chimps keep us on the move today as we go deeper into the forest. Our trek takes us over swampy areas with decaying walkways, off the path and through the undergrowth. When we are almost ready to give up and think that we are not destined to meet the chimps of Kibale, we hear their hooting breaking the quiet of the forest. They are still high up in the giant trees and looking for their dinner. A large male descends to the forest floor where we can follow his progress searching out the fallen fruit in the fading light. In one last bright spot with a little light breaking through the canopy he sits and poses for us on a fallen tree. Looking left and right, like he knew we were trying to get his good angle.
Completely relaxed while the cameras click away, he watches us with aloof interest.
The light fades and he moves off back towards his troupe and we are left to reflect on the walk out of the forest on our last minute luck and being so close to this regal creature.
Slightly muddy and exhausted we arrive at Ndali Lodge were we are spending the night. Looking out across the Rwenzori Mountains, this colonial retreat is set high up on a crater lake. From the swimming pool the vistas across the mountains can keep you entertained for days and it turns out you can get a perfect “New York” Martini here!