The familiar social behaviors of primates capture the hearts and minds of travelers who choose to go in search of monkeys and apes around the World.
Unlike any other wildlife encounter, there is an unmistakable connection when watching primates – the line between observers and observed is at its most blurred. There are few more poignant wildlife encounters than sitting peacefully with a family of mountain gorillas in the forests of Uganda or Rwanda.
Watching primates feed in the wilds of the Pearl of Africa, tracking Golden monkeys in Mgahinga National Park of Uganda and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda, listening to the ear-piercing call of the Gorillas during either a Uganda or Rwanda Gorilla Trek and Chimpanzees in the Kibale Forest of Uganda or Nyungwe and Giswati Mukula National parks of Rwands is just a few experience that you will never get anywhere in the World.
Between the boundaries of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo, is the only place where you can explore the vast jungles which is home to a variety of primates with Kibale National Park containing the highest density in all of Africa.
As well as the chimpanzee and gorilla, the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, l’Hoest’s and blue monkeys, and olive baboons can be seen during treks or nature walks, along with smaller nocturnal species such as the bushbaby, galagoes and potto among others.
Mgahinga National Park also contains one of the last remaining habitats of the endangered Golden monkey.
The dog-like baboons live in large groups and are regularly seen along roadsides where they wait to ambush cars in search of food. They spend more time on the ground than most other primate species, but sleep in trees at night. If water is scarce, they can survive for long periods by licking the dew from their fur.
Viewing mountain gorillas is billed as one of the top wildlife experiences on the planet. But in both Uganda and Rwanda, they’re not the only ape to see; but the only places in the world where you can see gorillas, wild chimpanzees and the golden monkeys.
Nat Geo Wild has always recommended this as a lifetime journey into the lush hills of Uganda and Rwanda to encounter chimpanzees and mountain gorillas in the wild.
Travelers get the chance to observe chimpanzees with a primatologist, and track gorillas in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park or Virunga of Democratic Republic of Congo while stay in stunning lodges, from a lakeside bungalow at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains to a hilltop eco-lodge with spectacular views of Rwanda’s volcanoes and Uganda’s astonishing creatures.
Much as Africa is not a continent one immediately associates with ice. Mountain is one of the three places that proudly boast some of the world’s most majestic glaciers.
Rwenzori has been dubbed the “African Alps,” the “Mountains of the Moon” and the “snowy source of the Nile” (the latter two descriptors were ascribed in 150 A.D. by noted astrologer and geographer Claudius Ptolemy). A number of travelers flavor their primates’ experience with a yet another spectacular adventure, Rwenzori trekking where they hike the glaciated highest block mountains of Africa.
Mountain gorillas roam the steep mountain forests of four national parks across Uganda, Rwanda, and DR of the Congo, at elevations in the range of around 8,000 to 13,000 feet—about the same altitude from which a skydiver jumps out of a plane.
Over 500 wild gorillas live in the Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park accounting for nearly half the world’s population. Interesting!
The park also boasts more than 160 species of trees.
In groups ranging from 10 and above, mountain gorillas usually move from one place to another over the forested mountains looking for fresh plant leaves, wild fruits and bamboo shoots as well as new places for building nests for resting during the night.
The largest of all the great apes, gorillas can be up to six feet tall and weigh more than 400 pounds, need to covert this with an arm span of eight feet.
They achieve this impressive stature on a mostly vegetarian diet of roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, and tree bark and pulp foraged in the thick forests of their habitat. Their massive jaw muscles help them chew tough vegetation.
Tourists on mountain Gorilla safaris seeking to encounter mountain gorilla’s head to Rwanda’s volcanoes national park or Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Forests.
They are usually divided into trekking groups of 8 allocated to a guide and then directed through the forested mountains as they search for the gorillas.
For Uganda, Gorilla tracking generates a steady increasing stream of revenue for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It’s estimated the direct total income from gorilla visits in the Bwindi Park is $15 million a year.
Golden monkeys remain in Uganda, Rwanda and parts of the Virunga forest in DR Congo which borders with both countries. They live in groups ranging between 30 and more and also feed on plant leaves, wild fruits and shoots.
Tracking golden monkeys also offers great primate tracking experiences and gives you a chance to also encounter a number of other wildlife species in the forests especially the birds. They are mainly tracked in Rwanda and many go see these Old-world monkey family species mostly after Gorilla Trekking in the Volcanoes National Park.
Chimpanzees in Rwanda can be best viewed in Nyungwe forest national park located in southwestern Rwanda. Just as mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, chimpanzees also live in groups of their close relatives.
They are very mobile animals that move from one to place to another over tree branches. Chimpanzee tracking is very adventurous because if you are interested in getting up close with them, you have to try to keep up with their pace as you move through the real African jungle. Some people think that having a safari in an African jungle is very impossible but they are very wrong. Wildlife safaris in Rwanda in particular and African jungles at large are very exciting and unforgettable.
For the Best Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda, it is Kibale Forest that wins hands-down.