There are very few places where you can see primates in the wild; the world’s largest primates survive in what remains of their natural habitat, in the last protected stretches of Africa’s central rain forest. The best countries to see these endangered creatures are Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania. Primates capture hearts of people around the world, so the thrill of these beautiful cousins is one of the reasons why travelers choose to come to Uganda for primate safari tour holidays. Endangered primates now occupy perhaps the most prominent place in the public eye as far as endangered animals.
Uganda’s biggest tourist draw is the endangered mountain gorillas but these aren’t the country’s only great apes; chimpanzees are also great for Uganda. The experience of meeting chimpanzees and gorillas in the wild can be truly beautiful; coming face to face with an intelligent and thoughtful is really unlike any other animal encounter on an African safari holiday.
With less than 800 remaining in the wild, mountain gorillas are one of the world’s greatest heart-breaking wild stories. These apes are cherished for their peaceful, gentle and beautiful brown eyes and viewing them at very close range gives you a life time unforgettable experience. Mountain gorillas are found in two separate locations: the Virunga range of extinct volcanic mountains on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda.
Approximately half of the mountain gorilla population now lives in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park declared as UNESCO world heritage site. Uganda’s mountain gorillas offer wildlife lovers and life enhancing travel experience, while tracking them is our main focus with a permit costing $600 per person less than that of Rwanda which costs $1500 per person per trek.
The most famous safari destinations in Uganda are the country’s primate reserves. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park along with Kibale Forest National Park offer visitors the unforgettable opportunity to get a close look at gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates in their natural habitats. The chance to get close to these animals in their natural habitats making it an once-in-a-lifetime experience, but your trip to the Africa is more than a trip to the zoo.
Another incredible African primate destination for mountain gorillas is the Virunga National Park offering budget gorilla tours in Congo and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda a research home of the late Dian Fossey.
Mountain gorillas spend a substantial portion of their days eating. The time schedule seen in the wild sees foraging in early morning, followed by an early-afternoon rest, followed by more feeding until night, and then overnight rest. Mountain gorillas build new nests to sleep in every night from surrounding vegetation. While they typically wake with the sunrise, on colder and overcast-days they tend to linger longer in their nests before leaving.
In addition to gorillas, Kibale Forest National Park has over 1500 chimpanzees habituated to human presence. The park has the greatest density of primates in East Africa making it a wonderful addition to any wildlife safari itinerary especially if you’re visiting the endangered mountain gorillas. Kibale might be the most popular place in Uganda to view chimps but there are other alternative chimp experiences in other parks and reserves which include; Budongo Forest Reserve at Murchison Falls Conservation area, Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu Forest Reserve in Queen Elizabeth Park, Toro- Semliki Wildlife Reserve, and Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Island. In Rwanda there are habituated chimps in Nyungwe Forest National Park, they are easily connected to mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park.
A total of 13 primate species are found Kibale Forest aside from chimp including; the black and white colobus monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, bush babies, olive baboon, potto, and blue monkeys among others. This means that your trek can last from under an hour to several hours depending on their movements in the forest. Therefore a certain level of fitness is needed to cope although you don’t need to be very fit.
The exciting moments with these primates will leave you with no other option but to be active with your cameras to make memorable photos and videos as you observe their daily, interactions as they play, fight and care for each other with astonishingly humane movements. Due to the risks of passing on human colds or other illnesses to the chimpanzees, it is essential that you are in good health condition for you to be able to see the gorillas.
Chimpanzee tracking permit during the high season cost $150, and for the low season cost $100 and we recommend planning at least 3 months in advance most especially during the dry season. For those who want more in depth, you can arrive at the park’s visitor centre in the pre-dawn gloom to set out on the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience which goes at $220. This guarantees a full day with the chimps. Budget Gorilla Trekking designs perfect chimpanzee and gorilla safari tour holidays in Uganda, Congo and Rwanda.