Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chimp Trekking in Kibale Forest

(See more in my full Uganda trip report from November 2011)

After a beautiful sunrise and tasty breakfast at Kyaninga Lodge we continued on to Kibale Forest for chimp trekking. En route to Kibale Forest we passed picturesque tea plantations set on steep hillsides dotted with tea pickers standing out against the green in their brightly colored clothes. The drive was approximately 45 minutes from the lodge to Kibale. After a safety briefing at the park HQ, we headed out into the forest in two groups of three.

The forest was really beautiful – colorful butterflies flew past, birds called and, in general, it was just a pleasant forest walk. I’m not really a dense rainforest girl, but put me a beautiful forest any day! We walked on fairly well cleared trails for about 30 minutes before reaching the location of the chimps. Several walked across the road not far in front of us; others were high in the canopy above us. We followed a couple of quick-moving chimps into the forest and left the trails behind.

A major warning here: Long pants are an absolute requirement and hiking boots with long socks to tuck pants into are a must, as well. SAFARI ANTS are prevalent and hurt like heck if they get past your socks – believe me! I actually wish I had worn my gaiters this day…

Once we reached the hub of activity, the chimp viewing was fairly good. I’ve trekked in Tanzania at Mahale, as well, and there were some distinct differences between the two experiences: Kibale is a bit denser than Mahale in places and the chimps tended to be up in the canopy or scattered on the forest floor rather than grouped together in large numbers, at least on the day we trekked. Once off the path you really need to keep your eye out for branches at eye-level and vines and safaris ants on the forest floor.

In contrast, the other half of our group did find a small group of chimps sitting together on the forest floor and reported great sightings. I did enjoy the chimp trekking and the forest experience and guiding at Kibale were both very good.

Photos by Lyndsay Harshman/The Kusini Collection.

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