Kibale Forest

Last week Carl Puylaert, Dirk Hofman and I had the pleasure of going chimp tracking. We were staying near the beautiful crater lakes around Fort Portal in Western Uganda and decided we couldn’t visit the region without venturing into Kibale Forest National Park to view our closest relatives in their national habitat.

We arrived at Kanyanchu Visitor center at 7.30am to register and be briefed about the day and the rules regarding the park and chimps in particular. There are many rules and regulations in place to protect the park and it’s inhabitants from exterior influences. You are allowed to spend a maximum of an hour with our mesmerizing relatives, as you observe them swinging from one tree to another, feeding & playing around. In our case we found the chimps after a short 30 minute walk and observed the chimps while they were feeding in a fig tree. Eventually the leader of the community came down and they all marched single file towards an area filled with Elephant Grass.

“If we look straight and deep into a chimpanzee's eyes, an intelligent self-assured personality looks back at us. If they are animals, what must we be?”

- Frans de Waal

Although possibly not as breath taking as Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi, seeing our closest relatives, who share about 98% of their DNA composition with us, in their natural habitat is a truly exhilarating experience. If you are ever in Uganda, make sure to add chimp trekking to your itinerary!