Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda

Two days after our trek to see the gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park we headed to Kibale National Park to see chimpanzees. We had a ranger who accompanied us into the forest and for the first hour and a half, we were watching chimpanzees in the treetops munching fruit and scurrying rapidly on the forest floor. Our group leader then realized that we were supposed to be seeing habituated chimps when the ranger mentioned that these were non-habituated ones. We would have to go back to the entrance to the park and cross to the other side of the road to start our trek there to see the habituated chimps. Once there, it was much easier to see the chimps up close here because they weren't scurrying away as we got close to them and we could move around them to get better views since the forest was much flatter in parts. We saw other groups of visitors and guides but there was plenty of room for all of us. It was a magical experience to be in the forest with another of man's closest relatives, seeing them play, eat and groom each other seemingly oblivious of their curious human visitors. The alpha male, Totie, was seen being groomed and looked to be thoroughly entranced by the attention (see photos below).

Our tour came to an end the following day when we headed to Entebbe, an 8-hour drive through Uganda's stunning countryside. We said good-bye to four members of our group that evening that were returning home or going on to Zanzibar, Tanzania. I stayed another two days and, with Kathy, visited a wildlife conservation center, took two boat rides on Lake Victoria to see birds and to visit the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a 95-acre forested island that is home to 49 orphaned chimps rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The Jane Goodal Institute and the Born Free Foundation are two of the 6 trustees committed to the welfare and conservation of the wildlife on the island. The island also allows overnight stays and has accommodations for researchers for extended periods of time.

Enjoy the photographs!