Chimpanzee Tracking, Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda: January 13, 2023

A Baboon Behaving Badly

The drive from Ndali Lodge to Kibale National Park took about an hour. Along the way there were more roadside baboons. One of the large males jumped on our car and it took some convincing to get him off. 

Returning to Ndali Lodge later in the day we saw a baboon on a car coming toward us. Eric slowed because there were baboons all around. The car-riding baboon jumped off the car it was on and got on our vehicle again. 

Kibali National Park, a rainforest, has the highest concentration of primates in the world. They have 13 species and a combined total of over 1,500 primates. While there we saw chimpanzees and caught occasional glimpses of the red-tailed monkeys.

Kibale National Park Rainforest

Chimpanzees live in communities of 150 individuals. During the day, these communities split up into smaller groups to facilitate food finding. The community comes together every evening for nest making and sleep. 

Prior to being allowed into the forest to track chimpanzees there is an orientation session. Once complete, tourists are assigned to a park guide. We had a total of 9 persons in our group plus the park guide and trackers. Everyone was required to wear a face mask when near the chimpanzees. When one or more chimpanzees are located other nearby tourists groups combine for the tracking making it a bit crowded and possibly threatening to these habituated animals.

Our tracking group
Multiple groups

Depending on where the chimpanzees are during the day, it can take from one to four hours to get to them. We were lucky in that it took about an hour to have more than a backlit view of a chimpanzee high up in a tree. There is a one-hour time limit for time with the chimpanzees. Our guide said we saw about seven individuals. I saw four that I could photograph. There was a chimpanzee mother with a baby and an adolescent too far up in the trees to be more than dark blobs.

I seemed to be constantly edged out by taller people when a chimpanzee was in sight. I believe the park guide noticed this and he gave me a heads up that chimpanzees were headed our way on the ground, and I got a decent shot of two chimpanzees with a gleam in their eyes walking through the forest.

As the morning wore on, some chimpanzees began making their sleeping nests for the noon siesta which meant there would be no movement until he/she woke. 

Eyes closed, nap time
Before the hour was up, I had a chance to photograph one more male chimpanzee who was not so high up in a tree.

There was quite a crowd of us below this poor guy.

I was relieved that we didn't have to go too far before the first sighting, relieved that we didn't see snakes, and relieved that neither of us stepped on fire ants. It was quite an experience. 

We had Uganda tasting lunch at Tinka's homestay followed by a walk around Bigodi Swamp that I think we were too hot and tired to adequately enjoy. There were lots of birds, interesting plants, and brief glimpses of primates like the black and white colobus. 

African Fireball Lily (poisonous)

Tonight is our last night at Ndali Lodge. The Ndali staff moved the dinner table out to the covered porch, and we enjoyed our meal while rain poured all around.

Tomorrow we continue south to Queen Elizabeth National Park.


Popular Posts