Primate tour in Rwanda and Uganda
Description of Primate tour in Rwanda and Uganda
There aren't many tour operators working within the forests of Rwanda and Uganda which offer quite as extensive an amount of time in the presence of mountain gorillas and chimpanzees as you’ll find in the 11 day tailor made itinerary below.
We include not one but two gorilla tracking days; one in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda and one in the famous Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
By visiting these two parks and spending a couple of hours with the gorillas you will be able to compare the differences between habitats, behaviours and populations. Bwindi is more tropical than Volcanoes and the gorillas here seem intermediary as they travel between the eastern lowland populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the ‘true’ mountain gorillas of the Virungas, further south.
Some scientists are prepared to list the Bwindi population as a new sub-species which would make them the rarest type of primate on the planet. You will probably see around 20 individual gorillas, this corresponds with 2-3% of the global population. When you think about it like that you realise the importance of conservation for these magnificent animals and how privileged you'll be witnessing them first- hand.
We also follow a group of around 150 habituated chimps from dawn to see them rise and go about their daily business until they start to make their nests and settle for the night. You will follow the dominate males and their females and infants as they feed, play, rest, groom and possibly hunt (a hunt occurs roughly once a month). This is the best way to see chimps exhibit a range of behaviours and experience how scientists study this amazing ape.
As well as spending some magical time with mountain gorillas and chimps we will also aim to observe over 10 species of primates, including: red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, Uganda red colobus, Uganda mangabey and Demidoff’s dwarf galago.
This tour is a must for anyone who has ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of the great primatologists Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall. And you can rest assured that you are directly contributing to the continued research and conservation ethics of these primate pioneers.
All in all this really is the most comprehensive primate tour of Africa and one which will not disappoint.
Fitness levels required:
The trekking for gorillas can be strenuous as the conditions may be muddy and steep. We have no real way of knowing how far away the gorilla families will be so there could be a hike of up to 4 hours until we come across the gorillas. So a good level of fitness is required and participants must be used to walking. The chimpanzee full day habituation experience requires a good level of fitness as the walking will be through hot and humid dense rainforest. Chimps can move quickly through the forest and to follow them can mean marches for 30mins, or so, until we catch up with them again. The experience can finish whenever you wish but we can be there for 12 hours, so be prepared for a long day walking through the forest. The gorilla tracking in Bwindi National Park (Uganda) can be between 1 and 4 hours and the ridges here are very steep, the tracking in Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda) can also be between 1 and 4 hours long and include steep climbs. Both places are dense with vegetation and the weather can be either cool and wet or hot and sunny. We require all guests to be aware of the physical effort needed to see wild chimps and gorillas and require everyone to have a good level of fitness and be used to hill walking.
When you book onto the tour we will send you a comprehensive pre-departure pack which will include a full packing list of recommended equipment; but as a rule of thumb we recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope (although this is not always very useful in the forests) as well as appropriate clothing; which should be hard wearing clothing which you do not mind getting muddy. Long trousers and long sleeved shirts are a good idea as the vegetation in the forests can be spiny and there are some stinging nettles. Travelling shorts and short sleeves are also recommended. The nights can be chilly so a fleece is not a bad idea. Waterproofs, including ponchos, are essential. Comfortable and broken in waterproof walking boots with ankle supports are a must. Insect repellent is needed. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be very strong here during the day.
Minimum age: 15 years old
PlanetAll the lodges and resorts that we use on this tour are careful with their waste management and when possible we help the accommodation owners make sustainable decisions about the on going running and eco-management. For example, most of the lodges we use have solar powered lighting and practise water conservation.
By purchasing the gorilla, chimpanzee and golden monkey tracking permits we are contributing towards the continued sustainable development of the ecosystems here as the money paid to the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Rwanda Development Board (respectively) is heavily used in the establishment of anti-poaching patrols and helping to protect the primates, the forests and every other species in these parks.
Firstly we adhere to and uphold the strict rules imposed when visiting mountain gorillas; making guests aware that any small virus they may have can have huge repercussions on the mountain gorilla population; and if we notice that a guest has a bad virus or is obviously ill with a contagious illness we make the decision there and then on what the best course of action is for the welfare of the gorillas. We only run small group tours here (group sizes are no larger than 8 people) which helps to reduce the impact that people have the behaviour of the gorillas and the environment as we trek through it.
We also donate an amount of money each year (depending on the number of tours and guests completed each year) to the International Gorilla Conservation Programme and the Ape Action Africa organisation. These organisations help to protect, understand and conserve gorillas and other primates throughout Africa.
PeopleThe local community benefits from out tours as we employ local guides and trackers to help find the primates in both Uganda and Rwanda. This ensures that the money we pay these guides, is invested directly back into the local economy. Thus generating a great financial option against illegal poaching and logging which used to be seen as a quick way to earn large amounts of money. Over the last 10-20 years of high profile eco tourism here we have seen a huge reduction in poaching and deforestation and an increase in the popularity that the primates here have in the local populations.
The other major effect this tour has on the local community is by the purchase of two mountain gorilla permits US$500 each, this money not only goes into protecting the wildlife of the park by paying for rangers and perimeter patrols but some of this money is given directly back to the local villages which helps education and health care in these remote African villages.
We use an African owned and African run company in Uganda to help us complete the tours, this ensures that the vast majority of the fee for this tour finds its way back to Africa and helps to protect and conserve the ecosystems here.