The trip began in Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa and the 2nd largest in the world. A bit of birdwatching and a lot of relaxing before the busy days to come.
I was persuaded to throw a stick (any stick) for my new friend Koba, over and over and over. I did manage to tire him out just a little!
I spotted the bright red crest of this bird in the trees by my patio. After consulting with some bird watchers I learned that it is a Ross’s Turaco.
After a few days relaxing in Entebbe it was time to head west to Kibale National Park in search of chimpanzees.
My home for the next 3 nights was Crater Safari Lodge, nestled high on the bank of the Uganda’s second largest crater lake – Nyinabulitwa Crater Lake. It was breathtaking.
One of the 4 species of great apes, the chimpanzee is our closest relative – 95 to 98% of our DNA is the same.
We were tracking the Kanyantare group which has about 120 members. They break into smaller groups for travelling and feeding so they were literally scattered around the forest.
While a fully grown male chimp weighs only 90 to 115 pounds and stands about 4 feet tall, he has five or six times the strength of a human.
Their hands and feet look much like human hands…
They feed mainly in the trees but are not entirely vegetarian – they will eat the meat of smaller mammals.
This is Sebo, the 36 year old “vice president” of the group. He was kind enough to come down from the trees and spend some time on the ground for us!
Just because you’re #2 in a group of 120 chimpanzees doesn’t mean you still don’t have bad days!
The 2nd day we were back out looking for members of the same group. Once again they were high in the trees and moving fast…
These groups are fully habituated to humans and the trekking fees that we pay ensure the protection and survival of these creatures. They assign only 6 people to a group, each with a guide. Unfortunately, the chimps were being somewhat elusive and all of the groups converged on one spot. The chimps stayed up in the trees, maybe it was all the people, maybe they just wanted to stay up there. I can’t be sure, but I know that I wouldn’t have come down with all those people around!
This little one was having a sleep in the nest while mom was out feeding.
The 2nd day we spent a lot of time following the chimpanzees as they moved through the trees. Not very good for photography but it was an amazing experience!
We weren’t done with primates for the day though, the olive baboons along the road put on a bit of a show for us.
The baboons (unfortunately) sit alongside the road and wait for tourists to give them food. One was sitting in the middle of the road and there was oncoming traffic so we had to stop. This cheeky little man took the opportunity to jump up on to our vehicle, probably hoping to get in and steal whatever food we might have.
The front windows were up, so he couldn’t get in. When another vehicle pulled up beside us, he jumped over to them, hoping he’d have more luck!
The day ended at the “Top of the World”, with beautiful views of the crater lake below. It was time to say goodbye to Kibale and the chimps and head south to Queen Elizabeth National Park.