Ever since we first laid eyes on the Kibale forest we've been hypnotised. It's not just the spears of lights that flicker through the gorgeous indigenous trees, but also the flurry of primates that inhabit this unique Ugandan habitat. Chimpanzees are the obvious highlight, but there's 13 different primates to find, each as rare and remarkable as the last.
Which primates will you find?
The experience is all about the primates and we've found it hard to comprehend the diversity. Mystical blue faces contrast the shimmering fur of the golden monkey, colobus monkeys bashfully climb amongst the highest branches, while the endangered Uganda mangabey and L'Hoest's monkey are found in their thousands.
Vervet monkeys dominate the trees around the lodges, moving in raucous troops that interrupt the serenity. Others species you might only glimpse from a distance, such as the grey-cheeked mangabey or red-tailed guenon. Spend a day here and we're confident that you'll soon be able to identify the different species.
The beauty of chimpanzee trekking.
Chimpanzees are the pinnacle of the experience. Local guides lead groups of just six trekkers to a one-hour experience with a habituated troop. Follow the long sonorous hoots and sometimes you find a family group of a dozen chimps. Other trekking groups are lucky enough to see a 60 or 80-strong troop in one place, the chimpanzees above, behind, and in front of you. Whenever we've visited, the sights have been astonishing.
The chimpanzees are certainly alluring.
Some crush nuts with rocks, others use sticks to hunt for termites, and it's common to see couples kissing and grooming each other. Infants and babies play beneath a babysitting mother's adoring eye while the sight of two chimps holding hands is unforgettable. It's usually a one to three-hour hike through the forest, which encounters a whole host of other primates before seeing the chimpanzees. Do plan ahead though, as specific chimpanzee trekking permits must be arranged in advance and they're date-specific.
Kibale National Park is a lovely complement to gorilla trekking in Bwindi and the chance to see chimpanzees is unrivalled. When the excitement of the day drifts away, evenings at one of our recommended lodges continue to bring the sights and sounds of unusual primates. It's an experience you'll never forget.