Africa is full of surprises and although most people consider safari game viewing to entail scanning the open savannah for animals such as lions, cheetah, giraffe and large herds of antelope, trekking through lush forest in spectacular mountain surrounds in search of a close-up encounter with Man’s closest relative is equally appealing!
Found only in the forests of central Africa, including a handful of parks in the tourist areas of East Africa, these primates are by no means common and only a few habituated troops in areas where research has been on-going for decades afford tourists the opportunity for such an experience.
Because of the possibility of transmitting human diseases to the chimps, regulation governing the viewing of these primates is strictly controlled and all visitors are required to wear surgical masks and viewing time is limited to 1 hour per day!
Trekking in search of the troops is highly unpredictable as their movements are erratic and change seasonally. It is quite possible to have them 10 minutes from camp on one day and to spend a full hour with them while the following day requires a 3 hour ‘hike’ culminating in a 5 minute view as they head for the dense forest or higher mountains!
But this unpredictability coupled to the stringent controls and the true feeling that you are one of only a few privileged people that will ever have the opportunity to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat, at close quarters and on foot while they go about their daily business while totally disregarding your presence, makes this experience one to be cherished – a true African experience.
Chimp trekking is best done in combination with big game viewing at more traditional safari destinations.