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Chimpanzee trekking in the forests of Uganda

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Our closest relatives are chimpanzees and bonobos and we share 98% of our DNA with them. It is believed that we descend from a single ancestor and it is a privilege to spend time observing chimpanzees, which is indeed possible in a number of forests in Uganda.

One of the best places to trek chimpanzees Pan Troglodytes is Kaniyo Pabidi in the ancient royal forest of Budongo, southern Murchison National Park. Led by Jane Goodall Institute trained researchers and guides, Kaniyo Pabidi covers an area of 268km2. Here the 600 chimpanzees have been the subject of extensive conservation research studies over the years and two chimpanzee family groups have been semi habituated therefore making it slightly easier for visitors to track through the forest and spend time with them.

The forest also contains large, buttressed mahogany and ironwood trees, strangler figs, Muvule (mesia execlism), Spathodea Campanulata (African tulip tree) and Ficus. The uviropsis produces a fruit that the chimpanzees enjoy very much.

Monkeys and birdlife such as honeyguide greenbul and rufous sided broadbill are also often seen. Budongo Central Forest Reserve is the largest surviving natural forest in Uganda with continuous forest, beautiful mahogany trees and many largely unexplored trails. This prime forest offers great excitement, adventure and exploration.

Visitors to all these forests are guided by an experienced tracker, following tracks through the forest and through thick undergrowth past Fig trees and into dense foliage tracking and listening for the chimps as they whoop to each other. Buttresses on the large fig trees are often used for communication with the chimps by banging on them to produce a hollow sound that carries over a kilometre. Figs determine 60% of their food, young leaves 30% and meat the last 10% (red colobus and black and white colobus are their favourites).

The hiking can take between two and four hours, depending on the movement of the chimpanzees.

Once the chimps have been located, you will spend up to one hour observing these amazing creatures, watching them eat, rest and play, and observing the complex interactions between members of the group.

Chimpanzees are sociable, clever and can utilize tools like sticks for pushing down holes and pulling out termites or using rocks for opening nutshells.

Chimpanzee tracking has strict rules and regulations to follow and you will be given a pre trek talk to prepare you.

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