Our final activity on our African adventure was quite an experience: tracking chimpanzees in Kibale National Forest. The morning after our first lovely evening at Isunga Lodge, we awakened and ate a delicious breakfast and left to find us some chimps!
The day started in the same way as the gorilla tracking: we met up with our guide, hired our porters, and drove to the starting point for the family for which we were assigned.
Our first chimp sightings were in after a short, easy walk through the woods. The two chimps we saw were way up in a tree eating figs. They were so high up, our necks began to hurt, and we were pretty disappointed that they were so difficult to see. Tracking chimpanzees was definitely harder than we thought!
Eventually we moved on, and hiked for quite a while before seeing more chimps. But this time, they were on the ground right in front of us!
We observed them eating, lounging, and climbing. Babies riding on their mamas backs and crawling into their arms. They were so cute. And strangely human. And this is when I captured the funniest moment of the trip…a chimp flipped me off!!!
Considering we share 98.8% of the same DNA, I guess that's not terribly shocking how human their behavior and mannerisms were.
We continued walking and eventually ended up behind a group of chimps making their way deeper in the jungle. They literally brushed right past us, and it would have been so easy to have lifted a hand and pet them as they walked past. But we were on our best behavior and showed restraint…
We then came upon three chimps sitting on the ground grooming each other.
We spent quite a bit of time watching these three picking bugs out of each other's fur. One guy (or gal?) decided to just lounge and watch us watching them.
Our final surreal moment of our African adventure was when we heard several groups of chimpanzees in different areas of the dense woodlands communicating — and it was unbelievable to hear their grunts, barks, screams, and hoots echoing loudly throughout the jungle.
The way their voices rose in volume and finally crescendoed and reverberated off the trees left us speechless. Although we had many exciting encounters tracking chimpanzees, our time with the chimps ended and we reluctantly began our long hike out of the jungle with the sounds of the chimps' screeching from the treetops growing fainter as we got closer to our waiting vehicle.
With a phenomenal final dinner and bottle of wine watching the sunset over the valley from the dining patio at Isunga Lodge, we all reminisced about everything we had shared during the previous two weeks, and expressed our sincere gratitude for the most incredible experiences.