When most travelers think about primates in Africa, they think of the majestic Lowland Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. However, there are some lesser-known opportunities to interact with primates in Africa.
While primates can sometimes be a bit more challenging to come across than other big game in Africa, it’s always a worthwhile experience. Coming face to face with creatures who share 96% of our DNA is unique and enlightening, to say the least.
If you’re interested in seeing and interacting with primates in Africa, here are two unique experiences to consider.
Chimpanzees at Lake Tanganyika
Located at the far Western edge of Tanzania, Lake Tanganyika and Mahale Mountains National Park are where you will find one of the largest concentration of habituated chimpanzees anywhere in the world.
The complexities of an extended chimpanzee community unfolds before you in an exciting, loud and high energy experience. Here, you head out into the thick forest first thing in the morning, in search of the chimpanzees. When you find them, you have one hour to watch as they go about their daily life. You become aware of the subtleties of different relationships, through gesture, sound, and expression. One dictating the pace, another courting favor, yet another perhaps plotting a coup!
It’s all acted out on this natural chimpanzee stage, and witnessing it is something we are privileged to be able to do every day. Stay at a lovely property and relax by the lake in the afternoon, while spending your mornings hiking into the hills in search of Chimpanzees.
Primate Sanctuary in Kenya
Another unique way to learn about and interact with primates in Africa is to visit the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established with an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. This important sanctuary provides lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa. Many are confiscated from cramped and unnatural living conditions, and many arrive with horrific injuries sustained from abuse at the hands of humans. At Sweetwaters, they get a chance to start over.
With 24-hour veterinary support and a stimulating quarantine enclosure, chimpanzees arriving at the Sanctuary are carefully nursed back to health. When they are ready, they are introduced into one of the two large groups at the Sanctuary, who live in vast natural enclosures separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. The chimps have set feeding times, and return to their indoor enclosures at night – but other than that they spend their days exploring, climbing, socializing, and learning to be chimpanzees all over again.