Big day today! We set off at 6:00 this morning for a 90 min. drive to Kibale National Park. Once everybody had arrived there was a total of nine of us. We got divided into two groups and off we went hoping to get some face-to-face time with close relatives. We ran into a male and a female almost immediately but feeling un-photogenic they ran up a tree and we moved on without having gotten a single image.
Another 10 minute hike followed before we bumped into a couple of males. They also went up in the tree canopies to feed but this time we waited until the alpha male and one of his prospects came down. After that followed more than 60 min. of a combination of hiking + stopping for a couple of minutes while the chimpanzees listened. All while we tried to take pictures. It was good fun to walk behind them but eventually they got hungry and shot up a tree. That was the last time we saw them. Time was up – the permit was only good for 60 min. of viewing. All in all we had around 10 min. next to the chimpanzees – the rest was spent walking behind them.
It was quite remarkable to see chimpanzees in the wild and to be within meters of them. But as cute as they are, the ranger put it all into perspective reminding us that chimpanzees are quite fierce and vicious. I will leave the details out… Still, looking into their eyes and having them look back, it was hard not to feel a some kind of connection.
Viva la Evolución!