Great Ape Safaris

The best Gorilla and Chimp trekking experiences

Great Apes live exclusively in the dense forests of west and central Africa. They're widespread, but dense forest habitat makes them as good as invisible in all but a few select spots.

As a result the best places to see Great Apes tend to be those areas where they've been studied and habituated - a great example of where research and tourism work hand in hand

The preferred habitat of all the African Great Apes is thick forest and many have an unfortunate predilection for living in some of the most unstable countries on the planet. Therefore there’s a big difference between places where they range and places where you can realistically have a decent chance of a safe and meaningful encounter.

Mountain Gorilla are the most famous of the Great Apes. An estimated 900 individuals live in family groups of between 10 members and 30 on the slopes of the mountains bordering the eastern DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. If you're looking for a combination of Great Apes and big game then consider a safari to Uganda where you can get everything under one roof

On the other side of the great Central African rainforest the Western or Lowland Gorilla live in the lowland forests of the DR Congo, the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon.

A combination of political insecurity in the region and relative lack of scientific research means that although there are many more Western Gorilla than Mountain Gorilla (nobody knows for sure how many, but there could be up to 200,000) there are in fact much fewer habituated groups and so the opportunities to see them are less. However, one the best Great Ape experiences can be had in Odzala.

THE MORE YOU LEARN ABOUT THE DIGNITY OF THE GORILLA, THE MORE YOU WANT TO AVOID PEOPLE”

- DIANE FOSSEY

Talk to us about planning a great ape safari
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Africa's Great Ape Safaris

CHIMPS & BIG GAME IN WESTERN TANZANIA

Visit the amazing chimps of the Mahale Mountains, staying at the remarkable Greystoke Camp. Combine with Katavi National Park

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Africa's Great Ape Safaris

UGANDA'S GREAT APES & BIG GAME

Combine the chimps of Kibale, Bwindi's Gorillas and big game in Semliki and Murchison Falls

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Africa's Great Ape Safaris

RWANDA's Great Apes

TREK IN TO THE VIRUNGA MOUNTAINS AND NYUNGWE FOREST FOR A FACE-TO-FACE ENCOUNTER WITH OUR CLOSEST COUSINS

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Africa's Great Ape Safaris

GORILLA TREKKING IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK

VISIT AFRICA'S MOST DIVERSE NATIONAL PARK FOR A WEEK OF Gorillas, TREKKING, CLIMBING AND EXPLORING

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The individual characters of these animals are well known by the guides, their relationships, feuds and politics well documented. This is as much about soap opera as it is game viewing. ”

Two species of chimpanzees occur - the common chimpanzee Pan troglodytes and the bonobo or gracile chimpanzee, Pan paniscus

The chimpanzee has a surprisingly wide although discontinuous distribution from Senegal in the far west of Africa to Tanzania in the east.

From the perspective of spending time with them this is restricted to three countries - Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania where the chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains offer one of the best Great Ape experiences in Africa.  However each of these countries currently offer excellent opportunities for Chimp tracking. A sortie in to chimpanzee-country can be relatively easily worked in to a conventional “big game” safari in East Africa.

As with gorilla tracking, the modus operandi is to trek through the forest to where a family group may be, generally with the assistance of an advance party of trackers who will have followed them from wherever they spent the night, you then spend an hour in close company, observing natural behaviour from fighting to play, grooming and feeding. Recently the option of a full-day tracking experience has become available in a couple of places for those wishing to immerse themselves further in to the daily lives of our most charismatic kin.

Without doubt much of the fascination in spending time with chimpanzees is in observing just how similar to us they are - chimps are in fact more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas - and the striking similarities in physical features, grimacing, posturing and, possibly most unnervingly, the endless political manoeuvring which can be brutal and terrifyingly familiar.”

Take a look at a chimp itinerary

 

Blog

Notes on Chimp Trekking in Tanzania

A couple of places in Tanzania offer outstanding chimpanzee trekking - chimps are generally relatively easily found and the experience is a fantastic...
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Our experienced travellers include:

Olly Williams
Olly Williams
Vanessa Janion
Vanessa Janion
Rod Tether
Rod Tether

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

Reviews

Another Perfect Trip

"Morocco was our fourth trip with Natural High and true to past trips, the itinerary was right on point for our interest and goals, all logistics went off without a hitch and the service throughout the trip was high end. Everyone we worked with were friendly and professional. We had a fantastic time...Thank you!"

Tom & Karen Holterhoff

Perfect holiday from start to finish.

"Absolutely excellent service. The itinerary was spot on and the whole holiday worked like clockwork. The pre holiday notes and briefing were most useful too. I would have no hesitation in recommending Natural High Safaris to others."

Angela R CR

Fabulous trip to Tanzania

"This is the second time we have used Natural High Safaris, and again they organised an outstanding holiday for us, this time in Tanzania, combining a safari and beach holiday that was top-notch. Highly recommend them, with huge range of experience and desire to really understand what it is their clients want - and then delivering! Thanks to Catherine Ronan."

Anonymous

An outstanding trip to the Himalayas superbly designed by Natural High.

"Natural High organised a 2 week family trip to Ladakh in August 2018. Andrea Hulme used her local knowledge to design an exciting trip that included a 5 day trek, white water rafting and numerous cultural visits and experiences. Their local partners Shakti were absolutely outstanding and we loved staying in the village houses as opposed to hotels. Their female Ladakhi guide Sonam was really one of the best we have every had on our travels."

Anonymous

Natural High

"Yet again another great holiday arranged by Natural High - Air France tried to ruin it but Natural High and their local agent were very helpful in resolving the problems caused. ."

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