The human-like behaviors, social interactions and playful antics of primates capture the hearts of people around the world. The appeal of these sapiens cousins is one of the reasons why like-minded travelers choose an unscripted nature-centric vacation. Primate Safaris by African Savannah Trails celebrates these prized and threatened creatures. Our primate safaris are led by experienced guides with an intimate knowledge of ape habitats and behaviors. We can coordinate your schedule to highlight primates, or enhance your existing plans if desired! With less than 1000 remaining in the wild, mountain gorillas are one of the world’s greatest heartbreaking wildlife stories. The animals are cherished for their peaceful demeanor, gentle appearance and deep brown eyes. Looking directly at a mountain gorilla is ill-advised, though, viewing them at a very close proximity gives us a chance to almost peer into their souls. Uganda is one of three places in Africa where you can see these majestic animals. A powerful silverback male typically protects his family. Approximately half of the mountain gorilla population now lives in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trekking in the park is not for the faint hearted; it is strenuous, very wild, authentic and unspoiled, so you truly feel a connection to the primate host living in an unspoiled jungle wilderness. Another incredible African primate destination for mountain gorillas is in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans), research home of the late Dian Fossey. Here, a ranger guide skillfully tracks the gorillas, taking you through idyllic bamboo stands and dense forest in a less demanding trek. You find yourself smiling quietly, keeping a respectful distance, as the infant gorillas taunt the silverback and try to engage their mothers. Virunga National Park in Congo, Africa’s oldest national park, is another distinct wilderness to see its endangered mountain gorillas and also chimps at Tongo Forest Hills; though, tourist facilities, infrastructure and security are ironically still in its infancy.
One of the most human-like primates on Earth are chimpanzees. The disheartening fact is that most people see these primates in small fenced animal sanctuaries, but at Mahale Mountains National Park and Gombe Stream National Park in western Tanzania, you see chimps in their own natural, wild and unfettered habitat. Gombe is a site used by Jane Goodall for her research of the Kasakela community of chimpanzees while Mahale was the research station of the late Dr. Toshisada Nishida. Through their work, humans now understand many chimpanzee behaviors. To protect the ape, the chimpanzee safaris in Tanzania have rigorously policies. African Savannah Trails visitants must be over 12 and 15 years old respectively at Mahale and Gombe, and viewing the chimp’s in their habitat is limited to one hour. A mouth mask may be provided. The regulations allow these primates to remain protected from human influence, including disease that can be transmitted from humans to chimpanzees. Kibale National Park in Uganda also has chimpanzees; over 1400 of them, though, they are much habituated to human presence and there are fewer restrictions on viewing times. You can go on a Chimpanzee Habituation Experience at Kibale and spend the whole day with them, but the chimp safari in Tanzania is without hordes of tourists, impromptu, pristine and a truly authentic experience by Lake Tanganyika. The subtropical climate of the island of Madagascar is absolute heaven for the 33 species of lemurs. The diversity is astonishing, ranging from Pygmy Mouse lemurs weighing only 25 grams to the largest remaining species, Indri or babakoto. All of the primates are endemic to Madagascar, and researchers and scientists are still discovering more species. Just imagine! You may be on a primate tour in Africa when a new species is found! Living on an island, though, has not protected lemurs from human threat, as more than 17 species have been lost since the arrival of humans around 2000 years ago. The small populations, hunting and extreme vulnerability to forest habitat loss are why all of the world’s lemurs are now considered endangered. Other areas in Africa also offer primate-seeking travelers with an abundance of agile, entertaining and intriguing species. In Kenya, many forests offer the rich and dense habitats that support populations of Tana River Red Colobus and Tana River Crested Mangabeys. Tana River Red Colobus are quite endangered and rare, and so is the Kirk’s Red Colobus at Jozani Forest on Zanzibar Island. You will appreciate the keen eye of your guide, as these hairy mammals are elusive and difficult to spot in the canopy. Riverine forests by the Tana are home to Crested Mangabeys, yellowish-brown primates with white markings and an enchanting crest on their heads.
Likened to the Garden of Eden, Kakamega Forest National Reserve in western Kenya is another exceptional example of a primate habitat in Eastern Africa. Blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, colobus monkeys, de brazza’s monkeys, potto, olive baboons and white-nosed monkeys make up the seven species of primates. The diversity of primates in the forest is the centerpiece of research by Columbia University to understand the social and reproductive behaviors of these animals. In addition to olive baboons, you may come across yellow baboons during your bush holiday in Africa. Olive baboons are common in many habitats, from dense forests, plains, highlands, deep interiors while yellow baboons are more restrictive in their choice of territory, primarily remaining in savannah, scrub, less dense forest areas and coastal woodlands. Olive baboons are the larger of the two, and their fur is also darker than that of yellow baboons. Chacma or Cape baboons are mostly found in Southern Africa. Other common species are the distinctive black and white colobus, sykes monkeys and vervet monkeys. Your outback travel in Africa may also give you a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see many endangered species. On the endangered list are Mount Uarges guereza, Ashy red colobus, Sanje mangabey, golden monkeys, amongst others. Joining mountain gorillas on the list of critically endangered primates are Kipunji and Rondo dwarf galago. Vulnerable species include L’Hoest’s monkey, owl-faced monkey and Pousargues’s monkey. Mountain dwarf galago are near threatened. Primates are some of the most fascinating fauna on the planet, and African Savannah Trails Safaris is your dependable resource for maximizing on your discerning and wholesome primate trip!