Where to go in Africa to see chimpanzees and other primates


Chimpanzees in Tanzania and Uganda

With chimpanzees and humans sharing about 98% of their DNA, it’s no wonder these playful primates are so fascinating. A chimpanzee safari is highly rewarding, but it’s important to note that it’s not easy! Expect to be hiking and scrambling through the forest and across tough terrain in either Tanzania or Uganda for anywhere between three and nine hours.

Once you get to these highly sociable creatures, you’re likely to see a dominant male, and multiple females and young – sometimes up to 20 chimpanzees together. You may hear them before you see them, as they communicate through screams, panting hoots, squeaks and barks. 


You’ll get to observe their daily interactions as they eat, play, fight, preen and rest, all using astonishingly similar movements to humans. 

One of the best destinations to experience chimpanzee tracking is Tanzania, in the Mahale Mountains or Gombe National Park – where Jane Goodall pioneered her research.

The other is Uganda, specifically Kibale National Park, Kyambura Gorge, Budongo Forest Reserve, Semliki Wildlife Reserve and Kalinzu Forest. You’ll experience a magical blend of stunning rainforest landscapes and life-changing wildlife interactions.

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Uganda safari chimp trek


Lemurs in Madagascar

Lemurs are endemic to Madagascar and with some 100 species formally recognised, you’re not likely to ever get through the list.

Some of our favourites are super-cute (and tiny) pygmy mouse lemurs and indri lemurs, known for their size, running style, unusual wailing song and teddy bear appearance. This is one of the largest species of lemurs and inhabits eastern rainforests like Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. 


The stunning ring-tailed lemur, with its banded tail and dark, mask-like eyes, can be found in dry scrub, and deciduous and gallery forests in the south and south west, around Isalo National Park, Andringitra National Park and Berenty Reserve, while mouse lemurs are abundant and found throughout the country, especially in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and Ranomafana National Park.


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Madagascar lemur viewing, madagascar holidays, Gorilla Trekking and Primate Safaris


Gelada baboons in Ethiopia

The socially adventurous primates known as geladas live high in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, in massive troops of up to 1,200.

Also known as the “bleeding heart baboon”, geladas are actually monkeys, and are quite a wildlife spectacle. They’re fantastic to listen to, with their falsetto cries, explosive barks and soft grunts. 


These noisy primates are also very playful and easy to follow, grazing among grasses in smaller harems.

They’re visually striking, with eyes that burn bright, canines like vampires and golden manes that glisten in the sun. Watching these vegetarian primates is far from boring – as a researcher once told us, it’s like watching one big soap opera!


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Ethiopia safari Simien Mountain


When to go

Trekking chimpanzees in Uganda can be done throughout the year.

In Tanzania, it’s also possible all year-round, but the best time is towards the end of the dry season, from July to October, when the chimps tend to stick to the lower slopes and you have a better chance of finding them quickly.


Lemur safaris in Madagascar are great most of the year depending on where you go, but be mindful that there’s a cyclone season.

Gelada baboon spotting can also be done throughout the year in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains, although the best time to trek is between September and November when it’s dry, green and relatively dust-free. October is often spectacular, with mountain wildflowers in full bloom.



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