Encountering Africa’s wildlife is always thrilling and impressive, but I find that it’s only with the great apes that I feel a genuine connection. For me, the way they move, their facial expressions, and above all the wisdom in their eyes makes observing Africa’s apes the most emotionally rewarding African safari experience.
Fortunately in some areas, researchers and conservationists have been studying and protecting groups of both gorilla and chimpanzee. So while they are still completely wild, these great apes are accustomed to the benign incursions of their curiously hairless cousins, and you can visit them.
Great apes are best found on foot, and this can involve (at times, depending on their movements) something of a hike. The reward of gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is watching moments of quiet cogitation and exuberant play, while meeting the chimpanzees at Greystoke Mahale can involve a simultaneous display of every conceivable primate behaviour – including conception.