The gorilla trekking/tracking is obviously the number one tour activity that majority tourists book to see primates in the African jungle. The chimpanzee trekking/tracking on the other hand is normally just an add-on and many tourists wonder whether it is any different from the gorilla trek and whether it is a worthwhile addition to the already expensive gorilla trekking. Afterall, they are all primates!! In fact, some tourists cannot properly differentiate a chimpanzee from the gorilla.
Which one is the gorilla & which one is the chimp? 🙂
Below I try to throw a bit of perspective to help you see how these two great apes with interesting wildlife experiences compare and help you decide whether you should do one over the other, or do both of them.
Meeting up with the gorillas and chimps – character & organization
The Mountain Gorillas are big and have an intimidating look, but they are so gentle and shy, nothing like the aggressive “King Kong” gorilla portrayed in the movies. You will find the gorillas who live in relatively small tight families of about 8 – 15 individuals going about their business silently on the ground which is mostly feeding on vegetation, grooming each other and resting. It is the big silverback, the head of the family, that normally imposes himself in space to show who is boss and ensure no creature is getting too close to his members, while other members are mostly shy and retreating, always trying to get away from onlookers.
Chimpanzees are the opposite of the gorillas. Chimps are extremely active…and wild. Unlike gorillas that live in small family units keeping tightly together in a small area, the chimps live as a community of 100s of individuals occupying a large territory. They engage in loud vocalizations & the traditional thunderous hitting of tree barks to communicate with other members across the wide territory. Being in the midst of those vocalizations is quite hair-raising experience. They move swiftly, be it on ground or swinging from tree to tree and therefore need you to be on your toes almost all the time. Every member or group of members in the chimp community can engage in different activities giving you a diversity of views and experiences. You can decide to follow one member or group in the big community.
In a nutshell:
Meeting the gorillas can be likened to bumping into your favorite celebrity for the first time that leaves you astounded/starstruck, while meeting the chimp is like bumping into a long-lost crazy buddy who will treat to you to hearty laughter…
Comparing the trekking experience and the level of difficulty
The gorilla trekking level of difficulty is normally a concern because the mountain gorillas live in mountains covered in dense vegetation. It can be a difficult or easy hike to find the gorillas depending on their location, however after finding them the experience is much slower as the gorillas do not move very often and can stay in same area till you leave. On the other hand, the chimps are quite swift and can be quite a task following them up and down.
I highly recommend combining these the gorilla trek and the chimpanzee tracking. Both of these tours can be done on trips in Uganda and trips in Rwanda.