Watching primates in the wild is fascinating because they are man’s closest cousins/relatives and their characteristics are semi-human. Spending hours observing these primates in the forest parks of East Africa or anywhere else in the world is a remarkable experience. There are several primate species and each of these has a reason they attract the attention they do to visitors. Be it the silverbacks or black backs of Bwindi and Volcanoes National parks, Golden monkeys of Mgahinga, Chimpanzees of Mahale mountains, or Kibale forest, primates will definitely offer travelers great moments and ultimate stunning photography opportunities.

Among all the mammals in Africa, primates represent about 100 species ranging from giant mountain gorillas to bush babies. Though they are fascinating and captivating, they are usually overlooked because of different reasons, today we bring you some of the best primate destinations in East Africa.

Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks, Uganda.

Gorillas and Chimpanzees are the main primates that pull numbers to Uganda. The two parks together have about 22 gorilla groups that are tracked by 8 people each on a daily. Mgahinga is part of the Virunga Volcanoes (has 3 of the 8) that stretch from D.R. Congo to Rwanda and then to Uganda. Gorilla tracking is a lifetime adventure and these forest parks provide an experience of hiking through the dense vegetation and foliage that provides food and shelter to these giants.

Mgahinga also hosts the Golden monkeys that are also endangered primates and endemic to the Virungas. They might not sell like the gorillas but they are worth witnessing. Driving and visiting most parks of Uganda, you sight common primates that usually don’t pull masses as the Gorilla and Chimpanzees do and they include olive baboons, Black and White Colobus monkeys, Patas Monkeys among others.

 Volcanoes and Nyungwe National parks, Rwanda.

The epitome primate experiences in Rwanda are the gorillas. Volcanoes National Park in the Northern Province is home to 10 groups of these endangered apes and can be access from Kigali City with ease (about 2hrs drive). The 10 groups are habituated, can be visited daily and only 8 people are allowed to spend just 1 hour with a family after minutes or hours of walking on trails to get to them.

On the other hand, the Nyungwe forest is East Africa’s largest and oldest tract of montane rainforests. It is renowned for chimpanzees and the largest habituated troops of Angola Colobus monkeys. It has 11 primates making it 13 species of primates including the grey-cheeked Mangabey among others. Chimpanzee tracking here is not at par with the locations in Uganda and Tanzania but it is still rewarding for a primate safari in the land of 1000 hills.

The Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Parks, Tanzania.

The Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National parks are set on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the East and North East respectively and they are two of the best in Tanzania for primate watching. Mahale is home to an estimated 1000 Chimpanzees and the habituated Mimikere group has about 80 individuals that can be tracked by tourists. The park also houses red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys, and yellow baboons.

Gombe has a small community of Chimpanzees but a rich history. Jane Goodall started here now World’s Longest-running behavioral study on chimpanzees here in 1960. The other parks like the Udzungwa Mountains and Jozani Forest and Reserve in Zanzibar are also rated among the primate watching destinations in Tanzania. 

Kibale Forest National park, Uganda

The forest has habituated chimpanzees as a major attraction despite being home to 13 primate species. Kibale Forest offers the best chimpanzee tracking experience in Uganda with Kalinzu in the second place and the other areas come after the two. The forest offers travelers a chance to observe man’s closest relatives as they clamber, foliage, and feed on the trees. Unlike the gorillas, chimpanzees spend most of their time in trees than on the ground. This creates difficulty in observing and photographing them.   

Primates do not only exist at these destinations in East Africa, but from our view, these top the list for the best primate destinations in Eastern Africa.

You can book an all primate safari or a combine safari to the destinations above. Contact us for a complete and well-crafted package.

Rwanda Gorilla trekking