In most instances, tourists who have never tracked gorillas or chimpanzees get confused on what these two activities involve. But do you know that many people cannot be able to differentiate between mountain gorillas and chimpanzees if they are all displayed in the same place? There are tourists who even refer to these primates species as “monkeys” or Gorillas, but they are two different primate species.
Mountain gorillas and Chimpanzees are the two main primate species that draw thousands of tourists to Uganda, but the Chimpanzees have always lived in the shadows of the mountain gorillas because they are not given the attention they deserve yet they are mankind’s closer relatives than mountain gorillas because the former share about 98.7% of their DNA with humans while the latter share 98.2% of their DNA with humans. Much as they are all important to Uganda’s tourism, they offer different wildlife safari experiences to tourists seeking African Safaris. This comparison will throw more light on how these two experiences are different and how tourists can achieve a maximum satisfaction and memorable experience from each of them. Mountain gorillas are larger in size (at least 2 times) than the Chimpanzees. This is why the former are referred as “Giant Apes”-the giants of the jungle.
First of all, mountain gorillas are only found in two locations in Uganda that include the mountainous forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Mgahinga Gorilla National park, and these are the only places where tourists can visit for an ultimate gorilla trekking experience. There are currently only 880 mountain gorillas in the entire world, with about 400 of them sheltered in Bwindi Impenetrable National park and just 80 of them in Mgahinga National park. Mountain gorillas can never thrive and survive in captivity like the Chimpanzees which are even found in zoos and sanctuaries such as the Uganda Wildlife Education Center and the Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary. So, what you find in these two destinations are actually Chimpanzees and not Mountain Gorillas. Chimpanzee tracking on the other hand is conducted from Kibale Forest national park, Kyambura gorge of Queen Elizabeth National park, Budongo Forest within Murchison Falls National Park, Kalinzu Forest Reserve and Semliki National Park.
These Primates can also be found in other places (captivity) like the Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary (23 kilometers in Lake Victoria) and the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (within Entebbe). There are over 5000 Chimpanzees in Uganda and much as these and other places offer shelter to these Primates, tourists can track them in their natural habitats (in the wild) from the listed destinations. There are several other places where these primates are found and they include Ruhondo Forest within Lake Mburo National Park and Maramagambo Forest.
A gorilla trekking permit costs $600 for foreign non residents, $500 for foreign residents and Shs 250,000 for East African residents, and this applies to all the National parks where gorilla trekking takes place. The Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHE) that is conducted in only Bwindi National Park costs $1500 for foreign non residents, $1000 for foreign residents and Shs 750,000 for East African residents. For chimpanzee tracking, the prices for the permits vary according to the place where these primates are tracked from where tourists pay $150 for chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park, $80 for chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest, $50 for tracking in the Kyambura Gorge and $30 for Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu Forest. The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) conducted in Kibale Forest national Park and Budongo Forest costs $220 per person.
For gorilla trekking, 8 persons are allowed to track a gorilla group, whereas with Chimpanzee tracking, only 6 persons are allocated to track a chimpanzee group. When mountain gorillas are sighted, they are calm and often seen feeding or resting. This provides better sighting/viewing and easier photography. The Chimpanzees on the other hand are playful creatures that are always jumping form one tree branch to another, and can be heard loudly hooting from far even before being spotted. When it comes to group composition, the chimpanzees usually live in larger groups comprising of between 60 and 100 individuals which is contrary to the mountain gorillas whom live in relatively smaller groups comprising of between 3 and 30 members.
Therefore, now that you have been able to understand the differences the mountain gorillas and the chimpanzees, you can make a trip to Uganda to experience the two different activities for a memorable experience.