Before we left QE park we stopped in at some gorge (forget the name) where you can see Chimpanzees on the cheap. Hire a guide, strap on your boots and hike down into the wilderness to mingle with the nasty stuff. Our guide was great and the experience was something else… as you descend into the valley, the air gets colder and the trees start thrashing and howling as the baboons go crazy (go ape….?) and warn the rest of the jungle of your arrival. Slop down to the cavern floor beside the river and there are fresh elephant tracks, your guide warns you to stop standing in the trail of red ants, and you begin moving through the forest tracking the chimps down. Hippos burp a warning and you can hear the jungle continually explode around you as you make your way further in. It’s pretty cool to be with an experienced guide as he points out where the chimps have been by spotting tracks in the mud, food on the ground, or piles of what’s left after the food (poop).
We hiked for 2.5 hours and saw everything in the jungle but chimps. On the way back out, hopes dashed, we waited for our guide to finish a cell phone conversation as we began rigging the raft for our journey back across the river when 10 chimps burst out of the bushes a few feet from where we were standing and started climbing the trees all around us. Jamie, Monica and I just froze. Our guide is off in the bushes somewhere talking on his cellphone and we’re face to face with a bunch of chimps who, as it turns out, are way freaking bigger than we thought. Nothing happened (… this blog is here right?) as they just ignored us and climbed the trees, but we were able to watch them do their thing for a good half hour.
Our guide then robbed us blind with a smile on his face, but it was still worth it.