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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CHIMP

On the edge of the Rwenzoris lies a mystical land of volcanic lakes, majestic peaks and dense jungle. Laura Griffith-Jones sets off to western Uganda to see the chimpanzees of Kibale
A baby chimpanzee in Kibale Forest National Park - the bond between a mother and infant is human-like, with the youngster relying on her for support, protection and education. Credit: Andy Skillen

It was 5.30am as we slid along slimy mud tracks in a 4WD, deep in western Uganda’s impenetrable forests. The darkness was intense and the mist hovered forebodingly. “Is it going to rain?” I asked. “It is a rainforest!” laughed Bosco, our Journeys Discovering Africa driver. True. On arrival, we were introduced to our guide Rhona Assy, and soon we were following her on foot, trudging through the sodden jungle as the dawn broke and the fog began to lift revealing mauve clouds filling an angry sky. Shards of gold shone between the branches, bedecking the forest floor in dappled light.

There in the midst of Kibale Forest National Park, bordering the Rwenzori Mountains, our ears resonated with the sound of birdsong — a chamber orchestra of melodies, whistles and chirrups from the treetop canopy. Being mid-May, it was as wet as wet can be. It had poured overnight and was threatening to do the same again. The paths were a maze of sludge. The air was damp and the musty perfume of dew, rotting wood and evergreen trees reminded me of childhood escapades in Scotland. We slithered over a dilapidated, lichen-covered bridge above a swamp. It felt treacherous, yet strangely enthralling.

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About Travel Africa

Transfixed by Ethiopia • Lake Kariba • Kolmanskop, Namibia's ghost town • South Africa on a shoestring • Looking for lemurs in Madagascar • Kenya's keepers of the wild • Why Bengweulu is so bewitching • Remote Ruaha • Sail away to St Helena • Chimps in Uganda • Picture-perfect Tuli... and much more!