This morning we are going chimp trekking – we’re up early, have had a hearty breakfast and are waiting to hear if the trackers have managed to locate the chimps yet. Food is scarce at this time of year and the large M group has broken into smaller units and the chimps also move further up the mountain in their search for food – not great news for the unfit…A group of guests spent six hours trekking yesterday searching for the chimps but to no avail….I’m hoping we are luckier today as it is our only chance….
At last the trackers locate them and we hurry down to the boat, accompanied by our TANAPA guide and Lazaro. The boat will take us to the spot closest to the chimps to cut the walking time…this is what we are facing…
There are a couple of rules for chimp trekking –
:: Most importantly – no trekking if you are feeling ill, have a cold or flu….this is more for the chimps safety than your own
:: Long trousers, long sleeved shirts & comfortable walking shoes recommended
:: Do not wear any sunscreen, insect repellent or perfume
:: Keep drinking water
:: When near the chimps don a surgical mask to prevent the spread of diseases
:: No eating or drinking in the vicinity of the chimps
:: No flash photography
:: Fitness training advised as this is no walk in the park – take another look at those hills!!
As soon as you get into the forest the humidity level rachets up several notches – not to unbearable levels but you do start glowing as the pace is quite fast. The chimps move quickly in their search for food so we need to find them as soon as possible before they start their day.
At the start of the trek the trails are well defined but the higher we go the narrower these become until the guides are hacking paths through virgin bush which makes the going very slippery….we’re quite high up now & you can see how thick the bush is..
We’ve been told to avoid the buffalo bean at all costs….apparently it is the African equivalent of poison ivy and you don’t want to go there…
Suddenly the atmosphere changes and we can hear the trackers communicating by simulating chimp calls and there, just when you think you can’t go any further, there they are…..we have two chimps….a 46 year old female who has adopted an orphaned baby chimp called Puffy…it is very difficult to see them or get a clear picture as the vegetation is so thick….a dark shape lying on the ground..
An arm grasping a branch….
And finally we are rewarded with a face……how wonderful….
You’re only allowed one hour with the chimps before it’s time to move on & let Puffy & her adoptive mother go about their day….We’re back in camp in time for a late lunch but I’m headed straight for the shower & a snoozelet to recharge my batteries….it was seriously tough going…
We are back on the dhow this afternoon….some swimming is on the cards….nothing too strenuous after our exertions this morning…
When we return to the bay my banda has been turned down for the evening…..
When we land back at camp we hear that a beach barbeque is planned for tonight’s meal…FABULOUS….a quick freshen up although the dress code here is quite casual so no need for frocks & high heels…& then back down to the bar on the point for sundowners…….all is calm & quiet….
All in all – a perfect ending to a perfect trip….