Treking through an
African Jungle, through pouring rain and thunder booming
in the background, hiking for thirty minutes or longer,
or hiking up and down muddy slopes and falling at least
twice makes a person wonder if this bush whacking has
any rewards. However, once you see, no hear, a
chimpanzee, the entire trip becomes worthwhile. Just
knowing that your close enough to even hear their calls
gives a person a second wind, revitalizing them to move
on until the chimpanzees can be seen.
It is absolutely
breathtaking to turn a corner and to see these amazing
animals for the first time. Seeing a chimpanzee so
close and looking into those stunning brown eyes makes
one appreciate wildlife. Not only that, but these
particular animals are our closest relatives and so
seeing them for the first time (at all!) makes you have
a special connection because as they act, you can see
the similarities between yourself and this distant
cousin. Its one thing to be told a chimpanzee is
similar to humans, but it is put into perspective when
you see it for yourself. Itís like finding that long
lost relative you never knew because their behavior is
so much like our own.
Seeing chimpanzees in
zoos and then getting the thrill of seeing them in the
wild is a completely different experience. You learn
and take from your observation so much more from wild
chimps than captive ones. At dawn, one chimp can be
halfway up a mountain and within a few minutes cross a
river and be close to the beach. You gain a new insight
on just how much room these animals can use. Not only
that, but their behavior is more sporty and
unpredictable . True, this adds a bit more to the
danger, but it also adds to oneís learning experience.
Most chimps in zoos are selected based on how docile
they act, but in the wild their moods change
drastically! One moment a chimp is grooming, the next
he is charging at an intruding male. To be able to see
how the mood changes with weather is also spectacular.
Where else but in the wild would you see a chimp perform
a rain dance? Terrifyingly beautiful is a way to
describe this performance. Their movements are
beautiful and the amount of power behind them can be a
bit terrifying, but it is an opportunity not to be
Stepping off a boat onto
unknown territory is always a thrilling experience.
Especially when itís known that within the jungle there
are chimpanzees and upon your arrival there are baboons
scattered on the beach and playing in the water. Gombe
is filled with so much history, being that this is where
Jaen Goodall first studied chimpanzees. Being able to
see a part of the history by walking the same path Jane
had, or by seeing what she saw, it is easy to see why
someone would easily fall in love with this land.
Getting to climb to the top of Janeís Peak is a
difficult trek but well worth it. Itís the most
breathtaking view one will ever see and taking a few
moments of silence one can hear the jungle spring to
life. Recognizing areas by photos taken years ago is
another wicked experience, such as Janeís waterfall.
Yet, the best experience is watching the chimpanzeeís
behavior and with a bit of luck, seeing the same
behavior Jane saw and possibly the same chimpanzees.
This is enough to send chills down oneís back and make
you feel like youíre jumping for joy when all youíre
doing is holding your breath as you watch chimps
The best thing to watch
is when the babies play and every time they do an
adorable action, you canít help but let a giggle out.
Watching them play fills you with happiness and you are
never without a smile when you see this even. Seeing
two mothers grooming each other while their babies swing
in the tree limbs below, you will find it is almost
impossible to tear your eyes away from the babies, but
once you do, you will notice something spectacular!
This scene is almost identical to none you would witness
at any park back home. Two mothers chatting away while
their children are having a blast swinging on the jungle
Seeing a baby separated
from its mother is heart wrenching to see, but realizing
that this nine year old chimp seems to be experiencing
what children experience back home is jaw dropping. He
seemed to be experiencing separation anxiety. Another
example of not only how these animals are similar to us
in behavior but their psychology as well.