- Adventure Fix
- Tracking Mandrills
Searching for colorful primates in Gabon.
Welcome to Adventure Fix, the newsletter that helps you discover extraordinary journeys and experiences across the globe.
Today, we’re heading to Lopé National Park in Gabon to…
Track down colorful and elusive mandrills that live in the forests of this area.
Immortalized by Rafiki in Disney’s The Lion King, these baboon-like primates are the world’s largest species of monkey.
And, Lopé is one of the best places in the world to see them.
Tracking Mandrills in Gabon
Much like with gorillas, seeing more than just a glinting flee of Mandrills in their wild habitat is almost impossible unless they have been used to being around humans a.k.a habituation.
Researchers have been working with groups of Mandrills in Lopé over the last few years to get them familiar with humans, which makes finding and spending time around them possible.
Lopé National Park is the only park where you have a really good chance of seeing truly wild Mandrills.
In the other national parks where they live, there are no habituated groups.
Lope’s mandrills are mostly found in the northern end of the park, where they gather in groups of up to 800 individuals over two short weeks every year in July.
The largest recorded gathering was over 1350 monkeys.
What makes Mandrills so special is they are the only mammals that have red and blue pigments.
Mandrills have impressive and vibrant pigments ranging from bright blue to violet on the cheeks and deep scarlet on the nose, with fluffy and almost goatee-style beards.
Their butt pads are also a sight to see, ranging from pink to deep red which fad to blue at the sides.
Photo: Shutter Stock
If you would like to learn more, here are some links you can check out to get more information about tracking Mandrills.
How to Track Mandrills
The best chance to see mandrills is to go on an organized tour. Permits will need to be arranged ahead of time
As far as accommodation goes, there is a comfortable hotel in Lopé village.
If you want something more exclusive, check out tours that include stays at Moabi Tented Camp. Stays can be arranged through Gabon Wildlife Camps.
The most comfortable option is to take the train, The Trans Gabon Railway from Libreville to the village of Lopé.
Another option is to hire a 4×4 with a driver that will pick you up from Libreville. While this option offers more flexibility, it’s expensive and the roads in this part of Gabon are terrible.
The best time to see large groups of mandrills gathering is during Gabon’s short dry season (July - August).
We hope your travels take you in this direction very soon.
Until then - keep exploring!