James Franco may be able to withstand an intelligent race of apes that tries to fight against humans to become the prevailing species on the planet, but then he also cut his own arm off, so we’d rather just stick to interacting with apes in more controlled scenarios — like on safari and at wild animal sanctuaries.
In the face of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes release this weekend, we took a look at 4 of the best places to see and really get up-close-and-personal with apes — from orangutans to gorillas — so that an ape-staged coup remains less-than-likely. Tour packages in Africa and Asia offer the chance to get close to these human-like animals in their element, whether you visit wild orangutans in Malaysia and Indonesia in national parks and nature reserves or take a gorilla tour or safari in Rwanda and Uganda.
Abercrombie and Kent: Uganda Gorilla Safari
Traveling with A&K to Uganda means working your way through the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to get a closer look at the endangered gorilla. You’ll find your lodgings at the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and trek through the Kibale Forest all in the interest of seeing gorillas, Ugandan kob, buffalos, and lions. Per usual, with A&K tours, guests will enjoy luxurious spa treatments, nighttime camp fires, and idyllic outdoor dining experiences. The camp will also make sure to pack hearty lunches for trekkers (apparently the homemade chips are not to be missed) and have a complimentary glass of their house wine waiting for your return. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/woychukb)
Volcano Safaris: Rwanda Gorilla Safari
Spend four or seven days trekking through Rwanda with Volcano Safaris to track gorillas in the Parc National des Volcans. You’ll come face to face with golden monkeys, climb inactive volcanoes, and spend time with Rwandan gorillas. Staying in the Volcano Safari’s own low-key, yet luxurious eco-lodges, you’ll be neighbors with a community of at-risk chimpanzees and will dine on three-course, meals on a wooden deck overlooking the Bwindi forest full of wildlife. The lodge boasts its own farm, which produces fresh vegetables (carrots, eggplant, corn), herbs, and spices and guests can walk through local markets and farmlands to see where potatoes, bananas, and tea leaves are grown.
Nature and Kind: Borneo Orangutan Safari
The Malaysian and Indonesian island of Borneo is home to the world’s largest orangutan sanctuary, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. This tour allows you to spend eleven days with not only these at-risk apes, but also with proboscis monkeys and eight species of birdlife native to the island. When you’re not diving with whale sharks, you’ll trek through the forest into caves for up-close orangutan sightings. All that to work up an appetite for home- (read: resort) cooked meals that fuse Malay, Indonesian, and Western cuisines. They make sure the food is good enough that guests aren’t tempted to steal the orangutan’s bananas. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/tbSMITH)
Steppes Discovery: Orangutan Conservation Tour, Indonesia
Spending your days experiencing all kinds of wildlife on river journeys and visiting with orangutans at the Orangutan Foundation will make you adore resting your head at the Rimba Lodge. Guests of Steppes Discovery’s flagship tour will watch orangutans in Tandjung Putting National Park and learn about them at the conservation center before tucking into mouth-watering, authentic Indonesian fare like fried rice with fresh, local vegetables, omelets, and spicy chicken served with a traditional “sambal” (or fresh chili-based salsa, which can be made hot, very hot, of off-the-scale). Steppes’ guides also recommend that guests stop by Pasar Ikan (a famed local fish market) in Jakarta before boarding their flights home.