It is absolutely crazy to think that another year has passed and that we are already into 2022. So, what is my first trip of 2022? Im going to be setting off at the end of February to host the Best of Uganda Safari.
In this incredible adventure which includes not only the experience of getting close to and photographing the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla, but also two full days of trekking chimpanzees in Uganda’s Kibale National Forest, and a two day visit to the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park, known for its tree-climbing lions. This safari itinerary gives you the opportunity to photograph a much wider diversity of subjects than purely primates and will leave you with an incredibly well-rounded portfolio of Uganda.
Last year was my first experience in Uganda and I really cannot wait to return to this special country and to create some very special memories with my guests. I did post a blog last year which is worth a read if you would like to find out more about my first encounter with a wild gorilla - Meeting a Gorilla Face to Face
HOW DO TREKS GENERALLY WORK?
Every morning after breakfast you will head to the head office (only a few minutes walk from where we stay) where you will be briefed on the particular family of gorillas/chimpanzees you will be trekking. The rangers will explain the makeup of the particular family as well as share some interesting facts about them. Having three gorilla/chimpanzees treks, you will have the opportunity of not only seeing different families of these primates but also different parts of the spectacular forest.
The treks can vary in length, depending on where the animals are situated and during the treks it varies from 5 minutes to 3 hours. The rangers make sure that the walk is done according to the slowest person and although there are some steep areas, it is done at a very leisurely pace
What do you need for the treks?
The most important thing to bring is comfortable hiking shoes, preferable ones that are waterproof. It is also highly recommended to wear long sleeved shirts (neutral colors), comfortable hiking trousers and preferably long socks. It is also recommended to bring a pair of garden gloves (don't worry you won't be doing any gardening) just to protect your hands from some of the plants found in the forest.
At the camp the team will provide you with a walking stick as well as garters.
Porters are available (and we highly recommend using one) to carry your bags and also assists with the ascent and descent. This is also a great way to promote work within the local communities.
Gear to use:
During all treks I almost solely use a 70-200mm 2.8 lens. The forest can be very dark so a 2.8 lens is highly recommended. I never felt that I needed more reach and felt that it was also wide enough for me to capture both gorillas and chimps in their natural environment. Having said that, I do recommend a prime lens such as a fixed 400mmF2.8 - 1, for the low light and 2, for the close up detail shots.
When it comes to trekking it can be hit or miss, there are so many things that come into play, the area we are trekking, have the animals been found, how close are we able to get to them and are they moving around while we are with them. I often find the prime lenses great for shooting through dense vegetation and creating detail.
Here are just a few more examples of the kinds of images you can create during the treks.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is also a great stop on this safari and breaks up the trekking quite nicely. We spend two days in the park and our main objective is to find the famous tree climbing lions. Having said that, this is another park that offers so much.
The park is known for its abundance of wildlife, including African elephant, African buffalo, Ugandan kob, hippopotamus, topi, waterbuck, warthog, giant forest hog, Nile crocodile, leopard and spotted hyena . Overall, the park is home to 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species.
Our main focus will be to find the tree climbing lions, but as us safari goers go, we will take in what ever the wonders of nature are willing to provide us.
I am really looking forward to returning to this beautiful country and being back out in the field, kick-starting the new year with a great safari.