I know this is well overdue. Rather late than never they say. With that said, please allow me a few minutes of your time to share the Best of Uganda trip report with you.
On 24 May 2021, I set off on a three week adventure into Uganda. I had hosted one of our 11 days scheduled departures and this was followed by a week long privately guided safari in this beautiful country.
In the past, I have tried my very best to describe how special this experience is and if you wish to read more about this, feel free to read this here and the recent weeks in Uganda was no different.
Life changing would be what I'd say if I were to sum the experience up in two words.
The Brief Itinerary
- The first night was spent at Boma Guest House in Entebbe.
- Enjoyed a three night stay in Kibale National Park which included two chimpanzee treks.
- A two night stay in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- Ending on a high with four nights in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park which included three mountain gorilla treks.
We took the first 24 hours for everyone to settle in, get to know each other and chat about expectations they may have for the journey that was ahead of us.
Believe it or not, the image of me modelling to the left was a part of what took place during those introductory hours. This moment highlights a big part of what my role on a Wild Eye safari is. Clearly modelling is not my strong point and so no, this is not my main role. The reason why I do what I do is for you, my guests.
On arrival in Kibale, we had a whole afternoon to kill and so encouraged my guests to get cameras in hand in order to work off any cobwebs that may have gathered on their gear. The walk we did along a pathway into the forrest around Primate Lodge helped my guests understand two important aspects of what was to come.
Firstly, the type of light and secondly, the general photographic scenes they could potentially face while trekking chimps the next day. These forest conditions are challenging in various aspects, including photographic, and so this modelling exercise was of great importance in my opinion.
The inspiration did not end there in the forest. After a few hours of shooting, we made our way back to the lodge, ordered a cold beer and I presented a visual presentation I built. The purpose of this was to embed potential photographic moments, therefore stimulating their creative subconscious minds. The key topic of this presentation was the importance of portfolio diversity.
Now after all the initial introductions and/or activities, the mood was set and we were all ready for the next two days worth of chimpanzee trekking.
Kibale National Park Gallery
After what was a great introduction to our time in Uganda, we sadly had to say good bye to the beautiful forests of Kibale National Park. This was a bitter sweet moment as our next chapter of the journey took us to the magnificent Queen Elizabeth National Park.
We spent two nights in two separate areas of this prolific park. Namely, Mweya Safari Lodge and Ishasha Wilderness Camp. This not only providing a good break from trekking but also lending us the opportunity to further more diversify our photographic portfolio.
The were two highlights during this portion of the safari. The first being the boat cruise along the Kazinga channel which is a massive body of water between Lake Edward and Lake Goerge. The tranquil experience of viewing wildlife on the banks is so unique and truly special. The other and in my opinion, greater highlight was the tree climbing lion of Ishasha.
The images you will see below will tell you a much better story than my words ever will;
Queen Elizabeth National Park Gallery
A pretty unforgettable experience thus far yes? How can things get any better you ask?
Well, the stand out highlight is what we ended the trip with. Close your eyes for a second and just imagine yourself sitting a few feet away from a huge, wild mountain gorilla. Now take that feeling you feeling and multiply that by 100... This is still no where close to the feeling one gets while in the presence of these very special animal.
We got to explore the forest floors three times and this was a great reminder, as it is every time I return, why gorilla trekking has been described by many as a life-changing experience and is certainly one of Africa’s bucket-list encounters with nature. Time spent in the company of Uganda's great apes will simply never be forgotten as the connection is more than with just the animal, you discover a new part of your very self.
Honestly; it's life changing in every way!
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Gallery
Now... I can go on and on about how amazing the experience is. Simply because it is absolutely incredible.
The guests that had recently joined me on this adventure were kind enough to take the time to write me a brief testimonial about their time in Uganda with Wild Eye. I will now share with all of the readers here to provide you with an external perspective of what this experience is all about.
“ The journey to Uganda was truly a magical experience. This was my second excursion with Wild Eye and it did not disappoint!
As always, they have put together an impressive itinerary, every little detail was thought out from beginning to end. Judy went above and beyond to help with all the travel inquiries. The Gorilla trekking was truly the highlight, hiking through the forest was breath-taking in itself but the encounter with the Gorillas will forever change you! Our tour leader Michael was right there to guide us through some very tough shooting conditions. My camera skills were a bit rusty going in but with Michaels guidance I was able to quickly adapt and feel confident with the camera in my hands again. If anyone is on the fence trying to decide if this excursion is for them, do not hesitate, you will not be disappointed!
Wild Eye; thank you so much for everything you do, can’t wait until the next adventure. 😊”
Lorraine Kourafas - USA
" Travelling in the time of Covid certainly got its challenges and advantages. We waited another year for the "Best of Uganda" trip with Wild-eye and can only thank Judy van Zyl for having the experience streamlined and all issues sorted out before communicated.
Holiday started once we received our "Negative" results in Entebbe. Accommodation and transport have been all top notch, locations excellent as they've all are close to the Rangers stations, meals were superb and for sure we burned all the calories consumed over lunch and dinner each day. Our hosts at each location went out of their way in letting us feel welcome, Primate Lodge (Kibale), Ishasha Widerness Camp (Queen Elizabeth Park) and Buhoma Lodge (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest).
Our Wild-eye Host, Michael Laubscher took us in his stride, able to manage each of our expectations across photography, fitness levels and the logistics for each day of the group.
Chimpanzee trekking was certainly the intro to primates, seeing them inter-act, catch-lights in the eyes and the hierarchy of each family unit gave us the opportunities to photograph unique situations in very challenging environments. Low light photography and not getting into only taking portraits was some of the biggest challenges but Michael picked up where each one of us required some help and assisted quickly with pointers on light, exposure, positioning.
The main attraction was always "Gorillas" and the finale after two days of the normal "Safari game viewing" in Queen Elizabeth Park was a nice breather to give you a gap and some rest for the legs.
Staying in Buhoma Lodge against the mountain gives you the awe inspiring views and the mystery of each day was on your doorstep. With hikes between 3 - 6 1/2 hours over the three days (Glad we didn't do like the other only tourists, one or two hikes) was certainly a big challenge, the Rangers are experienced enough to manage the pace and fortunately it was mainly only our Wild-eye group together each day due to the minimal tourist during this time. Each day was a different experience, ranging from thick forest, moody gorilla families to playful babies and the Silverback giving us some stunning shots with him sitting in the sun on our last day.
Our Wild Frontiers guide - JP - always had local information available, went out of his way to help and was certainly a highlight at the end of each day greeting and asking about the experience and our wellbeing. He made life easy with organising smaller groups at the Ranger stations and made it almost a private trek. A big thank you to JP!
Getting the question asked at the end - how was it - words can't describe when you are in the forest and looking into the eyes one a Gorilla or Chimpanzee and experiencing their environment which is so threatened.
Wild-eye certainly changed the way I see the world."
Charles Williams - RSA
I cannot wait for my next adventure to Uganda next month. Spaces are limited for 2022 and I would love nothing more than for you to be a part of it! I look forward to creating ever lasting memories with you in the near future but until then;
Stay happy, stay safe and chat soon!
Join Wild Eye In Uganda
This incredible adventure which includes not only the experience of getting close to and photographing the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla, but also two 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 to give 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.