African Photography Blog

Rwanda: A Great Destination for Primate Safaris

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Rwanda: A Great Destination for Primate Safaris

Many people around the world would like to have fun with their family as it is always euphoric to watch your loved smiles and enjoy themselves. There are very many place in this wonderful world to hang out with a family like beaches, resort hotels and recreation centers but these have always been visited by families and too much of everything can with boredom and in the less fun. Nowadays safari trips have become the buzzing travel idea for every family.

Safari trips to Africa to see the exotic animals and also feel the love from the mother of hospitality is always very interesting and exciting. Africa has very many safari trip places for familes but none beats Rwanda.  Rwanda is some country located in the east of Africa and it is one of the smallest African countries however, Rwanda might be small in size but very large in biodiversity and this why it is one of the top tourism destinations in Africa as scores of travelers come to Rwanda to have a good time.

Rwanda is known to the land of a thousand hills and in those numerous hills there are hidden natural treasures from the climate, wildlife, natural physical wonders to the traditional culture that every man would have to see before he/she retires to his/her permanent bed.  These attractions can best be encountered with your loved ones in order to have a memorable moment.

Here are some of the top attractions and places a family can enjoy while on a primate safari in Rwanda:

The mountain gorillas at volcanoes national park

Mountain gorillas are one of the four subspecies of gorillas. Gorillas are one of the great apes that belong to the same classification as man. These animals are referred to as one of the closest cousins of mankind with a 95% DNA similarity. These are very interesting to watch them in their natural environment as they display very intriguing traits and the onlooker might think these are humans. Many people who have watched these animals have been left buzzing and they have considered gorilla trekking as one of the best experience they have ever had in their entire lives. Rwanda is one of those few countries with the mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas are endangered species of animals with a small population of about 900 individuals left in the world. Rwanda has a third of this population of 320 mountain gorillas. The gorillas in Rwanda inhabit at volcanoes national park in the northeast of the country. It takes travelers 2 hours to reach the national park from Kigali the capital of Rwanda. Come to Rwanda with your family to enjoy the mountain gorillas in their natural setting as they are very many lodges to stay and dine in with family while doing a gorilla trekking safari. Note that gorillas are tracked by people above the age of 16 years since the tracking require immerse physicality to do it.

In addition to the gorillas, volcanoes national park has the Diana Fossey tombs and the Karisoke research centre. This is the centre which gives a traveler the full details of the history of gorillas in Rwanda and Diana Fossey was a female primatologist that fought tooth and nail to save the gorillas from being hunted down by the natives and other groups in the 1940s. So it is worth to visit those two memorable places.

Still at volcanoes national park there are golden monkeys at its basement. These are very unique monkeys with a glittering golden colour at their back which looks so beautiful to watch. Apart from their beauty, these monkeys are also very playful and interesting to watch as they jump from one canopy to another.

Rwanda also has very many cultural sites and historical for the family to enjoy namely the Kigali genocide memorial, Nyamata powerful church, the presidential palace, the market place, the parliament and the Kigali convention building. These wonderful great places give travelers a profound insight of Rwanda’s rich history and culture. These can be experience while the family takes a Kigali city tour. What is more interesting about visiting these places in Kigali, the family is able to also dine in one of the finest restaurants in the country.

The 13 different species of primates at Nyungwe Forest National Park;

Rwanda has is also known as the capital of primates as it is only of the places with the highest concentration of common primates with a whooping number of 13 species namely chimpanzees, blue monkeys, red tailed monkey, black and white colobus and grey cheeked mangabey to mention but a few. These beautiful and interesting small primates are found in Nyungwe national park, a montane forest found in the southwest of Rwanda at the border of Burundi and Rwanda.   These primates are very incredible to watch especially the chimpanzees which also belong to the ape world. The chimpanzees are the closest relatives of mankind with a 98.8% DNA similarity and therefore watching the chimpanzees in their wild always leaves the trekker so much mesmerized due to their intelligence.  Chimpanzee trekking is next to gorilla trekking experience in terms of rewarding the visitors. A family will always enjoy the experience with the chimpanzees and the different species of monkeys because they are very playful and lovely animals to watch in the wild.

The big mammals at Akagera national park

Rwanda is less known for having the big common wild animals but these do exist in Rwanda at Akagera national park in southeast of the country. National park is the most visited place by families due to the presence of these common animals. On a game drive around the park, the tourists have an opportunity to see animals like the elephants, giraffes, errands, antelopes, zebra and a small number of lion that were recently introduced in the park. The history normally known as the behind scenes is an awesome scheme for the visitors.

A picnic at Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is most serene water body in Rwanda and a picnic here is always an amazing experience for a family where they can engage in swimming, sunbathing, playing beach sports and also a boat ride. A day at this epic lake always makes the family bond and at the same time unwinds off the normal stress the usual family environment brings. In the evening of the day, the family can always rest at Kigali Serena hotel which is by the lake. This is a five star accommodation facility where a family can always have the best treat of the night.

With a Rwanda, a family have a variety of attractions to enjoy as these can be blended all together for every family member with different interests to enjoy his/her trip in the country.

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Tips for Mountain Gorilla Photography

Photography during gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is what leaves trekkers filled with lots of lasting memories. Imagine paying a visit to Uganda, Rwanda or DRC for gorilla trekking and you return with no pictures to show your family members or friends. To have the best of your mountain gorilla trekking adventure, make sure you have a good camera with no flashlight ready for photo shooting in the wild. Capturing pictures of mountain gorillas in the wild is of no doubt a life-changing experience.

Mountain gorillas live only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The two protected areas are set in Southwestern Uganda and hosts over half of all 1063 mountain gorillas which still thrive today in the world. In Rwanda, treks to view mountain gorillas takes place in Volcanoes National Park and in the DRC, visit the Virunga National Park.

Best tips for mountain gorilla photography

Set your camera before setting off for actual trek to view mountain gorillas. Your camera should be set in TV model and adjusted to the best shutter speed for lighting conditions that you will be taking photos of mountain gorillas. Amazingly, the camera settings can easily be adjusted depending on the available light. This may also help prevent blurring photos thus a great chance for you to take the best photos.

To take excellent photos of mountain gorillas, make sure you are using a standard point and shoot camera. However, make sure that your camera is fully charged.

Position yourself well

Once you bump into a gorilla family, make sure that you position yourself appropriately, hold the camera in one position as you observe the best position of mountain gorillas for clear photo shots. While on a trek to see mountain gorillas, bear in mind that all the 8 trekkers will be struggling to take clear pictures. Therefore, find the best position to stand so as to have excellent pictures.

Look around in the neighborhood

While everyone focuses on the first seen gorillas, try to look around in the nearby spot for other gorillas joining the group members. Each gorilla family is composed of 30 members and they include infants, females, males.

Exercise patience

Whereas visitors are given only one hour to take pictures and learn in depth about the behavior of mountain gorillas, try to be patient. The position you will be or the mountain gorillas are may not bring a clear picture and that is why you need to be patient a little. There is a saying patience pains but pays therefore don’t be on a hurry as a better reward may bypass you.

Have protective gear and make the best use of telephoto lens

When planning for gorilla trekking safari, please don’t leave out protective gear for your camera. This is to help safe it from bad weather especially when it rains. You will need plastic shower caps and rain jackets to help protect you in case of down pour. Note, Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Virunga National Park are largely tropical rainforest protected areas. Given the nature of these creatures’ habitat, you have to be prepared with rain gear for safety of your gargets.

In summary, photography is one remarkable thing that makes up part of your gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Virunga National Park or even when you embark on Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking adventure in Kahuzi Biega National Park in the DR Congo.

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Meet the Primates of Rwanda

Rwanda a small land locked in east Africa is blessed with a number of wildlife species that inhabit the jungles of the major Virunga volcanoes in the northwestern part of the country as well as in the forested areas of Nyungwe and Gishwati Mukura. Some of the unique wildlife species Rwanda has to offer are primates and are animal species a tourist on a Rwanda safari should not miss tracking while on a tour or safari in this beautiful country.

The major primates in Rwanda include the following;

The Chimpanzees

A large population of these can be found in Nyungwe forest located in southwestern Rwanda. Over 98% DNA of these wild animals is similar to humans, which explains why most of their characteristics are almost the same as for humans. They mainly feed on fruits, leaves, shoots and other edibles that the forests provide. Chimpanzees live in groups but are very mobile as they usually move from one place to another in search for food.

Chimpanzees of Nyungwe Forest

To enjoy more of the chimpanzees in Rwanda, just prepare and head for chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest national park. Nyungwe forest national park is the only place in Rwanda where tourists can enjoy chimpanzee tracking. There are trails in the forest that tourists under the guidance of guides follow to discover more about their closest relative. The good news is that chimps in Nyungwe forest can be tracked at anytime of the year.

Monkeys

These are very common and easily sighted. Important to note is that there are different categories of monkeys in Rwanda and the major examples include l’hoest monkeys, vervet monkeys, colobus monkeys, golden monkeys, owl faced monkeys and blue tailed monkeys. Most of these can be got in Nyungwe forest national park except for the golden. The golden monkeys inhabit the jungles of volcanoes national park and can be viewed by tourists on mountain gorilla treks. Just like chimpanzees, monkeys can also be tracked at any time of the year and tracking them gives tourists an opportunity to experience the real African jungle.

Monkeys can also be tracked in the newly established national park – Gishwati Mukura also located in the western part of Rwanda.

Baboons

These are other unique primates one can encounter while in the land of a thousand hills. To differ from monkeys, baboons predominantly live on land/ground and have a muzzle similar to that of a dog which is not the case with monkeys. Baboons in Rwanda can be viewed in the major savanna areas especially in Akagera national park that is located in northeastern Rwanda and the only savanna park in the country.

Baboons of Rwanda

Tourists on game drives can see them as they move from one place to another. Just like monkeys, baboons also live in groups and very dangerous incase any predator tries to attack their young ones since they can fight to death. Baboons are very unique and anyone interested in primate tracking in Rwanda should not leave the country before seeing them.

Mountain Gorillas

They are among the rare primate species on earth and are presently remaining in only three countries in the world Rwanda inclusive. Mountain gorillas in Rwanda can be got volcanoes national park located in the northwestern part of Rwanda. They live in the forested mountains of Karisimbi, Mikeno and Bisoke and Rwanda in general has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families however 7 of them are the ones that are usually trekked by tourists.

Rwanda Gorilla

Trekking the mountain gorillas starts very early in the morning and only 8 tourists are allowed to trek one mountain gorilla family a day. Mountain gorilla encounters are very unique and unforgettable which explains why a number of tourists from different parts of the country go to Rwanda to be part of the wonderful experience.

 

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What Makes Photography in the Kalahari Such a Good Idea?

The Kalahari is a prime spot for photographers. Mainly because photography in the Kalahari yields better results than many other places in the African wilderness.

So, what exactly distinguishes photography in the Kalahari from photography elsewhere?

– Crisp desert air
– Openness of desert savannah
– Good photo subjects on offer
– Thunderstorms in summer
– Low visitor numbers

I also discuss what equipment needed for quality Kalahari photography at the bottom of the page.

Crisp desert air

“Hazy? I am not sure I understand what that means…”

This is the typical reply you will get if you mention the hazy air almost constantly experienced in Cape Town, to a Kalahari resident. Why? Because the air here is crisp and clear.

Crisp desert air assures that photography in the Kalahari delivers high quality, sharp pictures. Period.

Openness of desert savannah

When talking to a fellow nature photographer while we were in the Kalahari, we discussed photography in the Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park of Botswana. Northern Botswana is one of my favourite photography destinations, so it came as quite a surprise when this experienced photographer said he disliked this area because of the dense bush and its effect on nature pictures.

The Kalahari is an open, arid semi-desert, so no dense bush will interfere with your photography in the Kalahari. This is one of the main reasons why the Kalahari is a favourite among photographers.

Good photo subjects on offer

The Kalahari does not boast the big five, and this is quite understandable as it is a dry desert region. However, it offers you a very good chance for high-quality lion, cheetah and leopard sightings. The latter does require some luck, as always.

Some believe that the dry Auob riverbed between Twee Rivieren and Mata-Mata offers you the best chance of witnessing a Cheetah kill in the whole of Africa. However, lion numbers have increased in the past ten years, leading to a decrease of Cheetah numbers.

Apart from the big cats, you have a chance of seeing the African Wild Cat and the Caracal. The other main predators are Spotted Hyena, Brown Hyena, Black backed Jackal, Cape Fox and Bat-Eared Fox.

The birdlife is superb. Especially the Birds of Prey! These are plentiful and good sightings are almost guaranteed. We saw four different owl species, not to mention all the Eagles, Kites and Hawks.

The plains mammals also offer you good photo opportunities. Oryx or Gemsbok, Springbok, Blue Wildebeest and Red Hartebeest are plentiful. More importantly, they are constantly in good view. If you spend some time with these herds you will witness something special.

Thunderstorms in summer

During the time of our visit, there were thunderstorms on most afternoons, and even some mornings as well. This made for great dramatic skies in my landscape pictures (for pictures, see Kalahari Landscapes). This is a big plus for photographers for obvious reasons.

Low visitor numbers

In summer it gets so hot that the general public prefers to stay away from the park. This means that if you have an air-conditioned car, and can face some high temperatures, you will be one of very few visitors in summer. Visitors at this time are in any case mostly photographers.

The low visitor numbers also help prevent the notorious lion traffic jams that are so common in the Kruger National Park. One morning we had a kill site right next to the road with 7 lions, including Blondie, the enormous black-maned male. Yes, Blondie is not so blond anymore… I think there was about ten cars through five hours. Now that’s what I call low traffic! Needless to say, I took some marvellous photos.

What equipment to take

I took my Canon digital SLR camera, my favourite telephoto and wide angle zoom lenses, and sturdy camera support for inside the vehicle and a tripod (although you can only use it in rest camps and picnic spots). This setup proved sufficient for photography in the Kalahari, although I sorely missed a long prime telephoto lens. I bought the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM since, and have not regretted my decision for one second…

My telephoto zoom, a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM proved to be a good choice except for a few shots where a longer effective focal length would have been preferred. However, I must warn you that it is not the sharpest lens, and if you are a fan of razor sharp images, steer well clear of this lens.

The 100-400mm lens offers 640mm effective focal length (efl.) on my camera (as a result of the 1.6x crop factor), and at times I wished I had an efl. of about 1 000mm to 1 200mm. It would be nice to have had a long prime with a converter. Photography in the Kalahari is great, but it would be even greater with a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens coupled with a Canon Extender 1.4x II. Serious focal length!

Camera support inside your vehicle is very important for photography in the Kalahari, as you will not be allowed to leave your car and use a tripod except in the camps. I use a door bracket and a tripod head, and also the humble beanbag. These are highly recommended.

Obviously, if you are a digital photographer you would want to take sufficient memory cards and a laptop or other storage device. Since photography in the Kalahari yields such good pictures, I can assure you you will want to take plenty of pictures. I took almost 2 000 photographs in six days!

Final thought

If you are a serious nature photographer, and like African subjects, you should seriously consider visiting the Kalahari. If there ever was a perfect fit for photographers, this is it!

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The Kalahari is a Nature Photographer’s Paradise

In February 2005, I was privileged enough to go on a photographic safari to the Kalahari. This special place stole my heart in one short week. The photo opportunities were nothing short of magical, and I am already planning my visit in 2006.

If you look at successful wildlife or nature photographers that has visited Southern Africa, you will find that a lot of them have been to the Kalahari, and produced award-winning photographs there. Those photographers operating mostly in Southern Africa have taken a good percentage of their published work here. The photographs of Suricate taken here are world-renowned and everyone marvels at the opportunity to photograph these social little creatures.

All this tells you one thing. If you want good photographs, this should be one of your first choice destinations!

What is the Kalahari? It is an arid semi-desert region that covers the far north of South Africa, big parts of southern and central Botswana and parts of Namibia. In my opinion, the best place for photography in this region is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the first of its kind in Southern Africa.

Another option is to visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, but this is a far more destitute reserve and you have to be totally self-sufficient to visit the reserve on a self-drive safari.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park consists of the old Kalahari Gemsbok National Park of South Africa and the old Gemsbok National Park of Botswana. It is a peace park, and there is no physical boundary between the two countries inside the park. We visited the South African side of the park only, and this section of Africa Nature Photography discusses the park itself, the photographic opportunities and the subjects on offer for photographers on safari in this part of the park. A pleasant surprise indeed!

Please follow one of these links:

General Information on the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Photography in the Kalahari
The Carnivores (photos)
Larger Plains Mammals(photos)
The Smaller Mammals(photos)
Birds of Prey (photos)
Landscapes (photos)

Oops! I almost forgot to mention another big attraction of this park. At night in the camps my wife and I got to meet a number of fellow photographers sharing our passion for this wonderful hobby or career of nature photography, and for the beauty of Africa. We want to thank Johan Joubert, Gerhard and Alida Pitout and Helmut and Eva Pum for the valuable information they were so eager to share, and for their warm friendship. We look forward to seeing each of them in again in future!

It was awesome being able to discuss photography around a campfire after a good day in the field. Sipping on a ice cold Windhoek Lager of course!


If you are interested in the region, and would like to learn more about its wildlife, while at the same time reading a very entertaining story, I can recommend Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens.

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Cheetah Family – A Day in the Life of the Fastest Cats

In February, I was able to spend 10 days at Little Kwara Camp, one of Kwando Safaris lodges in the nothern Okavango Delta. On the fringes of the world’s largest inland delta, this concession is a diverse area of woodland, open floodplains and deep lagoons. Game viewing is excellent, with Kwando’s strong focus on tracking and predator viewing.

A cheetah family had been resident on the Tsum Tsum plains for around 15 months when we found them on my second morning. I had see this female 2 years previously, and shortly afterwards she lost her week old cubs. This time, she has been far more successful and proving an excellent mother.

On this particular day, we would watch the family from sunrise, through 5 unsuccessful hunts to finally catching an impala.
Before sunrise, we found the the six cheetah moving through the long grass at ‘last mbala’ on the Tsum Tsum plains.
The cubs provided plenty of entertainment for us guests, though were a clear distraction for their mother. By this point, they had already disrupted two hunts. It is common to find Cheetah climbing fallen tree like this one, it gives them a vantage point across the plains to look for prey.
The mother heading out with intent with two cubs close behind.

Tsum Tsum is classic Okavango terrain. An old floodplain, it is dotted with small islands and open grasslands, bordered by woodlands. During the high water levels of the Okavango flood, this area could well be underwater.
Having rested and moved a couple of times, the overcast and rainy conditions provided the cheetah with the perfect conditions to continue hunting through the heat of the day. Moving across the floodplains, the cheetah started to approach a herd of impala. They got more than bargained for, with a troop of baboons also spreadout among the same herd.

With their excellent vision, the baboons quickly sent out an alarm call to foil the stalk. Three large male baboons took exception to the the cheetah and agressively chased the family. One of the young males tried to show his dominance towards them, though as you can see in the two images below, was soon running to avoid them.

Over 9 hours since we first spotted these Cheetah, they were able to successfully catch an impala. Leaving the cubs hiding in the thickets, the mother moved inbetween a zebra herd a burst into a small open area. Falling into a small channel, the impala was an easy target. Not wanting to disturb the hunt, we were unable to get into position to get any images from the hunt.

No Comments in Destinations, Nature

Exploring the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a relatively new park, and as I mentioned earlier, it is the first transfrontier park in Southern Africa.

The park is a combination of the old Kalahari Gemsbok National Park of South Africa and the old Gemsbok National Park of Botswana. Setting up the park was a commendable effort (that surely involved lots of patience, sacrifices and good neighbourliness) by both South Africa and Botswana, and their respective conservation bodies. This is part of the reason why it is known as a peace park.

Time of year to visit

We visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in February 2005 and this is a nice time to visit, but it also has some drawbacks. It is a time preferred by photographers for two reasons. Firstly, the chance of getting some thunderstorms is still good and this makes for very dramatic pictures. This year the rains were particularly late and there were some very heavy storms during our visit. Secondly, it is so hot at this time of the year, that the general public tends to stay away. This leads to more opportunities and fewer disturbances for photographers.

That brings us to the main drawback of a February visit, or indeed any summer visit. The maximum temperature while we were in the park was a staggering 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) while the minimum was as high as 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit). Yes, it was VERY hot!

However, I suspect that game viewing inside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park will be decent all year round. The changing landscapes also offer different opportunities at different times of the year. The widely known red dusty photographs of Springbok or Blue Wildebeest taken in the Kalahari are taken in windy September and October after the cold dry season.

One caution though! We have heard from friends who have been visiting the park for over 27 years, that it gets extremely cold in winter (not nice for camping). They said it was not uncommon to experience temperatures as low as -8 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter months of July and August. However. the day temperatures stay reasonable throughout the year.

Accommodation

Accommodation is available in the form of little chalets or as camping. We always prefer camping, since we are already so nicely set up for this after a few years of regular camping. However, the chalets looked like decent accommodation as well. Most foreigners prefer to stay in chalets.

The big advantage of camping in any of the South African National Parks is the low cost. We paid a mere 595 South African Rands for seven nights. This is almost exactly $100 at current exchange rates. That’s nothing for a week in such a prime photographic destination!

The chalets would have worked out to 2 800 South African Rands ($470) for seven nights.

Transport

A four-wheel drive off-road vehicle is not a prerequisite for driving in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. If you visit from another country, I recommend you rent one of these rather than a small sedan car. If you are resident in Southern Africa, use your four-wheel drive vehicle if you are lucky enough to own one. The roads are pretty bad, “sinkplaat” roads.

For photography, the high four-wheel drive vehicles also offer the advantage of a higher vantage point. This enables you to see more, especially if the grass is high.

The “sinkplaat” condition in and around the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park causes everything in the car to vibrate badly, even at modest speeds. It is as if the road consists of continuous mini speed bumps. This condition is aggravated by driving two-wheel drive cars and by having too high tyre pressures. It is therefore recommended to switch to four-wheel drive if possible and to deflate tyres to 1.6 bar as you enter the park. When you leave, remember to inflate your tyres again before leaving.

How long to visit

We were there for a week only, and this is a very short time in which to try and observe all the Kalahari has to offer. However, we were lucky in terms of sightings.

“The Kalahari only reveals itself to those who seek with a true heart” – Unknown.

We had very special lion sightings, one being a whole family feeding off an Oryx kill at first light one morning (for pictures, see Kalahari Carnivores). I did not see Cheetahs or Leopards in my time in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, but felt that if I had another two weeks to “seek with a true heart”, I would have been unlucky to still not have seen the Cheetahs at least.

Maybe visiting such a special place and wanting to see everything in one week is not to “seek with a true heart” . Our next visit will be two or three weeks.

You have to put in a lot of hard driving for good sightings and this is not always nice. Spending four hours in your car and not seeing anything special can be frustrating to say the least! However, it is patience that separates mediocre photographers from special ones. On some days, the Kalahari will definitely help turn you into a patient photographer.


If you are interested in the region, and would like to learn more about its wildlife, while at the same time reading a very entertaining story, I can recommend Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens.

This book does not give detailed information on the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

No Comments in Destinations

Best 10 Picturesque Sights in Uganda

Are you looking to taking a photo safari in Uganda? This relatively small country is indeed the pearl of Africa given its favorable climate, scenic sites, hospitable people, unique animals and birds. Not only suitable climate, Uganda also has the best sight for photographs and among them are:

Lake Victoria – it is the largest fresh water Lake in East Africa. The lake is endowed with many sand beaches, Islands, tributaries, birds, water Lizards and so on. Ngamba Island is among the best birding sight on Lake Victoria with over 50 bird species alongside orphaned Chimpanzees. Visit the Island to take a life time photographs!!

Kazinga Channel – It connects Lake Gorge and Edward- it is a haven for water loving birds like crocodiles, Hippos, Elephants, Buffaloes and more than 49 bird species.  Kazinga Channel is situated in Mweya Peninsular of Queen Elizabeth National Park, it is well known for hosting a variety of wildlife. Take photos from the entry of the park to Kazinga Channel… Expect to take photos you won’t take anywhere else.

Lake Bunyonyi – it is a birds’ sanctuary where we find foreign migrant and indigenous birds. Hire a canoe to explore the hidden treasure on this Lake. Lake Bunyonyi is a must visit to all birders who visit Uganda!! Lake Bunyonyi its self is beautiful dotted with more than five small Islands. Go visit this lake and enjoy picnic lunch on the Island with breath taking view of a variety of birds, nearby small Islands among others.

Mountain Rwenzori

It is also known as the Mountains of the moon and the highest in Uganda. On most times especially early morning, you can’t see the peaks of the mountain due to moisture that hinders visibility. Photographers are advised to take photos when the mountain is covered by moisture and when it is clear.

Rwenzori Mountains

On clear days, you can clearly see the foothills of Mountain Rwenzori and some peaks. The equatorial snow peaks include the third highest point in Africa, while the lower slopes are blanketed in moorland, bamboo and rich, moist montane forest.  Huge tree-heathers and colorful mosses are draped across the mountainside with giant lobelias and “everlasting flowers”, creating an enchanting, fairytale scene.

Kampala city – Kampala is the capital city of Uganda with many wonderful sights for clear and memorable Photos. The best sights for photos in Kampala include Kabaka’s Lake – the largest Man Made Lake In Africa, Kasubi Tombs- the burial place for former Buganda Kings, Uganda Museum – contains a well-captioned ethnographic collection covering clothing, hunting, agriculture, medicine, religion and recreation, as well as archaeological and natural-history displays. More sights include market places, Theatres, night clubs and worshipping centers among others.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park 

This is the most popular destination in Uganda. It is a home of almost the remnant population of the rare endangered mountain gorillas in the whole world. It is situated in far south western Uganda and well known for protecting the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas. Currently, the park conducts daily gorilla trekking and 14 habituated Gorilla Groups are visited. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a must visit for all primatologists on study tour and bloggers on business trips. The park is among the world heritage sites and everyone is welcomed to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Bwindi Forest

Kibale National Park

This is one of the best destination for primate safaris in Uganda. This forest park is a home to chimpanzees and thirteen other species of primates.  It is situated in Kibale District (5-6 hours drive from Kampala/ Entebbe Airport). The park offers the best Chimpanzee trekking safari experiences to travelers looking to ape watching in Uganda. A trip to this scenic side of Uganda will reward you with great scenic views of the Crater Valley Region. This picturesque side of Uganda is frequented by travelers and it is rated among the most rewarding destinations for photo safaris.

Kibale Forest Safari

Other chimpanzee trekking destinations include Budongo Forest, Kyambura Gorge and Toro- Semliki Game reserve. The visit will not only reward you the view of chimpanzees but also take memorable photos.

Mountain Elgon – it is the largest Volcanic Mountain Uganda. It is situated at Uganda – Kenya Border and believed to be the oldest extinct Volcano in East Africa. The mountain’s highest point, named “Wagagai”, is located entirely within Uganda.

 

No Comments in Tips, Wildlife

Wildlife Photography Technique is Where Most Amateurs Fail

Is wildlife photography technique important? Many wildlife photographers assume that by having the best gear, and getting sufficient opportunities to take pictures, they will automatically produce good pictures. I hope this is not you! Wildlife photography technique is the one area where most wildlife photographers can improve.

Before I had professional photo gear, I used to think that if I could only have THAT lens or THAT camera, I will also be able to produce pictures worthy to be published. Well eventually I got the gear, and came back to earth in a big way when I discovered that my pictures were certainly not quite there yet.

Technique! I realised that I was lacking on technique, because I thought pros mostly “got the shot” with their equipment. I refocused my efforts to improve my technique and here I am ready to tell you how to do the same.

A little warning. Getting your technique up to where it should be to get the best shot every time is pretty hard work. You have to be dedicated. I realise that if you are reading this, you are most probably one of the dedicated few who will work to turn their dreams into reality. Just thinking back to all the days I spent taking photographs of flying birds with a long lens reminds me of what I went through. Luckily the practice was all worth it, and nowadays I get that sharp shot more consistently.

Wildlife Photography Technique – ISACA

ISACA is an acronym I built for reminding me to think about all the important things before I release my shutter. Click on any of the items listed below for more information.

I = ISO Speed
S = Sharpness
A = Aperture
C = Composition
A = Action Considerations

One dreadful afternoon, shortly after I bought my first digital SLR, I walked up a mountain and took about 50 photos. This included some quite unique shots that I was very excited about. One problem though! My camera’s ISO setting was 1600 for all those shots… Needless to say I couldn’t keep one of the images due to unacceptably high digital noise on photos taken in bright sunlight (with a Canon EOS 300D body). Also, and more importantly, I NEVER made that mistake again, and never will.

This example illustrates to you why it is important to implement the ISACA acronym or some similar acronym derived by yourself. It will help avoid you making similar mistakes. It also makes you think of all the important factors before releasing your shutter.

One book that focuses on wildlife photography technique in a nice way is Wildlife Photography Workshops by Steve and Ann Toon. It is a good educational book with really useful lessons to be learnt the easy (safe) way, showing off some great photos as well.

The book is a bit difficult to read though, because it tells you to practise what you learn in one chapter before reading on. This can be difficult if you can’t get to a nature reserve, or other place providing wildlife photography opportunities, on a regular basis. It is still highly recommended reading for the budding nature photographer.

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8 African Safari Photography Tips

Taking perfect photos, both for personal memories and for sharing with friends and family, is a top priority for many travelers on an African safari. However, good wildlife photography requires specialized equipment and a little more knowledge than an average “selfie”.

There is always something unique about being in Africa’s wilderness; so much that most travelers are enticed to grab their cameras and capture marvelous moments of beauty and charm. Be it a gorilla safari in Uganda’s Bwindi national park or Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park, a cultural safari in the Karamoja region of Uganda or a wildlife holiday in Kenya’s Maasai Mara or Serengeti national parks.

Being an awe-inspiring journey with so much to see and take in, a safari in Africa will ultimately lead you to take as many pictures as possible so as to relive the memories in the African jungle when finally back home. The only challenge is to know when to put down the camera and just experience the moment or snap it to keep for years.

The fact that safari trips in Africa offer exciting opportunities to behold incredible wildlife and once in a lifetime views, it is important to carry a camera to snap the moments and perhaps document your trip. However, for only the trotters that would want to take better pictures on their next African adventures, this is the most appropriate piece you can ever read.

While point-and-shoot cameras and the new mirror-less wonders are great for travel shots, most wildlife encounters will require the longer lenses and the fast and accurate focusing power of a DSLR. Here are some tips to consider before you choose a camera and head out on safari.

  1. Get the right gear.
    You need the ultimate equipment to have your best wildlife shots. Despite improvements in the compact camera market, DSLRs are still king when it comes to top-class wildlife photography. Generally, the lenses are more important than the camera, and if you’re invested in good glass, you can get fantastic results with even an entry level DSLR.The best wildlife lenses are fast, heavy and of course expensive. If you want the best, get the fastest lenses possible, those with the widest maximum aperture, often ft2.8 that will let in the most light and allow you to use faster shutter to avoid blurry photographs. Image stabilization is also a great feature for wildlife work.In terms of focal length, a good 70-200mm with some wider lenses to capture people and landscapes will cover most situations. You can add a “converter” to lengthen the reach of your 70-200mm or choose a longer zoom (for example a 100-400mm) for those situations when you need more reach. Longer lenses are great for birds or shy animals that keep their distance.The perfect lenses for such purposes are long primes such as 300mm to 500mm fixed lenses, but these huge expensive, and unwieldy behemoths are only for those truly committed to their craft.
  2. Light is key, make use of it.
    Before any capture, always take light into consideration to see whether the direction where the light comes from doesn’t affect the quality of the shot. Lighting can make or break the shot, so photographers should never go wrong on it.
  3. Take as much shots as possible.
    Impressive wildlife photography does not only focus on the big five, also capturing smaller animals like birds and insects can be interesting. Most men behind cameras on wildlife safaris in Africa ignore the surrounding environment, but the incredible African landscapes can make eye catching varied shots.
  4. Patience and practice.
    These are the two golden rules of photography, it’s all about timing, knowing when to wait and when to exactly take the shot. Photographers can even wait for the best shots for hours. And before embarking on any African trip, practice photographing moving objects to perfect your skills as you wait upon the right photo opportunity in the jungle.
  5. Try different angles for better shots.
    For perfect pictures showing all the desired features, one should try wider and closer angles to see which one best captures the mood of the scene. Capture animals in action, maybe cheetahs running after their prey, lion cubs playing with each other or zebras grazing in the savanna plains in the national parks of Africa.
  6. Try to shoot at dusk or dawn.
    These are the best times for outdoor photography because this is when the light is at its best, giving much more contrast to add to the picture. This is also the most appropriate time to find the wildlife before they go to hide away from the midday hot sunshine.
  7. Work with the environment.
    A lot of people are always trying to find that clean picture environment where there are no branches in the way, no leaves and no shadows. It is of course true that the crystal clear image where the subject is bathed in perfect light are the images where one screams a “halleluliah” to the heavens, but more often the conditions are not all that great.More often it is the imperfections that are the things that make an image beautiful. Shadows are to animals what mascara is to models. Dust and rain create atmosphere. It is the branches and the leaves, the glare and the dust that often give the emotions to an image. Why not play around with them a little more?
  8. Photoshop or light room your images.
    Truthfully writing, most of the online images today are enhanced through editing on Photoshop or Light room. Some pictures would be spoilt by the lighting or shutter speed of the camera yet they would be beautiful to behold, Photoshop can enhance the brightness and other elements. Just simply make a world of difference in your wildlife photography.Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the precious time in the magical Africa and make the best out of it. You are here to experience what can’t be understood about Africa except through personal ventures, so don’t let photography over control you.

Given these tips, now you can undertake an African safari, together with your camera and be sure to return home with an incredible collection of pictures for your personal memories as well as family and friends.