African Photography Blog

5 Most Loved Destinations in Uganda

No Comments in Destinations

5 Most Loved Destinations in Uganda

Uganda definitely being the pearl of Africa, there is a reason as to why it was named so. Uganda is characterized of good and welcoming people, lakes and rivers, mountains, rift valley escarpments, abundant wildlife and above all dubbed in good weather that is favorable for everyone. Other than that, Uganda has a rich cultural history that comes with different traditions, beliefs and dishes. Uganda has a quite number of fascinating destinations that you can see on holiday. However on average there are top most loved destinations that you can see on a Uganda safari and these are the most included places in their itineraries;

Kibale Forest National Park


The moist ever green forest of Kibale National Park is one of the loved destinations because of its lowland and montane forests harboring more than 1000 chimpanzees. Kibale Forest was formerly established in 1932 and gazetted in 1933. The parks stand at 1590m above sea level covering 766 square kilometers. Kibale Forest National Park is not only home to our little cousins but also other 13 primate species including vervet monkey, black and white, L’hoest monkeys, olive baboons, Red tailed monkeys, Blue monkeys, grey cheecked mangabeys among others. Other than primates there are 70 species of mammals notable ones are duikers, forest elephants, bush bucks, forest hogs e.t.c, over 350 bird species such as Yellow-rumped tinker bird, green-breasted pitta, dusky crimson wing, brown chested alethe and so many other birds not forgetting about 200 butterfly’s species. Kibale forest national park is popular for activities like chimpanzee tracking, birding and community visit and nature walks to the surrounding areas such as Bigodi wetlands.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison falls spans on the biggest area 3893 square kilometers covering Bugungu and Karuma wild life reserve. Murchison is known for its plunge of the thunderous Murchison falls traversing into the Nile river up to the Delta flowing into Lake Kyoga. It is situated north west of Uganda covering Masindi, Lolim, it can be accessed by road and chartered flights. Murchison falls is bisected into the north and southern sector, both sections have Ideal attractions some of them are;

The park is comprised of 76 mammal species among them are Giraffes, elephants, Buffaloes, hyenas, lions, leopards, civets, pangolin, Jackson hartebeest, bush backs, warthogs, Uganda kobs among many others. There are also primates in Murchison which include thousands of olive baboons, patus monkeys, red tailed monkeys and chimpanzees in Rabongo forest and kaniyo pabidi.
Nile river is eye catching in Murchison as waters flows from the thunderous narrow gorge of Murchison falls and uhuru falls it settles into the Nile river. The key attraction in the Nile is school of hippos near Paraa and Nile crocodiles at the banks of the river, a section of the Nile is known for having the largest fish the Nile perch, tiger fish and tilapia.

More than 450 bird species are registered with in the park among them is the rare endemic shoe bill stork at the Nile delta, saddle billed stork, red-throated bee eater, remnant winged night jar, Swamp Flycatcher, Squacco Heron, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Malachite Kingfishers, Black-billed Barbet and several others. Exploring Murchison falls national park includes a hike to the top of the falls, game drive and viewing, cultural visits and launch cruise on the Nile river.

Bwindi Forest National Park

On average most travelers end up in Bwindi Forest National Park for gorilla tracking. Bwindi Forest National Park is known for hosting half population of the surviving mountain gorillas in the whole world. Bwindi forest national park occupies a vast area of 331 square kilometers divided in 4 tracking sectors. These sectors are Rushaga, Nkuringo, Ruhija and Buhoma with successful habituated gorilla families open for tracking. Other than gorillas, Bwindi is home to other mammal species such duikers, forest elephants, bush pig, bush bucks, primates, over 300 bird species including 23 endemics of the Albertine rift valley and i4 bird species not seen anywhere else. Bwindi forest was declared a UNESCO world heritage site because of the famous mountain gorillas.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park is almost every one’s favorite on the bucket list, it one of the parks travelers can’t fail to ask about, clearly it is one of the most visited and popular destinations on the Uganda safari. The park was named after the Queen of England during her majestic visit in 1952, it is situated on the western wing of the country 398 kilometers from Kampala city.
Queen Elizabeth has quite a lot of attraction more often travelers can’t have it all in a day, it is dubbed with 95 mammal species including the four big game, lions, leopards, buffaloes and elephants among other mammal species. The park also has a record of about 618 bird species, it is indeed a diverse park characterized by crater lakes, Salt Lake, reptiles, primates, and good vegetation cover covered in the shady green humid forest of imaramagambo the largest forest in Uganda with a blue lake.

Major attractions in the park are, Kazinga channel where lake Edward meets lake George. The channel is ideal for boat cruise where you spot school of hippos, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles and water bird species. Kyambura gorge, forested deep valley popular for primate walk and chimpanzee tracking. Kasenyi plains and Ishasha wilderness is known for abundant wild life mostly like to spot lions, hyenas and leopards.

Lake Mburo National Park

Its easy accessibility makes it among the most loved destinations in Uganda. Lake Mburo National Park lies on the western side that is ideal for short safari days or even one day safari while in Uganda for a number of days. The park Is small dotted with acacia woodlands, savannah Plains, rocky ridges, swamps that sits on a vast area of 370 square kilometers. Lake mburo is known for a large concentration of zebras and other mammal species such as buffaloes, kobs, elands, topis, impalas, hippos, and leopards. You also have a chance to spot the Long horned ankole cattle grazing with in the park.

Other than mammal species, lake Mburo has over 300 bird species among them include Red-headed Lovebird, Common Scimitar bill, Rufous-bellied Heron, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Green Wood-hoopoe, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Nubian Woodpecker, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Brown-chested Lapwing, Brown Parrot, Ross’s Turaco, White-headed Barbet, Red-faced Barbet Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-winged Tit and Finfoot and many others. These birds are mostly spotted in the swampy valleys of Miriti and warukiri and on the roadside near Rwonyo camp. The main activities in lake mburo national park are game drives and viewing, boat cruise on lake mburo walking safari and horse riding.

No Comments in Advice, Tips

Things to Know When Watching Gorillas in Rwanda

Rwanda is among the three countries in the world that host the rare mountain gorillas, to mention the other two countries are Uganda and the Democratic republic of Congo. However Rwanda is considered the best gorilla safari destination hosting almost half of the world’s population and Rwanda’s gorillas are tracked in the volcanoes national park located in the northwestern part of Rwanda in Ruhengeri Musanze District just about 2-3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital and its largest city. Gorilla tracking is regarded one of the most done activities in Rwanda and about 80% of travelers to Rwanda go gorilla tracking. Many travelers leave their beautiful offices and residence to come and spend at least one or two days in the wild with gorillas observing their behaviors as well as taking photos ( a slash camera is prohibited). However it’s very herd to talk of gorillas in Rwanda with out mentioning the works of Diane Fossey who was a prominent primatologist who spent over 18 years in the wild caring out research on the behaviors of gorillas and she was against gorilla poaching, although her work was put to an end when she was killed by poachers whom she had made her self very unpopular, her body was laid to rest in the forest, many gorilla trackers can’t leave the forest with out visiting her grave yard.

Like human beings, gorillas also suffer from cold and many others. You are advised not to go for a gorilla trek if you have contagious disease that can be transmitted to gorillas, this may affect the life of gorillas and hence resulting into their reduction in their number. In case it happens and you develop a cough or flue before heading to the forest kindly please, talk to the ranger guide or park wardens at the headquarters, you will be refunded your money for the gorilla permit, but failure to do so, you may end up losing both, the money and the chance to see the gorillas in the wild. Other transmitted diseases such as Influenza, diarrhea, cough as well as cold can stop you from tracking gorillas. You are recommended to check with your doctor to prove your health status before scheduling your Rwanda gorilla safari.

Gorilla Tracking Facts

Gorillas are tracked in groups and there about 10 gorilla groups in Rwanda these include Agasha gorilla group is made up of 25 members, Amahoro group consists of 17 individual members, Bwenge comprises of 10 members, Hirwa has 12 members, Kwitonda consists of 18 members, Ntambara has 12 members, Sabyinyo comprises of 12 individuals, Susa group, Ugyenda has 11 members, Umubano consists of 11 members and Amahoro group. 8 members are allowed to track in each group with arranger guide who is readily available to take you through the forest, these are provided on the money you paid for the gorilla tracking, they are always armed to protect you against any problem you may enter during the hike and also to give you relevant information on all forest flora and fauna you meet on your way. Since the hike is so demanding, porters are sometimes needed; these are requested at a fee. Their duty is to carry you when you get tired or help you carry your small bag, battle water and sometimes packed lunch. Tracking gorillas begins at the park headquarters at 8:00am where you receive a short briefing about the dos and don’ts while with gorillas in the forest and also get assigned to the group booked for. After you will be lead by a ranger guide to the forest to begin the activity possibly one of the most exciting activities at the park. tracking time is some times un predictable as getting to gorillas may go to up to half or full day in the jungle as reaching them depends on where they spent their last night from, so a reasonable degree of fitness is needed plus tracking gears such as strong shoes/boots, long sleeved shirts or blouses, cameras (lash cameras are not recommended) bottled water and some times packed lunch (depending on the lodge). Passing through the jungle is some times challenging as you may hike through muddy, stinging plants among other many challenging stuff. But ounce you meet gorillas you may forget all the troubles you’ve gone through and begin enjoying gorillas while doing their daily activities such as playing, making nest, feeding among other as well as taking photos. Tipping is always at traveler’s interests and it is given according to travelers’ pleasure. In case you are well pleased, you can tip more and if not, you can tip less. Below is the guideline to follow when tipping.

You may get scared when you look at the thick volcano forest a home of mountain gorillas, you may question your self how you are going to hike through it in search of these rare giants. This is very simple tracking is guided with well experienced ranger guides who are not only guides but also passionate about gorillas, since most of the time are in the forest, they know where gorillas can be located, they can recognize where the gorillas were the previous day and they know all the paths in the forest which can link you to the gorillas without the hassle of walking through the entire forest searching for them. Ranger guides are the people that habituate gorillas so they know their sign languages such as compacted bamboo, stalks, dung, footprints and isolated nests from the previous evening so all these make them locate gorillas with a lot of easy. Due to their experience, rangers can easily sense how long the nest has been built as well as which group was that. However, during the rain season (heavy rain) it may become very difficult for them to distinguish the signs but still you are well assured of seeing the gorillas.

Gorillas are easy to see in the dense forest, this is so because gorillas tend to be safe and that no one can encroach on them and also it is very easy to find a lot of food plant. This is the reason as to why some times it becomes tiresome for human to locate them and if they re- locate to other places it may even take you the whole day in the jungle searching them. During the search you go through mud, elevated vines, stinging nettles and many others on your way to and back, along the way you stop to drink water in order to get more energy for tracking. If you feel tired, your porter will give you a hand and the group will continue with the trek.  however if you get to the gorillas you will forget all the troubles you’ve gone through and utilize the one hour you are allowed to stay with the gorillas. Enjoy watching them as well as taking photos. Amazing too, the ranger guide will make a groaning sound that will make them aware that friends are coming this indicates that these species are more intelligent than any other animal species. It has all the five senses like human and it’s regarded the second close relative of man the first is the chimpanzee sharing almost 97% of human DNA, a dominant male (sliver buck) take charge of all group members and he determines all the activities in the group. When you meet these you are advised to bend so that the sliver buck can see you all the times, as this help the family to feel not threatened. Maintain also a calm look and try not look into the eyes of the gorillas. Children below the age of 15 years are not allowed to track gorillas. Book with us a gorilla safari we are ready take you through the wild. Kindly waiting for you.

Luxury African Photographic Safari in East Africa

Looking for an exclusive luxury African photographic safari in East Africa. Here is Nature Adventure Africa Safaris a leading Eco safari company in Africa that will offer you the best that you are looking for on your holiday right away from lodges, camps, safari vehicle and the guide to take you around the region.

This year during August 2020, I and my wife planned to visit East Africa on a premium tour and since it was a Covid-19 era we thought everything to be seriously hard. But when we decided to visit gorillas in Rwanda, we looked to various tour companies to travel with and our first choice was none other than Nature Adventure Africa Safaris that manages Eco Tours Rwanda since they had nice trip advisor reviews about their services and Moses was highly highlighted by every traveler having great response to their travel needs.

Later, after reading their reviews we sent in our request to have a one-week holiday in Rwanda and within the shortest period of time Moses had already replied back with sweet words seriously making us to highly wait for his detailed package. Still as we were still discussing much what to do, he (Moses) came back with a very amazing package that was including the gorilla, Lake Kivu holiday, chimpanzee and canopy walk but the challenge was that this park (Nyungwe) has only one premium lodge (One & Only Nyungwe House) but still closed.

Later, Moses being professional in arranging Luxury Tours in Rwanda came with an advise to experience Volcanoes and Akagera parks and here he came with list of premium lodges which included the Singita Kwitonda Gorilla Lodge and Magash Camp, but still also this was still closed and this is because since it is situated at the shores of Lake Ihema in Akagera the water level was still unfavorable to access the camp.

Then with the further reading about this park we found the Ruzizi Tented Lodge which Moses has talked about before and here we agreed with Moses we stay in Luxury Ruzizi Tree Tent and this is he did in arranging the wildlife safari.

Thereafter, coming on conclusion with Moses and arranging our one way flight from Volcanoes to Akagera we started the process of Covid-19 tests from our home which the Rwanda government request you to present before your arrival in Kigali and this test should be done in 120 hours before departure and it was successful and we submitted the results to the passenger form locator that Moses shared to us and the response from Rwanda government gave us a go ahead and book our flights to Rwanda.

Later, our travel dates came and we arrived to Rwanda and upon our arrival our waiting hotel (Marriott Hotel Kigali) picked us from the airport and upon the arrival at the hotel lobby the team from the biomedical Rwanda Covid-19 received us and we did our test and later waited in our room where we had our lunch and dinner. Then on the next day we received our results and from there we started our trip to Volcanoes National Park.

We spent our 3 nights at Singita Kwitonda Gorilla Lodge and this is a lovely luxury lodge as it is set at the edge of the park and from this premium hotel, we did our gorilla trek, Dian Fossey hike and golden monkey tracking which all Moses arranged perfectly. Then from the Singita Lodge we took a Akagera Aviation domestic flight to Akagera National Park and upon arrival we found our guide Steven ready to pick us and transfer us to Luxury Ruzizi Tented Lodge where we spent more 2 nights as we experience the game drives and boat ride along Lake Ihema in this park.

While still in Akagera National Park we thought of having more experience of the African wildlife and staying same luxury lodges as Singita and when we tried to reach Moses if he can help with this option going to Tanzania, he swiftly replied very possible and he proposed to have more 6 nights in Serengeti National Park and staying in Singita Lodges like the Singita Mara River Tented Lodge and Singita Sabora Tented Lodge.

On our last day returned back to Kigali where we did our departure Covid-19 test from our same hotel and took again an overnight stay and then the following got our results and embarked our jeep to the Kigali International Airport and fly to Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania and upon arrival we were checked with the thermometer gun and picked by the Legendary Lodge, Arusha. The stay here was so amazing and highly appreciate Moses for his professional selection of premium lodges on this trip of our lifetime in East Africa.

Early in the morning as before, we took our breakfast from the lodge and later the drive from the lodge dropped us at the Kilimanjaro Airport and embarked the Grumeti Air to Serengeti, Lamai Airstrip and upon our arrival the safari guide was available to transfer us to the lodge for refreshment and daily meals. We stayed here for quite 3 nights and with your stay at this exclusive camp you will have clear view of the great migration as we did it and this camp strategically set in the migration route.

Thereafter, we had to leave to Singita Sabora Tented Lodge but leaving the Mara Tented Lodge was so challenging as the camp is beautifully set and you can enjoy the luxury space provided from the camp. But when we reached the Singita Sabora Tented Lodge, again it was wonderful and extraordinary with the setup, services and the undulating viewing of the Serengeti park from this lodge.

We had more game drives and humble relax in our room and for honey moon travelers this the lodge chain to stay and the package too is so amazing as it shows you the great mountain gorillas in East Africa and the variety of wildebeests in Tanzania.

I do highly recommend going on a luxury 10 Day safari in East Africa offered by Nature Adventure Africa. On our last day we were dropped at the airstrip for the Grumeti Air flight back to Kilimanjaro Airport and here we had to board our flight back to home.

No Comments in Activities

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.

No Comments in Tips

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.

No Comments in Nature

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.


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.


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.


No Comments in Advice, Destinations

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!

No Comments in Nature

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.

No Comments in Wildlife

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 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.


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.