Worldwide Photographic Journeys

Uganda

UGANDA: Gorillas, Chimps and Shoebills

Sunday 18th May – Thursday 29th May 2025

Leader: Renato Granieri

12 Days Group Size Limit 5

UGANDA: GORILLAS, CHIMPS AND SHOEBILLS PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS WITH WILD IMAGES

Winston Churchill once described Uganda as a fairy tale land, calling it the ‘Pearl of East Africa’. Here the ancient kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro and Ankole flourished long before the first European explorers came in search of the source of the Nile. In colonial times it was regarded as the most beautiful and potentially the richest country in East Africa. Now, after many years of civil turbulence under Idi Amin and Milton Obote, Uganda has settled down once more under the rule of President Museveni and has rebuilt its important wildlife tourism industry.

Uganda is indeed a beautiful country: a green and fertile land of high plateaus, luxuriant forests, papyrus-fringed lakes and great swamps. It is also a land of contrasts. Here one can see the vast inland sea known as Lake Victoria, the source of the White Nile, and papyrus swamps where the bizarre and endangered Shoebill can still be found. In the west there are great forests which cover huge areas and are home to many Gorilas, Chimpanzees and Golden Monkeys. Uganda is undoubtedly the friendliest country in East Africa and offers visitors the opportunity to experience unspoilt African wilderness at its finest.

This wonderful Uganda wildlife photography tour will take us first to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Established in 2005 to re-introduce threatened Southern White Rhinoceros in the wild, the sanctuary is the only place in the country where one can observe these endangered creatures, thrillingly, up close and on foot. Accompanied by the park rangers for safety, we’ll have two opportunities, one in the afternoon until sunset and the following morning, under special permit, to return at sunrise to take advantage of the soft warm light of dawn.

There’s nothing in the world like spending time on the ground with Gorillas and Chimpanzees in the wild.  They are, after all, our closest living relatives who share over 98% of their genetics with humans.  Communining with these creatures watching their gentle expressions, the way in which they engage with each other in communities, nurse and play with their young, feed and groom is enough to move many guests to tears.

After three chimpanzee and two mountain gorilla treks, we’ll head for another close encounter with the Golden Monkeys. These endangered primates live in a very different ecosystem, primarily dominated by bamboo. They are habituated to human’s presence, so don’t get surprised if one runs under your legs! There’s a huge conservation effort in place to preserve their survival and habitat.

Last, but not least, we’ll head to Mabamba swamps, looking for perhaps one the most charismatic and prehistoric-looking birdsin the world, the Shoebill. We’ll head out very early in the morning in wooden boats in search of these charismatic birds who feed on the fish from the moving water in the swamp. Some other birds of interest in the swamp include both African and Lesser Jacanas, Blue-breasted Bee-eaters, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers.  With luck we may find dainty Black Herons engaging in their quirky act of ‘umbrella fishing’.

We’ll have the time to freshen up and enjoy a final celebratory lunch before we return to Entebbe to catch the evening flight back home.

What makes the Uganda Wildlife Photography tour with Wild Images special

Firstly, our tour is the most comprehensive Uganda primate and great ape photography tour available. While we focus on excursions to photograph Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees, we will also visit a sanctuary for the endangered Golden Monkey who have made a stunning stretch of bamboo forest their charismatic home.  While we are travelling we may encounter Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s Monkey and Red Colobus.

Secondly, our tours are limited to just five participants, which is smaller than many Uganda wildlife photography tours, allowing guests to enjoy a more intimate experience and the guidance of our highly experienced leader.

We will spend an afternoon and morning tracking Southern White Rhinos on foot with rangers. Staying out until dusk and then beginning under special permit, at sunrise the following morning, you will be able to get to eye level with these iconic African creatures at a reserve that is preparing them for an eventual reintroduction to the wild.

Our tour leader Renato has spent several months with chimpanzees in different countries in Africa, and is well placed to tell stories and share his passion about our closest relatives. In 2022, he was made an official ambassador for the chimpanzees by Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, and regularly gives lectures about his experiences with both rehabilitated and wild chimps. Humans share 98.5% of genes with chimps, and their dexterity for using tools is remarkably human. Several groups in Uganda have been habituated, with the highest concentration in Kibale National Park, which is where we will track them.

Renato also considers the encounter with mountain gorillas an un-matched wildlife experience. Closely watch the dynamics of a gorilla family, how they get on with their daily life. Seeing them at close range is an experience that will stick with you for rest of your life. Nothing can prepare you for the surge of emotion that takes over when you see a mountain gorilla for the first time.

Accommodation

Our Uganda Chimps, Gorillas, walking with Rhinos and wildlife photography tour uses comfortable hotels/lodges throughout.

Transport

Road transport will be by 4×4 minivan. Main roads are mostly good, but can occasionally be rough.

Climate

Uganda’s climate is largely tropical with two rainy seasons per year, March to May and September to December. May is a very good time to avoid crowds. We’ll move from the arid habitat in Ziwa to a more humid environment for chimps, gorillas and golden monkey, to then return to a swampy area for the shoebill.

Photographic Equipment

The most useful telephoto is normally a 100-400mm lens for a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless. If you use a prime lens, 200mm, 300mm or even 400mm might be very handy.

Also, highly recommended a wide-angle lens, often gorillas, chimps and golden monkey can come close. Something like 24-70mm or 24-120 would be ideal. Although all lodges have recharging capabilities we recommend extra batteries, and a rain-proof cover for the camera/lens in case of rain.

All the focal lengths mentioned above relate to full-frame cameras. Please adjust as appropriate for crop sensor and micro four-thirds cameras.

A tripod can be a heavy burden on this particular tour, owing to the amount of walking, but a monopod can be helpful if you use a heavy telephoto.

If you have questions about what equipment you ought to bring, please contact us.

 

Photographic Highlights

  • Track endangered Southern White Rhinos on foot in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary at dusk and dawn
  • Three visits to the chimpanzees of Kibale National Park, following them while they feed, play, groom or rest
  • Enjoy two treks in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where we will have adrenaline-fuelling encounters with Mountain Gorillas
  • Walk with golden monkeys in their charismatic bamboo forest
  • Photograph the prehistoric-looking Shoebill and other birds in the Mabamba swamps

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Arrive in Entebbe and transfer to our guest house
  • Day 2: Morning drive to Ziwa- have lunch and then walking with white rhinos in the afternoon
  • Day 3: Sunrise walking with white rhinos, then depart for Kibale Forest National Park
  • Day 4: Morning and afternoon treks with Chimpanzees
  • Day 5: After a morning of chimpanzee trekking the afternoon will be spent at leisure
  • Day 6: After breakfast drive to Buhoma, near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
  • Day 7: Early morning trek to photograph Mountain Gorillas
  • Day 8: Early morning trek to photograph Mountain Gorillas
  • Day 9: Day drive to Mgahinga National Park
  • Day 10: Early morning trek with Golden Monkeys
  • Day 11: Drive from Mgahinga to Mbamba Swamp
  • Day 12: Early morning with Shoebills and other water birds of Mbamba Swamp. Lunch at our lodge and return to Entebbe for an evening flight where our tour will end

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

UGANDA: GORILLAS, CHIMPS AND SHOEBILLS PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR:

PRICE INFORMATION

Wild Images Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include three Chimpanzee Tracking Permits at Kibale, two Gorilla Tracking Permits in Bwindi and one Tracking Permit for the Golden Monkeys in Mgahinga: See explanation in Overview.

Deposit: 40% of the total tour price (which includes all permit fees). Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

Cancellation Charges: For this tour, the cancellation charge for cancellations made 6 months or less before the tour start date is 100% of the total tour price. Cancellation charges earlier than this are at standard Wild Images rates (please see Booking Information).


2025: provisional $10490, £8120, €9540, AUD15830. Entebbe/Entebbe.


Single Supplement: 2025: $580, £440, €520, AUD870.

If you are travelling alone, the single supplement will not apply if you are willing to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

UGANDA: GORILLAS, CHIMPS AND SHOEBILLS PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1

Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you will transfer to your guest house in Entebbe.

Day 2

After breakfast, drive to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. After lunch, together with a guide you will track the rhinos and observe them in their habitat at a very close and safe distance.

Day 3

We have a special permit today to enter the sanctuary at saunrise. After a second rhino trek we’ll drive to Kibale National Park in western Uganda.

Day 4

After a mandatory briefing we will start our hike into the forest. Follow the footsteps of a large habituated family of Chimpanzees, with over 120 individuals that have made Kibale one of the best locations in Africa for Chimpanzee viewing. A second trek is planned after lunch.

Day 5

We’ll return to the forest for our third and final Chimpanzee trek. Afternoon at leisure, this could be a time for rest, or having an image review discussion.

Day 6

After an early breakfast we head to depart for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, home of the endangered Mountain Gorillas.

Day 7 – 8

After an early breakfast, transfer to the national park offices where we will be briefed and then allocated a gorilla family.

Upon sighting the gorillas, we’ll spend the allowed one hour with them as they go about their daily life, feeding, grooming, playing.

Afternoon will be at leisure. This is another opportunity for photo review and discussion.

Day 9

After breakfast, transfer from Northern to Southern Bwindi.

Day 10

After breakfast, transfer to Mgahinga National Park. Golden Monkey trekking. This is a chance to walk through a very different environment: a bamboo forest.

Day 11

Depart the Impenetrable Bwindi forest and head for the Mabamba swamps, near Entebbe.

Day 12

A very early start today. After a very short drive, we will board the wooden boat in search of mainly a prehistoric-looking bird: the Shoebill. We’ll depart after lunch for Entebbe to connect with the international flight back home.