In May 2020 we will lead a private group of photographers to Uganda to photograph Africa's Great Apes: magnificent mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. This safari will focus on photographing Africa's wild chimpanzees and mountain gorillas up close. Photographing these incredible primates is unlike any other experience in Africa or the world. Mountain gorillas and chimpanzees are under increasing threat and these are some of the last remaining places where one can spend time with them in protected areas. We will have two FULL days of chimpanzee viewing and photography in Kibale National Park near the Ruwenzori Mountains in southwestern Uganda. There are a VERY limited number of full-day chimpanzee permits allocated each day (our permits allow full days spent with the chimps while the majority of the permits are only for one hour of viewing) and we have secured the full-day permits for two days. After the chimpanzee treks we will head to Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to tree climbing lions and the large concentration of hippos that reside in the waterways. We then head to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for two days of photographing mountain gorillas. If you have ever wanted to spend time up close with the great apes, you will love this experience.

Safari Highlights

• Two full days of chimpanzee viewing in Uganda's Kibale National Park

• Safari game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to the tree climbing lions

• Two days of mountain gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest 

• Our chimpanzee permits are FULL-DAY habituation permits. These are VERY limited in number and allow our group to spend the entire day (6am until dusk) with the chimps, allowing for unmatched photographic opportunities. Be prepared to blow through 50-100GB of images per day.

• This itinerary focuses on up-close and real wildlife experiences from the surroundings of premier accommodations.

Is This Safari For You?
Here are some key points to help you decide:

1. We welcome photographers of ALL levels. This safari will be conducive to learning from one another and include instruction that will suit everyone’s photographic needs. No question is off limits, no inquiry too basic.

2. We are BIG on photographing in the field. We spend most our time and effort on safari activity and making images. We do meet daily to review images and discuss technique, but this is not a “classroom-intensive” trip. Our "classroom sessions" are optional (although the review sessions are valuable and there is not a more beautiful classroom). 

3. Non-photographer or videographer spouses / travel companions will love these safaris. We have specialist guides leading all safari activities and optional activities (boating, walks, etc.) are also available at any time.

The Schedule

Day 1

LAKE VICTORIA SERENA HOTEL - Entebbe, Uganda
Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport you will be met by our local representative, who will transfer our group by road to our hotel. The drive takes approximately 45 minutes. The group will overnight at this lovely oasis before heading to Kibale the following morning.

Styled to replicate the lines of a classically rustic Roman villa, Lake Victoria Serena Resort & Spa is located between Entebbe and Kampala and on the shores of Africa's largest lake. Rising above white-terraced rose gardens, which descend through water cascades and fountains almost to the shores of Lake Victoria, this tranquil resort offers a gracious terracotta and cream palace with a central citadel encircled by broad café and cocktail terraces, where cushioned sofas invite relaxation. Widely spaced amongst the rose gardens, clusters of pastel-painted villas offer a choice of rooms and suites, all with panoramic lake views.

Day 2
KIBALE NATIONAL PARK

Meet your guide at the lobby and transfer to Entebbe airport for your scheduled flight to Kasese airstrip/Kibale National Park, which is a 1hr 45 min flight. Upon arrival at Kasese airstrip you will meet our driver/guide and transfer to the lodge (approx. 2 hour’s drive).

Primate Lodge is an exclusive eco lodge situated in the heart of the Kibale Forest. It is surrounded by a lush tropical forest that is home to 13 different species of primates, including chimpanzees. Guest accommodation comprises eight luxury safari tents, which are raised on a wooden platform and covered by grass thatched roof, perfectly blending with the natural environment, each has a private veranda with splendid views of the surrounding forest. The interiors are tastefully decorated in African style, with comfortable queen sized beds and en-suite bathrooms. The lodge also offers seven intimate cottages, each with its own veranda, twin beds and a sitting area. The cottages are decorated with a traditional African art and include en-suite bathrooms.

Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee. It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park.

Our first afternoon will be spent relaxing at the lodge, lunch and dinner and some photography around the area. Overnight Primate Lodge - luxury cottage.

Day 3
KIBALE NATIONAL PARK

Today you will rise early and join the Chimpanzee Habituation Team that goes out every day to study and habituate the chimpanzees. The activity starts at sunrise and ends in evening at around 6:30pm. There is an option to end the habituation experience earlier than nesting time each day and a decision will be based on that day's specific situation and photographic opportunities. The days with the chimps are spent following them as they move from feeding trees (generally large fig trees that are fruiting) and along the ground as they move within their home range. 

There are around 1,450 chimps in Kibale, of which 320 are habituated to human visitation. The group visited for tourism includes 120 chimps, but often times the group is split between two or three sub-groups. The alpha male also spends time with seven or eight other large males as he patrols through the forest and we may spend time with him if we encounter him. Our guides are in radio contact with the trackers and researchers and so we will have ample opportunity to photography multiple sub-groups throughout our day. Other primates that we will have a good chance of seeing each day include Grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, L'Hoest's monkey, blue monkey, red colobus, black-and-white colobus and olive baboon.

After our long day of chimpanzee viewing and photography, we will return to our lodge for dinner and downloading. Overnight Primate Lodge - luxury cottage.

Day 4
KIBALE NATIONAL PARK

Early rise for the second day  and join the Kibale researchers and Chimpanzee habituation team that goes out every morning to study and habituate the chimpanzees - activity starts at sunrise and ends in evening at around 18:30 hrs. There is an option to end the habituation experience earlier than nesting time though. Overnight Primate Lodge - luxury cottage.

Day 5
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

After a leisurely breakfast, check out and transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park (approx. 3hrs drive). Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the foothills of Mt Ruwenzori as you follow its mystical ranges and a game drive as you make your way into the park where you may spot a few animals like the kobs, Elephantsamong others. Check in at Mwyeya Safari Lodge.

Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is Uganda’s most popular savannah park. It’s open savannah, rainforest, dense papyrus swamps and brooding crater lakes extends from Lake George in the northeast to Lake Edward in the southwest, and includes Maramagambo Forest and Kazinga Channel that connects the two lakes.

Much of the best game viewing is in the northern area, the Mweya Peninsula, which boasts a marvelous waterfront setting in the shadow of the Rwenzoris. The southern area of park, Ishasha, is famous for its tree-climbing lions, whose males sport black manes, a feature unique to lions in this area.

In the afternoon grace yourself for a unique scheduled boat cruise on the Kazinga channel that joins Lake Edward to Lake George and also famous for the highest concentration of hippos in Africa. You may also encounter crocodiles, countless shore and overhead birds and in the water of the channel. This is a pleasant boat ride where you can get some great pictures of elephants and buffaloes on shore. And hopefully an open mouthed hippo shot. Overnight Mwyeya Safari Lodge.

Day 6
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

Rise and shine with a coffee or tea and gather for an early breakfast. Today you will transfer to the Ishasha sector of the park (approx. 2 hrs drive), have a game drive as you make your way to the lodge arriving in time for lunch at Ishasha Wilderness camp.

Ishasha wilderness camp is situated inside the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park on the Ntungwe river, and is an Idyllic retreat for people who truly enjoy the wilderness, as it is the only camp in Ishasha Sector. On a clear day one can see the virunga volcanoes to the south and the Ruwenzori Mountains to the North. In the afternoon go for a game drive. Overnight Ishasha Wilderness camp.

Day 7
QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK

Early morning rise with tea/coffee and snacks and have a morning game drive in search of the tree climbing lions. This is a more deserted section of the park but is home to over 40 tree climbing lions, lots of elephants, antelopes, buffaloes, and birds, some monkeys and baboons and more with excellent birding opportunities as well.

Return to the lodge for lunch and relax to the sounds of the bush.

In the afternoon you will have a game drive down to the Lake Edward floodplains and hopefully you might see an occasional leopard and spot more tree climbing lions. In the evening enjoy sun downers beside the river, which offers al fresco dining and an evening 'fireplace' for guests to relax and share their day's experience. Overnight Ishasha Wilderness camp.

Day 8
BWINDI IMEPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

After your breakfast, drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (approx.2hrs drive). En route you will drive through the Switzerland of Africa area known as the Kigezi Highlands, with its terraced hillside and winding roads to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. With all the volcanic activity in this area the scenic beauty is breathtaking. Arrive at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge in time for lunch.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park’s 331 sq. kms of montane and lowland forest jungle lies in southwestern Uganda, 540 kms from Kampala. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and accessible only on foot, it is one of the richest ecosystems in Africa and it provides habitat for over 90 mammals (including 11 primates), 346 species of birds (including 23 highly localized Albertine Rift endemics), 202 species of butterflies, 163 tree species, over 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and other endangered species.

Bwindi is most notable for its 340 Mountain Gorillas, about half the world's population of this critically endangered primate.

Overlooking the primeval Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge offers a truly unique Uganda jungle safari experience. Separated by nothing more than an idyllic stream, the gorillas themselves are frequent visitors to the finest lodge in Bwindi!

A cosy fireside bar and lounge in the main building offers the chance for you to relax while sharing stories of your gorilla tracking experience with other guests. Overnight Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge.

Day 9
BWINDI IMEPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Wake up and prepare for the unforgettable experience! After an early breakfast you will transfer to the park headquarters for pre-Gorilla tracking briefing. After the briefing you will head off into the forest in the footsteps of the Mountain Gorillas. You will be guided by experienced gorilla trackers on the slopes of the volcanoes. You will start from the site where the gorillas were encountered the day before and from here the gorilla tracking begins. It is a humbling experience to stand just feet from man’s distant cousins as they eat rest, play and bond with their young. Follow the mountain gorillas as they range freely in the impenetrable forest. You are allowed an hour with the gorillas.

The trekking can take from 1 to 5 hours, but sometimes it might take long hours, depending on the location of the gorillas as they range freely in the impenetrable forest. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten, as the experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world.

After lunch, go for a forest walk to see the Muyanga Waterfalls (It takes approx. 3 hours there and back). You will hike with some light climbing and finally slope down to the valley where ends up in the fascinating waterfalls view of water dropping from 100 feet. It is a sight to behold and everyone should endeavor to check out the waterfalls while they are in Buhoma as part of their gorilla trekking trip.

Day 10
BWINDI IMEPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Wake up and prepare for the second day of  unforgettable experience! After an early breakfast transfer to the park headquarter for your pre-Gorilla briefing and then set off into the forest in the footsteps of the Mountain Gorillas. It can rain at a few minutes’ notice; hence waterproof clothing is a good essential including zip lock bags for cameras and lenses. It is important to take plenty of water, which will be provided.

Day 11

After your breakfastcheck out and transfer to Kihihi airstrip (approx. 2 hrs drive) to take your scheduled flight which departs at 09:45hrs to Entebbe, arriving at 11:25hrs. Upon arrival at Entebbe International airport you will be met by your driver and be transferred to Protea Hotel for your day use room. Depending on your international flight you will be transferred to Entebbe airport at the appropriate time to check in for your flight. End of services.

NOTE: Customized extensions to this safari, including Tanzania, mountain gorillas in Rwanda, additional time on safari in Kenya, Cape Town, Victoria Falls and other destinations may be arranged through us as desired. Ask us for further information.

The Cost

The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $12,950 per person. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below).

Due to the limited number of spaces available, if a solo guest is willing to share a room and we can match with another guest of the same gender, we will do so. If a solo guest is unwilling to share, then a single supplement will be charged $1,200 (please contact us if you would like to have your own accommodation as we have a very limited number of single slots available).

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserves the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.

 

What Do I Do Next?
This group will be super small so space is limited. If this exciting trip has your name on it; if you're excited by the thought of becoming a member of this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this workshop. When they're spoken for, that's it. If you have any questions before registering, send us an e-mail with any inquiries to info@andybiggs.com.

 
 

Trip Details

Safari Leader: PJ Hicks

Dates: May 6-15, 2020

Cost: $12,950 (sharing)

Single Supplement: $1,200

 

What's Included?
• Accommodation on a shared basis (single rooms may be available - please inquire)

• 1x trip leader (PJ Hicks)

• Private meet and assist services at the airport in Entebbe

• Road transfers to/from the airports and the hotels

• All internal air flights

• All meals while on safari (drinks are on your own account).

• Breakfasts at Lake Victoria Serena. 

• All permits and fees for the chimpanzees, game drives and mountain gorillas.

• Private vehicles and drivers for all road transfers throughout the trip.

• The current Tourism Levies and all relevant Value Added Tax or Government Sales Tax.

What is Not Included?
• International airfare and/or other transportation between your home and Entebbe, Uganda and back home

• Dinner / drinks in Entebbe on your arrival evening

• Gratuities

• Alcoholic Drinks

• Laundry cost at hotels and lodges.

• Visas, travel insurance, personal purchases (including curios, spirit liquors, telephone calls etc.)

• Optional pre-/post- safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the trip (we would be happy to arrange any and all additional overnights or extensions).