Planning a chimpanzee photography safari in Uganda
Best practices for planning a chimpanzee photography safari in Uganda. A chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda is one of the best ways in which you get to observe and learn about the primates that share almost 99.9% of human DNA behind the lens. Chimpanzee trekking is carried out in different destinations in Uganda: Kibale National Park, Kyambura Gorge, Kalinzu in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park.
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Photography safaris can be organized for all types of tourists, including those who have no prior knowledge about taking photos, and all you have to do is plan with us to help you organize your safari. There are a few things that you need to know as you plan for the chimp safari, and these include:
Lighting: Lighting is extremely important when taking good photos because you do not want shadows over the safari photos. The best lighting is either early morning or late evening, but in case you get to the chimpanzees in the afternoon, adjust your camera settings to take good photos.
Type of camera: The type of camera chosen is of utter importance. You can go with a digital camera, but a point-and-shoot camera is the best if this is your first rodeo. When packing, ensure all the equipment you are carrying is light.
Be patient: You are walking through the jungle and do not know what to expect, so you need to be very patient to take beautiful photos. Chimpanzees might have human DNA, but they are still wild and habituated or not, and they can always be on the move. Being patient helps you take clear photos of the primates.
Chimpanzee trek permits cost and purchase guidelines in Uganda.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has recently developed new tourist permit purchase guidelines. All the guidelines need to be followed, and they include the following:
- The trekking minimum age has been changed from 15 to 12 years to include a wide range of trekkers.
- All special requests for children below the age of 12 years to participate in chimpanzee trekking are no longer allowed.
- In case you want to reschedule, these should be done within a year from the original trek date.
- You need to pay at least 100% of the total cost of the permit 90 days before the travel and trek date for bookings to be made.
- If you have more than one reschedule, a surcharge will be added to the original cost.
- You cannot exchange a chimpanzee trekking permit for a habituation permit.
The cost of a chimpanzee trekking permit in Uganda depends on the chosen trek destination, and some offer discounts during the low season.
Chimpanzee trekking destinations in Uganda
Uganda has several chimpanzee trekking destinations located in different parts of the country, and these include the following:
Kibale National Park: Kibale National Park is Uganda’s main chimpanzee trekking destination with over 1500 chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale is carried out all year round, with the best time during the dry season from June to September, and every morning before the start of the trek, a briefing is carried out by the guides so that tourists get to know what to expect during the trek. Chimpanzee habituation is also carried out in Kibale and before participating in these activities, A chimp trekking permit in Kibale costs $150 for foreign residents, $200 for foreign non-residents and 150, 000 UGX for Ugandan citizens and East African citizens.
Kyambura Gorge: Kyambura Gorge, also known as the Valley of Apes, is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the top visited parks in Uganda for game drives. Kyambura Gorge has about 16 chimpanzees, and these can be trekked throughout the year. Chimpanzee trek permits in Kyambura cost $50 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents and 30,000 UGX for East African and Ugandan citizens.
Kalinzu Forest: Kalinzu Forest is located near Queen Elizabeth National Park and is one of the chimpanzee trekking destinations in the country. Kalinzu Forest is the 2nd best chimp trek destination after Kibale, with over 380 chimpanzees. Found near the Maramagambo Forest in the southwestern part of Uganda, Chimpanzees are the main reason why tourists travel to the forest, which is also home to over 379 recorded bird species, six primate species, and 414 tree species. Over 50 habituated chimpanzees are open for trekking, and the trek is carried out in two shifts: one in the morning and the second in the afternoon.
After the early morning briefing, the groups are divided into three depending on the level of physical strength and then led by a trained ranger. Each group is allowed an hour with the chimpanzees when you locate them. The cost of the chimpanzee trek permit in Kalinzu is $10 for foreign residents, 2,500 for East African citizens, and $5 for foreign residents per person, and is only valid for a day. You need to book in advance, which can be done at the Reservation Center located within the forest.
Budongo Forest: Budongo Forest is located within Murchison Falls National Park with over 600 chimpanzees and only 4 chimpanzee communities available for trekking. Budongo is an extensive rainforest covering about 500 square kilometers and has the largest mahogany trees in Uganda. Budongo Forest is under the management of the Jane Goodall Institute for Research.
Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is carried out in two phases starting as early as 7:00 am and in the afternoon at around 1500hrs every day throughout the year. The cost of a trekking permit in Budongo is $85 per person and note that they are always in high demand and with only 16 permits printed per day, you need to book in advance. Chimp habituation is only carried out during the low season, and the permit cost is a bit higher than the normal trekking permits.
Kaniyo Pabidi: Kaniyo Pabidi is also located within Murchison Falls National Park with chimpanzees habituated for trekking. Kaniyo Pabidi is under the Jane Goodall Institute, and trekking is carried out in two sessions, one starting early morning with a briefing and the second session late afternoon at around 1500hrs.
What to pack for a chimpanzee photography safari in Uganda
Gadgets: Regarding devices, we will be looking at cameras, binoculars, and other camera equipment that you will need for a good photo safari in Uganda. A point-and-shoot camera is highly recommended, especially if you are not a professional photographer, but if possible, get a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera with an extra lens and ensure the sensor works properly.
You can use two types of lenses: A DX sensor and the FX sensor, which is the full-size sensor resembling the old film size; the type of lens you get will be determined by the kind of camera you have.
Storage is also extremely important when it comes to photography because you need to know how many photos you will be taking while on your safari. Get as many cards as you can, remember to take a laptop, and you can buy other storage devices to avoid the frustration of limited storage space.
When it comes to charging your digital camera, many accommodation facilities have charging points. Make sure you carry cables, converters, and chargers, and remember extra batteries. It is, however important that you find out about the charging points, or else you might rely on charging from the car battery, which is not a guarantee.
Other camera equipment you might need while on your photography safari include a Tripod, extra lenses, and a camera bag to keep all your equipment from dust and heat.
Binoculars are needed for any safari in Uganda because not all chimpanzees will be in the open for you to see. They also help view other wildlife within the national parks, like bird species, animals, and primates.
Clothes: These are important when it comes to packing for a photo chimpanzee safari in Uganda, and they should at least follow certain rules connected to color and other aspects. The clothes shouldn’t be brightly colored, look out for neutral-colored clothes in colors of brown, green, and khaki. Avoid black and blue, which is believed to attract tsetse flies and camouflage associated with the army.
Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers are the best to protect your skin from the sun and scratches during the trek. Please avoid packing jeans if possible because they get wet and heavy and might slow you down. It is also fair to carry at least two pairs of each, depending on the number of days you are to spend on your safari. Do not forget to pack a rain jacket and a warm sweater because the weather in Uganda keeps changing drastically.
Shoes: You will be trekking through terrain you are not used to, and this is where hike boots come in handy. The hike boots do not need to be new, but ensure they are fitting to avoid blisters; they should be ankle length, sturdy, and waterproof. Other types of shoes that you can carry on your safari include canvas shoes and sandals for when you are through trekking.
Garden gloves, Gaiters, and thick socks: The garden gloves are recommended, not surgical gloves, to protect your hands from thorns and scratches from the bushes around. Gaiters are mainly used during the wet season for protection from the rain and although there are different types of gaiters on the market, it is advisable if you get the adjustable gaiters. Thick socks are used both in the dry and wet seasons, and they are to keep you warm and also prevent insect crawls up your trousers.
Other essentials that you should pack for the chimpanzee photography safari include personal toiletries, wet wipes, biodegradable toilet paper, a day backpack, a flashlight, a refillable water bottle, snacks, valid documents, sunhat, sunglasses, insect repellent, sunscreen, a sunhat, and cash among others. Note that the success of packing right is to pack properly and lightly.
Rules and regulations for chimpanzee trekking
Several rules and regulations were put in place to protect the primates from danger while at the same time protecting the tourists. The rules need to be followed by all tourists planning on participating in chimpanzee trekking, and these include the following.
- 12 years is the minimum age limit for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, and there is no maximum age limit for as long as you are fit.
- Please turn off your camera flash when taking photos since they are not used to the flash, which might scare them off.
- When taking photos, make sure that you avoid clearing the bushes to have a clear look at the chimpanzees. This is seen as destroying the natural habitat of the primates.
- Trekkers with infections like flu and cough are not allowed to trek, and this is to avoid infecting the chimpanzees as it might wipe out an entire family.
- A maximum of 6 to 8 people is allowed to trek a chimpanzee family.
- You are to keep a distance of at least 7 meters from the chimpanzees after trekking them, and chimpanzee habituation can take the whole day.
- Tourists are not allowed to feed the chimpanzees, avoid talking loudly, switch their phones to flight mode to avoid disturbance of the chimpanzees, and, if possible, do not put on their sunglasses.
- When planning a photo safari, ask all the necessary questions you might have to get clear answers to them. Contact us through our website if you have any queries and need us to help you plan your chimpanzee Photography safari.
Contact us to organize your chimpanzee photography safari in Uganda today.