Planning a primate photography safari in Uganda and Rwanda is an exciting endeavor, offering a unique opportunity to capture the beauty and diversity of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. Whether your interest lies in gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, or observing other primate species, both Uganda and Rwanda offer exceptional destinations and experiences. In this article, we’ll guide you through the various primate trekking options, the best time to visit, what to pack, and what to expect on your adventure.
Primate Species to Encounter on a primates photography safari
When embarking on a primate photography safari, it’s essential to know the array of primate species you can encounter. While gorillas and chimpanzees are the most famous, several other remarkable primates await your lens:
Colobus Monkeys: These striking black and white colobus monkeys and Rwenzori colobus monkeys are often spotted during primate treks.
Vervet Monkeys: Commonly found in Akagera National Park, Mgahinga, Volcanoes, Bwindi, and Nyungwe National Park, vervet monkeys provide captivating photographic opportunities.
Golden Monkeys: Known for their bright orange fur, golden monkeys are a remarkable sight during treks in Volcanoes National Park and Mgahinga National Park.
Olive Baboons: These primates are widespread in almost all primate trekking destinations in the region.
L’Hoest’s Monkeys: Found in small, close-knit groups, L’Hoest’s monkeys are endemic to the Albertine region and offer unique photo opportunities.
Rwanda: Primate Trekking Destinations
Rwanda boasts an array of primate species and is home to the Big Five and various wildlife. The country’s national parks offer activities like game drives, bird watching, and primate watching. The key primate trekking destinations in Rwanda include:
Volcanoes National Park: Located in the northwestern part of Rwanda within the Virunga region, this park offers gorilla trekking as its main attraction. It’s home to about 40 mountain gorillas, with around 10 habituated families open to the public. In addition to gorillas, you can photograph other primates such as L’Hoest’s monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, and grey mangabeys.
Nyungwe National Park: Home to the largest and oldest montane forest in Africa, Nyungwe boasts the highest number of recorded chimpanzees in Rwanda. Additionally, you can photograph L’Hoest’s monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, Rwenzori colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, Dent’s monkeys, and grey-cheeked mangabeys during chimpanzee treks.
Uganda: Primate Trekking Destinations
Primate trekking in Uganda primarily takes place in Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for gorilla trekking, Kibale National Park for chimpanzee trekking, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Murchison Falls National Park (Budongo Forest and Kaniyo Pabidi). Here’s what you can expect in each destination:
Kibale National Park: Located in western Uganda, Kibale is home to over 1500 registered chimpanzees, making it one of the best places for chimpanzee trekking in Africa. You can also encounter other primates like L’Hoest’s monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and grey-cheeked mangabeys.
Kyambura Gorge: Situated within Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura Gorge is another chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda. Though it has a smaller population compared to Kibale, it’s a rewarding place for chimp trekking and offers sightings of different monkey species.
Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forest: Found within Murchison Falls National Park, chimpanzee trekking in Budongo Forest and Kaniyo Pabidi provides the opportunity to observe primates living in small groups. While there’s no guarantee of sightings, you may encounter chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and olive baboons.
Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park: These parks are famous for gorilla trekking, with Bwindi hosting the highest gorilla population in the world. Mgahinga offers golden monkey trekking. Additionally, you can photograph other primates like vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys.
The cost of your primate safari in Uganda and Rwanda is influenced by several factors. The price of trekking permits, which is a significant determinant, varies based on the season, transport choices, accommodation preferences, and the primate trekking destination.
Accommodation: Accommodation options range from basic to mid-range and luxurious facilities. You can choose accommodations that align with your budget and personal needs.
Season of Travel: Uganda and Rwanda have two primary seasons: the peak (dry) and the low (wet) season. Peak season tends to be more expensive due to higher accommodation rates and tourist numbers, while the low season offers discounts to attract more travelers.
Transport: You can opt for road or air transport. Road transport is more budget-friendly, while air transport is faster but pricier. Charter flights can be arranged for your convenience.
Trekking Permits: To trek gorillas and chimpanzees, you need permits, which vary in cost. In Uganda, a gorilla permit costs $700, while in Rwanda, it’s $1500. The cost of chimpanzee trekking permits depends on the chosen destination.
A primate photography safari in Uganda and Rwanda is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with these incredible creatures and capture their beauty on film. Contact us to help you organize your safari for any season of travel, ensuring an unforgettable and enriching experience in the heart of Africa’s primate kingdom.