Monday, 5 May 2014

The “Pearl of Africa” photographic Safari

Premier Safaris known for providing some of the most intimate Safari experiences on earth, has launched its Uganda specific photographic safari trips to give participants a unique glimpse into the “Pearl of Africa” ensuring not only an informative Safari but also extended access to remote areas and specialists to ensure a wide range of encounters that can be captured by the wildlife photographer. 

Buffalo at sundown close to Mweya Safari lodge Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk 

This unique access provides enhanced photographic possibilities for photographers to enable them to capture the primate diversity as well as the behaviour and interactions of the wildlife in Uganda. Premier Safaris will meet you on arrival at the airport, and assist through customs to ensure your trip to the microcosm of Africa is a smooth one.

Uganda fast reclaiming its spot as one of the best Safari destinations offers an astounding amount of diversely different biomes and encounters for the photographer to capture.  With over 300 mammals, 20 of which are primates, both diurnal and nocturnal that can be tracked this truly makes for a spectacular photographic adventure not to be missed.
Birding Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk 

Five types of monkeys are found in Uganda including the colobus, guenons, baboons, patas and mangabeys. Some Guenon species are found everywhere in the country in addition to those found in the forest. Patas monkeys have a reddish brown coat, unlike the guenons grey coat and are restricted to northern Uganda in Kidepo and Murchison falls National Parks.

Photo by Albie Venter
A few of the primates in Uganda, for example the bushbaby and the potto are never seen by the tourists as they sleep during the day and are active at night (nocturnal). We have included a guided night walk in the forests to enhance your chances of spotting these guys as well. 

As one can clearly notice, Uganda is a country endowed with Primates that differ noticeably. Making the country, the number one primate destination around the world. But what we didn't know about was its incredible mammal species and wildlife game viewing attractions that makes it one of the best all round photographic trips in Africa. Especially as it doesn't attract the crowds, a vital part of the experience is the sense of true wilderness that is a rare commodity indeed. 

Some of the key aspects that make this such a great trip for wildlife photographers:

Premier Safaris lion trek by Joe Yogurst 

Get off the beaten path in search of lions

Join the research team of “Uganda carnivore research” in Queen Elizabeth National park for an in-depth understanding of the conservation status of lions in Uganda and the challenges that they face.
You will travel with one of the research team as they search for lion prides in the national park to gather information and track their activities. This is an ideal photographic opportunity to go off road in search of lions, and capture their behaviour and interactions.

This exclusive access to remote off road areas of the park is an incredible way to enhance your knowledge of lions, leopard and Hyena and increase your chances of spotting and capturing theses amazing creatures while learning about the different individual’s.

Crater Lakes Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk

The Crater Lakes

Uganda can easily be called the “land of lakes” as almost a third of this microcosm of Africa is covered by water. For the water lovers amongst you, this destination in East Africa is pure bliss.

Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, dominates the southern border of the country while Lakes Edward and Albert lie to the west but it doesn't end there.  Other lakes and more spectacularly the crater lakes are dotted around Uganda like the pearls in its spectacular necklace.

These crater lakes are large holes in the ground or a surface caused by an explosion/volcanic eruption.  Lakes located in dormant or extinct volcanoes tend to have fresh water, and the water clarity in such lakes can be exceptional due to the lack of in-flowing streams and sediment.

Several extinct volcanoes of a specifically violent type called the ‘explosion craters’ are found within western Uganda. From your home base at Mweya Safari lodge on the peninsula you are within easy reach of some of the most spectacular crater lakes Uganda has on offer.

Chimp encounter in Uganda by Corne Schalkwyk 

Chimp trek and night walk 

While you venture into the kibale forest, learn how to track Chimps and the process behind habituation of Chimps. This is a greatly enhanced opportunity for photographers to capture animal behaviour and interaction between Chimps. 

The forest are alive with all sorts of other primates and birding encounters as well as an array of butterflies and mushrooms that make for interesting and challenging photographic opportunities.

Gorilla In Bwindi by Corne Schalkwyk 

Gorillas in your midst 

The rain-forest is spectacular, heavily vegetated and dense landscape crisscrossed by numerous animal trails, allowing access for trekkers. This park is best known for the fascinating gorillas as it hosts more than half the remaining population of the endangered mountain gorillas, where the time taken and terrain varies according to the movements of these fantastic apes.

The thrill of spending time with and observing these gentle giants is a rare and moving adventure that will leave you with long lasting memories of a truly unique experience.

Some of the areas that are included as part of this once in a lifetime photographic exploration of Uganda.

Kibale forest floor by Corne Schalkwyk

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.
Premier Safaris entering Kibale forest 

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.

The Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding destinations to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks, as well as the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is understandably Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savannah, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds.

Photo by Albie Venter

Set against the backdrop of the jagged Rwenzori Mountains, the park’s magnificent vistas include dozens of enormous craters carved dramatically into rolling green hills, panoramic views of the Kazinga Channel with its banks lined with hippos, buffalo and elephants, and the endless Ishasha plains, whose fig trees hide lions ready to pounce on herds of unsuspecting Uganda kob. These famous tree climbing lions are a spectacular site for photographers that rarely get the chance to photograph lions in trees.

As well as its outstanding wildlife attractions, Queen Elizabeth National Park has a fascinating cultural history. There are many opportunities for visitors to meet the local communities and enjoy storytelling, dance, music and more. The gazetting of the park has ensured the conservation of its ecosystems, which in turn benefits the surrounding communities.

Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is truly a Medley of Wonders!

Silverback lodge by John Gibbons 

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in south-western Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda's oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s remaining population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
Young Gorilla by Premier Safaris

This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.

Your specialist guide for the June “pearl of Africa” departure.

Albie Venter studied Nature Conservation in Cape Town, and has been involved in professional wildlife guiding, wildlife management and eco-tourism for the past twelve years. 

Photo by Albie Venter

He has been a member of the Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA) throughout his career, and holds both Level 3 and SKS-DA (special knowledge and skills –Dangerous Animals) qualifications in addition to Bronze Level Guiding Certificate of the Kenyan Professional Safari Guides Association (KPSGA). Albie is a registered Field Guide Assessor for the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa - FGASA.

 An avid Conservationist, he started his career in the pristine Lowveld region of South Africa’s Limpopo province adjacent to the internationally renowned Kruger National Park, later moving on to guide at and manage Game Lodges and Safari Camps in both South and East Africa. Guiding has taken him to many Southern and East African countries and regions - from the rugged Cederberg Mountains of South Africa’s Cape floral kingdom interpreting the ancient rock-art of the legendary Bushman, to leading walking safaris amongst the wildlife herds of East Africa in pursuit of big game.

Photo by Albie Venter 
Albie is a keen photographer with photographs and articles published in several nature based magazines including Africa Geographic, Africa Birds and Birding, WILD, Getaway, Southern African Country Life and East African Travel News.

 Several of his images can be seen in Wildlife Photographic competitions, Calendars and other publications. Albie nurtures an interest in all aspects of wildlife, from invertebrates to the big and hairies - but birds hold a special place in his heart.
Photo by Albie Venter 

 Space is limited for this truly "once in a lifetime" adventure trip to Uganda, remember to book your spot now!

For more information on Premier Safaris visit their website at or email the office at

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See the link to the latest publication by Albie (Premier Safaris tour leader) -

Photo credits: Miguel Angel Pedrera Pomeda, Albie Venter, Corne Schalkwyk, John Gibbons