2018 TRIP REPORT
Big Fish Expeditions 2018
Primate Safari in
a Nut Shell: There are no
adjectives that can adequately describe the diversity, sheer
biomass of animals and quality and intensity of the
encounters we enjoyed.
We saw 13 species of primates and photographed 12 of those
at close range. We also saw Africa's Big Five and so many
other exotic creatures that I can't squeeze them all into
this trip report.
We ran two 9 day trips. Almost all of the animals shown
below were seen by both groups. One group got better rhinos,
the other got better lions. That's Africa but no one went
home disappointed. The term 'Life Changing Trip' got thrown
around on this expedition more than any other trip we've
done. I can't wait to get back next year and do it all over
That is more than enough banter. Here is what
This what is was all about and the gorilla encounters were
incredible. They sat, they ate, they swung from trees, they
brushed past us and one even grabbed one of our guests by
the t-shirt and tried to lead her off into the jungle. For a
minute I thought she might go along with it :)
Gorilla trekking isn't a walk in the park.
Its hard work hiking up through the cloud forest to where
the gorillas are feeding but the terrain in Bwindi
Impenetrable Forest make the journey as magical as the
The baby gorillas could not have been cuter!
Spending time in Kibale National Park with our closest
relatives was a real highlight of the trip.
Their human-like expressions suck you in. I
cannot help but wonder what this chimp is thinking. Is he
sad, happy, or just at peace?
These guys were everywhere we went; in the forest, on the
savannah and hanging out on the country roads. They like
open spaces where they can see predators from a distance but
they are always ready to slip back into the forest at a
moment's notice e.g. if the alpha-male screams at them.
Olive baboons raiding weaver bird nests on
the banks of the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National
These unusual monkeys are the cheetahs of the primate world.
They live on the savannah where there are not many trees so
they have had to pick up the pace. When chased by a predator
they can run at speeds of more than 50kmh.
Size-wise, the next monkey down is probably
the Blue Monkey. We saw these cute but elusive
primates in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest while gorilla
While in Bwindi and also in Kibale National
Park we came across troops of
Kibale was fantastic for primate diversity.
Each week we did a smamp tour where we saw L'Hoests plus
redtail monkeys, red colobus monkeys, Guereza Colobus
monkeys (aka black and white colobus monkeys) and Grey-cheaked
Red Colobus Monkey
Guereza Colobus Monkey
On our night walk in Kibale we also spotted
two species of Galegos: Thomas's and Demidof's. They are
fast little monkeys so I only managed to get images of the
larger Thomas's Galego when it
froze for a few minutes mezmirized by our torches.
Finishing up the primate list for this year
is the Vervet Monkey. Vervets are a super-species
which is the fancy way of saying multiple species that all
look alike and are too hard to identify accurately in the
field. So these could actually be tantalus monkeys, green
monkeys or maybe even grivet monkeys. Either way, they are a
common primate that is not camera shy. We saw troops of them
in or near each park that we visited.
First stop out of Kampala was Ziwa Rhino
Sanctuary; a small but fabulous game park where you can
literally walk with wild White Rhinos.
We also bumped into a large herd of
domesticated Ankole Cattle. This ancient breed has massive
horns and is considered a separate sub-species from all
other cows: Bos taurus africanus.
Our second destination was Murchison Falls
National Park - one of the most spectacular parks in East
It is tough to find a spot anywhere within
this enormous protected area where you won't see animals of
one description or another. The park boasts more than 900
Rothschild Giraffes, 40,000 Uganda Cob, 1400 African
Elephants, Huge herds of buffalo, Jacksons Hartebeests,
Oribi and so much more.
On Safari in Murchison Falls N.P.
Bush ferry across the Nile.
Some of the 40,000 Uganda Cob in the park.
Waterbuck in Murchison Falls N.P.
A shy Bushbuck. This species is not uncommon
but they are quick to disappear when they know they've been
Common Warthogs taking a bath in the midday sun.
They do this to keep cool and to deter parasites.
African Elephant herds in Murchison Falls can be
huge. We have seen more than 100 individuals moving
nose-to-tail along traditional migratory routes.
Reedbucks on the Savannah. First time I've
seen this elusive species in Uganda.
A brief glimpse of a
Tree climbing lions. We usually see a few
lions in Murchison but this was a particularly good
encounter. Mom climbed up and waited for her fur balls to
gingerly join her. The took a little coaxing and she finally
went down and grabbed the bottom by the scruff to lift him
off the ground for that initial boost.
In the evening we had a short encounter at
the lodge with a family of bush pigs. Unlike the warthogs,
these are nocturnal forest dwellers and very shy around
Although not as high or wide as Victoria
Falls, Murchison Falls is the powerful waterfall on Earth.
The top of the Falls is a great place to look
for yellow headed agama lizards; an endemic species only
found in Uganda.
After Murchison we moved to Kibale where we
saw many of rthe primate species on the trip. Then we
continued on to Queen Elizabeth National Park. This involved
a quick stop at the equator for a group photo!
While there we saw many more elephants and
lots more of the antelopes that we had seen in Murchison
including more lions.
We also did a river cruise on the Kazinga
Channel whic was a packed with more elephants and buffalos
and hundreds of hippos.
During the day, hippos spend most of their
time in the water but we were lucky enough to see some on
the shore. One showed us why hippos are considered to be the
most dangerous animals in Africa!
As well as hundreds of mammals, the river is
a great place to photograph exotic birds like this
Speaking of birds, while we were in Kibale,
we found a pair of crowned cranes; the national bird of
We also went to visit a habituated group of
We drove south from Queen Elizabeth to Bwindi.
On the way we came across a herd a Topi. A black faced
antelope that looks a lot like a hartebeest.
Then it was time for our gorilla trek.
Armed with hundreds of images and incredible
memories we headed back to Entebbe for the flight home but
our animal encounters were not quite over. On a country road
we found a colony of what I believe were
Fruit Bats. Bats are difficult to identify so I could be
wrong but either way, it was fun watching them jostling for
the best roosting sites.
There were more encounters but I have crammed
in most of the highlights. It was a phenomenal trip
that I can't wait to repeat. Join us next year for our next:
Gorilla Trekking and
Ugandan Primate Safari