Uganda Birding Photography Tips

Uganda Birding Photography Tips

March 27, 2024
News Journeys Uganda

Are you trying to find safari tips that focuses on birding photography in Uganda? Preserving memories is crucial for any safari, not just a birding expedition. Photography is essential to every safari for birdwatchers. Photographs of unique sightings, lifers, and uncommon birds must be kept. Not only is photography a pastime, but its also a career. Some safari travellers are eager to take images that they can sell. Uganda, with its spectacular wildlife, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture, offers an excellent setting for a photographic safari.

Some of Uganda’s Spectacular destinations for photographic safaris

Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a seasoned pro, here are some incredible destinations to capture the essence of Uganda:

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: This lush forest is home to mountain gorillas, and photographing these magnificent creatures up close is an unforgettable experience. A camera with good low-light performance and a zoom lens (around 70–200 mm) is ideal for capturing gorilla moments. Remember to turn off your flash during gorilla treks.

Queen Elizabeth National Park: Known for its tree-climbing lions, this park offers a rare opportunity to photograph these majestic predators against the backdrop of quintessential East African savanna. Don’t miss the other big game and beautiful scenery.

Murchison Falls National Park: With its palm-dotted savanna, the Victoria Nile, and the dramatic Murchison Falls, this park provides stunning landscapes for your lens. Pack spare memory cards and an extra battery for multi-day treks.

Western Uganda’s Crater Lakes:

These fascinating natural wonders are remnants of ancient volcanic activity and offer breathtaking landscapes. Here’s what you need to know about Uganda’s crater lakes in western Uganda:.

Katwe Crater Lakes (Queen Elizabeth National Park):

Located north of the Mweya Peninsula, Katwe Crater Lake is the highest point in the park. Embark on a fantastic scenic Crater drive spanning 27 kilometres. Along the way, you’ll be treated to mesmerising views of several beautiful crater lakes, like Lake Nyamunuka in Kasenyi, among others. Keep an eye out for wildlife—Buffaloes and Elephants occasionally make appearances. Don’t miss Lake Kitagata, which is fed by salty hot springs. While it may not attract wildlife, its beauty is undeniable. Enjoy panoramic vistas of the Western Rift Valley, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, Lake George, Lake Edward, and the natural Kazinga Channel.

Bunyaruguru Crater Fields:

Unknown to many are the twin lakes of Mirambi (female lake) and Katinda (male lake), Kyema and Kamweru situated on the Kichwamba/Kyambura escarpments; other crater lakes include the Africa-shaped lake Nkugute, populary known as Lake Rutoto, twin lakes of Kisanga and Nziranga, lake Rwizongo, lake Nyungu; and many others. These crater fields are another gem in western Uganda. Explore the area through biking safaris—a popular way to discover the region. The crater lakes here reach impressive depths of over 400 metres. Imagine cycling amidst steep hillsides, surrounded by these ancient geological formations—it’s a picturesque setting for nature enthusiasts.

Kibale Crater Lakes:

Found in the Ndali-Kasenda Crater region, within the western rift valley. Some of these lakes include Lake Nyinabikere, Lake Nyinamirima, Lake Nyinaburitwa, and many others. These Kibale crater lakes are located in southwestern Uganda, approximately 350 kilometers from Kampala.

These crater lakes, once sites of violent volcanic eruptions, now offer serene beauty, nature trails, and unique experiences for travellers. So, whether you’re hiking, cycling, or simply admiring the views, these ancient geological wonders await your exploration.

Near Fort Portal, these crater lakes offer endless inspiration for landscape photography. The jagged Rwenzori Mountains also provide dramatic vistas.

Remember to ask for permission before taking photos of people you encounter during your safari. Enjoy your authentic African experience and capture the magic of Uganda

Essential qualities of a successful bird photographer.

Being a birding photographer in Uganda requires a unique set of skills and qualities. Here are some essential qualities for a successful bird photographer:

Patience: Bird photography often involves waiting for the right moment. Patience is crucial, as birds can be elusive and unpredictable. Waiting quietly for the perfect shot is essential.

Knowledge of Birds: A good birding photographer understands bird behaviour, habitats, and identification. Knowing where to find specific species and recognising their calls is invaluable.

Field Craft: Stealth and field awareness are essential. Moving silently, understanding light conditions, and blending into the environment are critical for capturing natural bird behaviours.

Technical Skills: Proficiency with your camera gear is a must. Understand exposure settings, focus modes, and how to handle different lighting conditions. Fast reflexes are essential for capturing birds in flight.

Composition: Composing visually appealing shots is an art. Pay attention to framing, background, and the rule of thirds. A well-composed image enhances the bird’s beauty.

Adaptability: Birding often involves changing conditions—weather, lighting, and bird movements. Being adaptable and adjusting your approach accordingly is crucial.

Persistence: Birding photographers may spend hours waiting for a single shot. Persistence pays off when you capture that rare or elusive bird.

Ethical Behaviour: Respect wildlife and their habitats. Avoid disturbing birds during nesting or feeding. Follow ethical guidelines for bird photography.

Field Guide Knowledge: Familiarise yourself with bird field guides. Knowing the species you encounter helps you appreciate their uniqueness and capture their essence.

Love for Nature: A genuine passion for birds and the natural world drives a birding photographer. The love for these feathered creatures motivates you to explore and document their lives.

Guidelines to follow on a Photography Birding Safari

Here are some of the many things you should know about taking pictures of birds in Uganda:

You have already paid the entrance fees and are free to capture images of birds in national parks and game reserves. Always ask your guide if it is acceptable to take photos in a given location while you are driving. You might need to ask permission to enter certain sites because they might be private property. Since most people in Uganda are nice, you can always strike up a conversation with them if you want to shoot photos of birds in their yards or gardens. To get assistance with this, always ask the guide.

In Uganda, taking photos of the majority of bridges, petrol stations, banks, police stations, and army facilities is prohibited. It could take some time to get specific permission and authorization from the authorities if you need to go birdwatching in certain regions and take images. Since the bird will not wait, it is best to stick to shooting photos in gazetted places, as they are secure and easy to take.

The photography permission only permits still photos with cameras; using drones or film in the national park will require further authorization. In order to safeguard your photography equipment, make sure you have a waterproof bag with you. You never know when it can rain in the forest. To ensure that you never run out of space and can take as many pictures as you want, carry as many memory cards as you can.

Best time to book a bird photography safari in Uganda

Seeking the ideal time to go on a safari, take photos, and go bird watching in Uganda? Yes, as the majority of birds in Uganda are resident species, birdwatching photography is enjoyable throughout the year.

The weather is a crucial consideration when organising any birdwatching excursion. The two seasons that Uganda encounters are the dry season and the wet season. The roads leading to various birdwatching locations and hiking forest trails are frequently muddy and slick during the rainy season, which sometimes interferes with traveller movements and disrupts birdwatching opportunities.

In general, late May through September is the ideal time of year to go birding in Uganda. Uganda has fewer rainy days at this time, and there is always an abundance of food. May and June are the primary nesting months for the Albertine Rift endemics in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, two significant habitats for these species.

Uganda experiences its most intense rains between mid-April and mid-May, which typically cause disruptions to numerous safari activities. Sometimes, you might have to skip events for your own protection. It is unbearably hot in Murchison Falls National Park in February and early March, but relatively dry in Toro-Semliki. In Uganda, December and January are also excellent months to do a safari that includes animal tours and birdwatching. There is less rain in the nation during this time.

The dry season, which runs from June to August and December to February, is ideal for chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park and gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park. During this time, you may also enjoy fantastic wildlife viewing in all of Uganda’s savannah national parks, including Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and Murchison Falls National Park.

Remember that being a bird photographer is about more than just your technical abilities; it is about fostering a relationship with the natural world and capturing its beauty on camera. This is predicated on distilling Uganda’s breathtaking serenity and presenting it to the outside world.  enchanted setting that preserves memories for future documentation Savour the genuine African experience and soak up Uganda’s allure.

Remember that becoming a bird photographer is about developing a relationship with the natural world and capturing its beauty on camera, not only having technical skills. This is predicated on distilling Uganda’s breathtaking serenity and showcasing it to the outside world. The enchanting environment keeps genuine memories for a true authentic African experience.