Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Uganda: The Pearl of Africa

A spectacular Lake Edward Sunrise in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.


In my many trips to East Africa,  I had the pleasure of visiting Uganda on two occasions.  I always felt that it was one of the most spectacular places in all of Africa.  I have enjoyed my safaris to the country immensely.  During my trips to Uganda, I have spent time searching for wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki and Kibale Forest National Park and the incredible Bwindi Impenetrable Forest searching for Mountain Gorillas.  The birding in Uganda is some of the best I have ever done.  The first trip I took to the country was safari trip one which I was a participant.  The second was a fam trip that was focused on designing the below program that I marketed through La Selva Expeditions.


To see more amazing images of Eastern and Southern Africa, click the below links:

Gorillas of Rwanda

Eastern and Southern African Mammals

Eastern and SouthernAfrican Birds

Eastern and Southern African People & Landscapes



DAY 1: ENTEBBE: Upon arrival at Entebbe airport, the group is transferred to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Lunch & dinner at the hotel.Overnight Sheraton Hotel Kampala

DAY 2: BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST: After an early morning after breakfast the group is s transferred to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (550 kms - 7hrs), the home of the endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla berengei). Lunch at White Horse Inn Kabale & dinner at the lodge. Overnight A&K Gorilla Camp

DAY 3: BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST: After breakfast the group proceeds for Gorilla Tracking which starts at 0830 hrs. Led by a professional guide we cut our path through the impenetrable forest as we track the gorillas. Viewing the gorillas at close quarters is truly an unforgettable experience. We return to the lodge for lunch. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner at the lodge. Gorilla tracking is done only once a day with groups of six maximum. While part of the group treks to the Gorillas, the rest participate in the many other activities in the region. Overnight A&K Gorilla Camp

DAY 4: BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST: Today the other half of the group is on their Gorilla trek while the other half is participating in many of the other naturalist activities, such as birdwatching trips, nature walks as well as many other options.

DAY 5: QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK: After breakfast the group is transferred to the Queen Elizabeth National Park (200 kms - 3 1/2 hrs). Lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon or evening, the group joins the boat ride on the famous Kazinga channel to enjoy the spectacular game viewing and bird watching found on the shores of the river. We will witness the day to day activities of such animals as elephants, hippos, cape buffalo, Uganda kob and many others. The hundreds of birds include such species as the saddle-bill stork, the yellow-billed stork, skimmers and so many others! Dinner at the lodge. Overnight Mweya Lodge

DAY 6: QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK: The group will have another full day in Queen Elizabeth National Park with morning and evening game drives. Breakfast, lunch & dinner at the lodge. Overnight Mweya Lodge

DAY 7: KYAMBURA GORGE: After an early breakfast the group leaves for Kyambura Gorge for chimp tracking. After lunch, we leisurely proceed to the town Fort Portal(170 kms - 2 hrs). Dinner at the old, colonial style Moon hotel. Overnight Mountain Of The Moon Hotel

DAY 8: KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK: After breakfast we visit the beautiful Kibale forest. This is an expansive region with beautiful primary rainforest containing one of the largest primate population densities on earth. The forest walk is exciting as you look for chimps and many other species of primates and birds. Other animals include forest elephants and buffaloes. Kibale is also famous for its bird life and boasts over 400 species of birds and literally hundreds of species of butterflies! After lunch the group drives through the verdant countryside back to Kampala (325 kms - 4 hrs). Dinner at the hotel. Overnight Sheraton Hotel Kampala

DAY 9: ENTEBBE-END OF TOUR: After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred to the airport for your International flight.


Here are a few images of my trips to Uganda!



Some beautiful ladies seen in traditional dress in a village we stopped to pick up provisions on the way to Kibale National Park to see Chimpanzees.




A spectacular sunrise over Lake Victoria. We were there during the peak of the black-fly emergence.  We saw clouds of flies out in the inland sea and at night they would come in to the lights of the lodge and surrounding village.  The next morning there were literally tons of dead or dying flies littering the entire region.  As inconvenient as this was, the natural spectacle was fascinating.



A strong young bull Common Impala guarding his herom in QE park.



A beautiful Masked Weaver coming in for a closer look at our lunch one afternoon in QE.




These two young boys approached us on the outskirts of Kibale trying to sell us there "basket".  We gave them some food. Evidence of malnutrition was everywhere in the Uganda countryside.




I just couldn't resist taking a picture of this lovely little girl whom we met along the road one day near Entebbe.



I watched this gorgeous Warthog excavate his den all morning long near the lodge at QE.  He didn't seem to mind one bit that I was sitting less than ten feet from him the entire time.



I was blown away to see these Giant Forest Hogs (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni) for a few moments near the forest edge of QE!  They didn't stick around long but they were a great mammal sighting.



These Victoria Vervet Monkeys did appear to be different from their East African relatives.  I am still pretty vague on the precise taxonomy for this group. These were seen in the Entebbe Botanical Gardens just hanging out on the buttress roots of the giant Ficus in the forest.



After hours of trekking Kibale, we finally came across a troop of curious Chimpanzees.  This was a spectacular wildlife sighting for me.  Nearly as impressive as their Gorilla cousins, I was just amazed at how "human" these primates were. 



We saw many primates on these trips. Unfortunately I was unable to identify the majority of the various species we saw in the wild.  But there is no mistaking these impressive Black and White Colobus Monkeys we saw near Semliki.  Wow!



While not completely endemic to Uganda, I have only seen Uganda Kob there.  This impressive bull was seen during a late afternoon game drive in QE.  Later that same afternoon we witnessed a massive herd of over 100 elephants walking their way in to the sunset.  What a sight!



These Oribi were another lifer mammal for me on this trip.  These were seen in QE as well.



This Grant's Gazelle was yet another mammal lifer for me here!  What a beautiful speciman this one was. 



While I was camping near the shores of Lake Edward one day, I was nearly killed by a charging old bull Cape Buffalo - no doubt a kin of these blokes seen nearby.

This little Dega Rat (Desmomys harringtoni) was seen scurrying around the debris of a local store along the road to the Bwindi Forest.




Seeing this contiguous canopy of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, it is obvious how it got its name. This was our location for the Gorilla treks after our close call in Rwanda during a previous trip.  While the adventure story of Rwanda was never matched here, I still had some quality times spent with Mountain Gorillas!  I feel myself to be one of the luckiest people on the planet to have spent so many hours with these amazing relatives of ours.