Wildlife viewing is an art because it requires creativity, enthusiasm, love for all living things and a lot of patience. It allows you to go places you would never go to for practical reasons, but because it is awe-inspiring and brings home good memories.
Successful wildlife viewing is an adventure, because it exists in the chaotic and unpredictable world of nature, there’s often the unexpected. A rewarding safari adventure allows you to understand the natural world and it’s inhabitants, and to learn new things that you can use in your everyday life. When you encounter a wild animal in its own natural habitat, you get positive memories that stay with you for a life time and that’s how you know your wildlife viewing adventure was successful.
In a bad wildlife adventure experience one or both of these elements are missing:
Our professional Uganda safaris guides, with the help of Wild Sweeden’s secrets to wildlife watching, have put together some of the best kept secrets of a successful wildlife viewing while on an Africa Safari in Uganda.
First and important note; When you’re out there in the wild among the animals and beasts, always keep in mind you’re the visitor!
Obviously if you want to observe a particular type of animal, you’ll have to go where that animal lives. So, you need to figure out where the population is distributed geographically. No matter how hard you try, you won’t find tigers in Uganda. If you really wanna see a tigers, try India.
When you know where to go, you should also find out what other wildlife you can expect to see in that area, and find out a little bit about them. Consider your budget and the amount of free time you have available, get your tickets, and then go out and meet nature.
Tree Lions only found in QENP, Ishasha section
Most species of wildlife change their behavior throughout the year.
You know Wildebeest migration is concentrated on the southern short grass plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti with calving taking place in late January and early February. Other than in that season, you’ll not find them migrating.
Wildlife viewing in Africa is generally best during the dry season when the lack of grass and foliage increases visibility, and the animals and birds are forced to congregate around limited water sources. Broadly speaking, equatorial East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda) has its main dry season from June to October, with a secondary drier season from mid-December to mid-March. November is historically known as the time of the ‘short rains’, whilst April and May host the ‘main’ rains.
However, it can rain at any time in East Africa and so the seasons somewhat merge into each other. In particular December to March is rarely rain-free, which is just as well as rain falling in the Serengeti is crucial to keeping the wildebeest herds on the southern short grass plains where they calve.
Depending on which species you are interested in, you should learn more about their behaviour patterns throughout the year, and then decide when to go. Ultimately you should be in the right place during the season when you are most likely to see the animal.
As you consider when you might be able to travel for an African Safari, we would also point out the following general wildlife viewing influences:
You also need to figure out in which habitat you are most likely to see the animal. Type of landscape and plants are important parts of wildlife habitat.
Your best chances to see a mountain gorilla in the thick mountain forest of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. If you want to see a leopard, you need to search in the Savannah plains.
So basically, you need to be in the right region, and the right season, but also in the type of nature that they prefer.
Lions rest on hot Summer day after a midday hunt. Leopards are most active at dusk and dawn.
Pay special attention to information about their daily lives and behavior – their feeding, sleeping, and breeding habits, for example — and what environments they prefer so you’ll know where and when you’re most likely to see them.
Figure out the best time of day for viewing by imaging an animal’s daily schedule. When does it feed? Rest? Drink? Dawn and dusk are usually good bets for most wildlife. A dry, hot, sunny afternoon is not the best time to be out.
Most animals will see, hear or smell you long before you are aware of their presence. They observe you and, depending on how far away you are and how you act, they decide to stay, defend themselves or flee.
Keep talking to a minimum and use hand signals whenever you can. Step lightly, not to break twigs underfoot and turn off your cell phone. These are of the rules you’ll be told before you embark on a gorilla trekking experience.
Whether you’re searching for wildlife or observing it, you’ll be more successful if you rely on more than just your eyes. Listen for cracking twigs or branches, animal calls, or the flutter of birds’ wings to help you locate animals.
While you’re watching animals, listen to the sounds they make.
Most species have a sense of smell that is far more developed than your human senses.
For most animals smell and hearing are more sensitive than their eyesight. Therefore it can be more important not to let the animal smell you than it is not to be seen.
Always move against the wind as much as possible. Don’t wear colognes, perfumes, scented lotions or hair products.
Try to fade into the woodwork by wearing natural colors and avoid bright clothing. If you wear a white hat you will shine like a lamp. Clothes that don’t rustle are best. Dress in silent clothes.
Find a good spot and be prepared to wait. Sometimes you will see more by sitting quietly for a while and just wait for an animal to come in front of you. Waiting may sound like a boring thing to do, but waiting in nature is often both relaxing and more rewarding than you expect.
The equipment you will need will vary depending on where you’re going. Make sure to bring appropriate clothing for the climate, and dress in layers. Your best bet is to ask a local what to bring. Write a packing list.
If you’re hiking solo, let somebody know where you will be and when you expect to be back. Research the area if you’re unfamiliar with it, and get a map and compass or GPS device if appropriate.
Remember to bring a camera and binoculars. Our guides never leave home without binoculars. You see so much more.
And don’t forget to bring something to eat. Even the shortest excursions gets better with some snacks.
A guide sounds great! But is it really worth the money?
Well, that all depends on your budget of course, but one thing is obvious; with an experienced local guide you can see more wildlife and at the same time learn more about the lives of the creatures you see.
Of course, if you are thinking of joining a guided wildlife tour in Uganda, we would love if you come with us at Naturetrack Expeditions! Our guides will make sure that all of the above steps are taken care of. Our speciality knowledge is to be in the right place at the right time, to see the animals.
Here are some tour suggestions for wildlife viewing in Uganda