Kibale’s rainforest is probably one of the most difficult places I’ve ever photographed. Naturally there’re no paved roads, marked signs of wildlife‘s whereabouts or water points to hydrate. But what’s more challenging are the humid air, extremely tight vegetation and difficult lightening conditions. It’s nature at it’s rawest and challenging at it’s core.

Although chimpanzees aren’t aggressive by nature, they are extremely territorial. When tracking them, this is actually a good thing. You know where to find them. However; this is just the starting point for a good image.

We all know these primates. Whether it’s from the CGI in “Planet of the Apes”, Disney’s “Cimpanzees” or zoos. However, the world doesn’t need another image of these primates from an artificial encounter with a downward positioned angle through reflecting glass or from way up in the trees. This has been well-done and there’s rarely anything interesting in such images. My goal was to be eye to eye with these almost human like creatures to express the emotion in which we can relate to so much.


can safely say I succeeded. After walking hours with fully packed gear through the jungle and kneeling in the mud to get as close as possible I can indeed say I didn’t just photographed him; I actually worked for this image.

The eye conveys a very primal and almost dangerous emotion. I was on this alpha male’s territory and he knows he’s boss in Kibale’s “Planet of the Apes”-esque rainforest.

Jochen van Dijk
Kibale, Uganda