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Gorilla Photographic Safari

Mountain Gorilla Photographic Safari

19th – 26thApril 2021  – Fully Booked

Group Size: 4

Tour Leader: Tom Way

Join Tom Way on a photographic safari deep into the heart of the Ugandan forests in search of the mountain gorilla. The experience of watching and photographing these magnificent creatures in their natural environment is breath taking whether you are photographing the powerful silverback or witnessing the family bonding and group dynamics. The sole focus of this safari is the mountain gorilla and with 4 treks built into this trip it enables you to see these great apes displaying different behaviours in a variety of settings increasing the chances of coming away with a beautiful portfolio. Tom will be accompanying you on each of your treks along with our guides on the ground to ensure you are in the best position to capture the majesty of one our closest relatives.

Itinerary

Day 1: Depart country of origin (flights and timings will be recommended on booking).

Day 2: Arriving in Kigali during the early afternoon gives us enough time to clear passport control and make our way across the Rwandan/Ugandan border. The drive to our accommodation takes just under 4 hours. We will arrive in time for dinner after which Tom will give a briefing and outline for the upcoming treks.

Day 3,4,5,6: After breakfast we embark on our gorilla treks.  The length of the treks are dependent on the gorilla movements and therefore it is very difficult to estimate exactly how long we will be away from the lodge. A team of trackers will leave ahead of us to locate the group and then we can begin our walk in the right direction. Typically over the last few years, treks have been between 20minutes – 3hours but it is important to note that this is certainly no guarantee. Once we are with the group, settled and begin taking our photographs we will have exactly 1 hour. This is standard gorilla viewing procedure to minimise the impact on the gorillas and also to reduce the risk of transmitting any human viruses across to the animals. Once our 1 hour is finished we make our way slowly away from the group and back down the side of the mountain typically in time for a late lunch. 

Depending on what time we finish each day, the afternoon is a chance to rest and review the images from the trek. Tom will be on hand throughout the afternoon to give processing sessions and 1-1 time critiquing your images. It is important to carefully review, taking note of which photographs are working well and the areas to improve on for the next trek. For those with a little energy left, there is the option for a scenic walk in other areas of the forest and also the chance to visit the local Batwa villages.  We gather again in the evening for drinks around the campfire before a well earned dinner. 

Day 7: We begin our journey back to Kigali airport mid morning in time for our evening departures. 

Day 8: Land back in country of origin.

Guidance and Tuition

The main purpose and objective of this photographic safari is that you are given the opportunity to experience the mountains gorillas in their natural environment whilst being in the right position to take fantastic photographic images. Tom will be guiding you throughout your treks to give plenty of advice regarding composition, settings, angles and how to handle the challenging lighting conditions. Once we are back at our lodge Tom will run various processing sessions and be on hand to critique your images from each shoot, inviting you to ask questions to ensure you are ready to make improvements on the following day. Limited to a group of 4 this safari guarantees that each individual can benefit from plenty of photographic guidance and tuition. 

Camera Equipment 

You will have the opportunity to photograph the gorillas at a close distance (around 7m away) and so big telephoto lenses are not really required.  However due to the light being very low in certain areas of the forest, it does help to have either a f2.8 or f4 lens with you. 

In regards to focal length, it does very much depend on the style of your photography. The 70-200mm 2.8 lenses are very good as they are lightweight and easy to carry giving enough pulling power for portrait images. Tom does occasionally use his 400mm 2.8 lens on this location for even tighter head portraits but this can be avoided by either using a converter with the shorter lens or by using crop sensor bodies. It is also useful to bring a wide angle (16-35mm) just incase you find any environmental images you wish to capture during the trek. Although two camera bodies is not essential, it is recommended as this will not only account for loss/damage but also save you changing your lens mid action.

As we are trekking in the rainy season, there is always the chance we could be caught in a heavy shower. Great for photography – not so good for the camera. To ensure we are able to keep shooting in the rain it is important to bring a waterproof jacket/sleeve for your equipment. If you wish to support the camera in anyway a monopod is the only option. A tripod is certainly not feasible in this environment. Make sure you have plenty of spare memory cards and at least two batteries for your camera. We will be able to charge items in camp but if we have a particularly active session a second battery will come in useful.

Lastly, although not essential, a laptop is a good accessory to bring. In this way you will be able to download your images on a daily basis and see how the photographs look on a larger screen. You will have the opportunity each afternoon and evening to review your images with Tom and be given advice on areas of improvement for the next trek. 

Footwear and Clothing

Whilst trekking, it is best to wear muted clothing with nothing particularly bright. Thick trousers will protect your legs from thorns and insects and if they are waterproof then this will be useful. If not then carrying a light pair of waterproof trousers in your rucksack is recommended. We are travelling in the rainy season and the showers can be heavy. With that said a good waterproof jacket is essential. Other than this, it is simply a question of layers. The initial part of the walk can be cool in the morning and so a fleece would be a good idea, however as the climb gets steeper you will have warmed up and may find just a t-shirt or lightweight long sleeved shirt is sufficient.

In regards to footwear, walking boots are best for this terrain. They provide a good level of grip as well as support your ankles on the uneven ground. Long socks are a good idea to tuck your trousers in and prevent any unwanted visitors crawling up your legs. It is good to note that the laundry service at the lodge is extremely good and so wet/damp/muddy clothes can be turned around very quickly along with wet boots. 

Price And Payment

The cost of the Mountain Gorilla Photographic Safari is $8695. 

The single supplement fee is $450.

This price includes the following:

  • Private car transfers between the airport and our accommodation
  • All meals and accommodation 
  • 4 gorilla permits
  • Cultural visits
  • House brand drinks (soft and alcoholic)
  • Laundry
  • 1 complimentary 30-minute massage each

This price does notinclude the following:

  • International flights
  • Staff tips
  • East African tourist visa
  • Additional spa treatments

Tips

If you do wish to tip your guides and drivers on the safari then this is best at either the end of each trek or at the end of your stay at the lodge. It is of course completely up to your discretion but as a general guideline the following is recommended:

  • Lodge Staff: $5-$10 per person per day
  • Trackers: $10 per person per day
  • Head Guide: $10-15 per person per day
  • Driver: $5-$10 per person per day

Porters: You will have access to porters for each of your 4 treks. This is highly recommended as this will not only save your energy for the gorilla viewing but also ensure that you are able to navigate your way through the forest far more safely. To hire a porter for the day typically costs $15-$20. 

Visa

As we are crossing the Rwandan/Ugandan border it is advised to purchase an East African tourist visa online before you travel. Details of how best to do this will be given at the time of booking. Visa costs are currently $100. 

How to book

If you would like to reserve a place on the Gorilla Photographic Safari then please email Tom at t.way@hotmail.co.uk. If you have any questions about the safari do not hesitate to contact Tom via email or on 07876 333787.

Safari Extension

As with all of Tom’s photographic safaris there is the option to extend the tour if you wish. Two of the most popular extensions from the mountain gorillas are to either make a transfer North to photograph our closest relative: the chimpanzee or to take a short flight across to the Kenyan border to photograph an array of other large mammals including Lions, Leopards, Cheetah and Elephant.  If you do have any questions about extending your safari please do let Tom know.