Gorilla photography trips to Virunga national park
Gorilla photography trips in Virunga national park are very exciting because they do give you an opportunity to capture images of closest relatives to human beings while in the jungle. Mountain gorillas are close relatives to human beings hence attracting a lot of travelers, they do live in three countries Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. In DR Congo, we find mountain gorillas in Virunga national park located in the eastern part of the country near Lake Kivu
In Virunga national park, there are 8 habituated mountain gorilla safaris that travelers on a gorilla photography safari can trek. Each of the gorilla families is trekked by a group of 8 people and also these must have gorilla trekking permits. The gorilla trekking permits can be got in advance from Virunga national park main website or a trusted local tour operator at the same fee. The photographing activity starts with a briefing at the park offices where all trekkers are taught about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity and even those of photography.
Armed ranger guides lead the trekkers in the jungle and locating the mountain gorillas is 100% guaranteed because there are advance trackers that go to the jungle early to see where the mountain gorilla family is and then inform the rangers which route to use. The trekking activity takes 2-5 hours of meeting different park primates, mammals, and birds.
During the gorilla trekking activity, once the mountain gorillas are located, the trekkers that want to take photographs must wait for the rangers to tell them if the gorillas are in good mood to be photographed. The photographers always hope to get the best images of the mountain gorillas during the gorilla safari. While photographing, the trekkers will see them eat, play, sleep and groom among others.
Travelers on a photographing safari need to inform their local tour operators or rangers to give them an exciting gorilla family to trek. Each habituated gorilla family in Virunga national park has a different number of apes with some having more silverbacks, infants, breastfeeding mothers, and much more. Trekking any of these mountain gorilla families gives a different experience, photographing can be easy, hectic, or frustrating depending on the gorilla family trekked as well as the location.
Photographers should follow the instruction of the armed ranger guides when photographing mountain gorillas, they must know that these apes are very shy primates and so they should avoid looking directly in their eyes and use cameras that have no flashlight. For better mountain gorilla images, photographers must use the right angles, take time to observe, and then capture the images. Mountain gorilla photography is done with cameras that have no flash because the apes can get irritated and charge sometimes.
Travelers to Virunga national park for gorilla photography are advised to bring lightweight cameras that have telephoto lens to help them capture images of gorillas even when they are far. The camera should have a lens that is 300mm to 400mm range in order to get the best shots. X-factor lenses are the best if your goal is to be the best photographer and share images online. Photographers who want to capture the facial expression of gorillas need to use burst mode which takes several shots at once.
Gorilla trekking is the only option in Virunga national park and so photographers need to take as many pictures as possible in the 1 hour given to be around the apes. Rules and regulations of the trekking activity must be followed especially keeping a distance of 7 meters even though you are photographing.
Travelers intending to visit Virunga national park for gorilla photography should pack waterproof hiking shoes, long-sleeved clothes, gardening gloves, a pair of gaiters, a pair of binoculars, insect repellents, a camera, and extra batteries, a drinking water bottle, and energy-giving snacks among others. On the day of trekking, if the luggage becomes too much, there are porters to help out throughout the whole hike at an affordable fee.
When to have gorilla photography trips in Virunga national park?
Gorilla photography trips in Virunga national park can be done at any time of the year however there are months that are better than the rest. June to September and December to February are the best months to have gorilla photography safaris in Virunga national park because they are characterized by little or no rainfall which leaves the vegetation dry and skies clear for photography. In the dry season, the vegetation is also short with clear views of the mountain gorillas. The roads leading to the park are passable and the trekking trails in the park are less muddy and dry.
Gorilla photography trips in Virunga national park can also be done in the rainy months of March to May and October to November and in these months, the photographers will be able to enjoy huge discounts on the accommodation as well as trekking permits. Travelers coming to Virunga national park for gorilla photography trips should note that in the rainy season there is plenty of rainfall which can destroy the camera, the pictures are not clear because of fog, vegetation is thick with unclear views of the park animals and the trekking trails are muddy and slippery.
Accommodation on gorilla photography trips to Virunga national park
Travelers visiting Virunga national park for gorilla photography have lots of accommodations they can stay in depending on their budget and choice. There are several accommodation facilities around the lodge ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury options and they do include Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters, Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Tchegera Island, and Kibumba Tented Camp.
Accessing Virunga national park for gorilla photography trips
Virunga national park can be accessed by both air transport and road transport. Luxury travelers using air transport can access Virunga national park from Kenya. The flight starts from Jomo Kenyatta international airport and ends at Goma international airport using the Jambo Jet.
Road transport to Virunga national park can start from Uganda or Rwanda. Those in Uganda will have to drive to Kisoro in southwestern Uganda and cross to DR Congo using the Buganana border. Travelers from Kigali have to drive to Gisenyi town and cross to DR Congo using the Goma border. From the borders, the travelers are driven by Virunga national park staff to the lodges or national park.