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My experience in Rwanda and with the Gorillas

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Aug 14th, 2007, 09:31 PM
  #1
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My experience in Rwanda and with the Gorillas

I just returned from 8 days in Rwanda where I went gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, and to Nyungwe National Park. I've posted my photos and thoughts on how to ensure you have the best trip possible. www.shahkala.com/rwanda.shtml

Feel free to ask me any questions while its still fresh in my mind. Rwanda and the gorilla trekking are fantastic and I can't recommend it more highly.
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Aug 15th, 2007, 07:39 AM
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Wow! Gorgeous photos and lots of great and useful info. Will be looking at this thread again in 2008 since I just had to cancel our Nov. gorilla trip-makes me all the more disappointed about not going this year.
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Aug 15th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Beautiful pictures. Did you have a guide with you? If not, did you encounter any problems or difficulties?
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Aug 15th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Great photos--thanks so much for sharing. the trip sounds fantastic--and seeing that little tiny baby is so neat--it's so cute!
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Aug 15th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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Incredible organization and matter of fact sharing of your gorilla trekking experience. Your Rwanda notes and tips are definate savers! Thanks for taking time to make it a fabulous virtual journey for those of us at our desktops! The "watering" of your head was hilarious, however did you not scream out loud??
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Aug 15th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Great pictures and great report.

Your gorilla treks were wonderful. I wish someone had gotten a picture of you face to face with the gorillas!

And sounds like you had it tough in Nyungwe also.
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Aug 15th, 2007, 05:12 PM
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Many thanks for your report and photos.
Photos - Good reminder about autofocus problem. Anytime there is tall grass, leaves, etc around the subject I go to manual focus. (Likely impossible with a lot of P&S cameras). Did you try using flash? Just a "little", maybe down about 1.5 stops. I'm not sure what the effect would be but perhaps it would fill in the dark faces a bit. Perhaps something for some one else to keep in mind and try. Easy to try both ways, with or without. Or, perhaps flash is not permitted with the gorillas? (Could be another problem with a P&S camera since most users do not know how to turn the flash on or off.)
I agree about the video, I use a Canon S2 or S3 for video and as backup. With still photos and short video clips you can put together a neat little DVD slide show to give to family and friends when they want to see photos. I use ProShow by Photodex to make such a DVD program.
regards - tom
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Aug 15th, 2007, 05:54 PM
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That is the best report and photo journalistic thiing I have seen. I have printed it all up to read later. We are so excited as leaving next week to Africa from Australia and doing the gorrilla trek in about 1 month. Doing Botswana at little mombo first then masai mara in kenya and after gorilla to entebbe to ngamba chim sanctauary. I am taking a lowepro all weather backpack with my slr camera lenses and video so wonder about getting a porter to carry it ---how do you organise it and can it be done and how much do you pay or tip. Also how do you chose your guide. posts have mentioned Francois. We are 55 yrs old and moderate fit so how tough is the trecking. We have garden gloves and do we need gaters on our legs.
Thanks for your great post
Mooky
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Aug 15th, 2007, 07:17 PM
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Wonderful! Thanks so much for this: the photos and the accompanying essay are something else. Pretty cool-looking mushrooms. What an experience--lucky you.
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Aug 15th, 2007, 07:27 PM
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gshah18, I really enjoyed reading about your visit to Rwanda. Great details and organization of info. Great pictures, too. Love the baby.

What amazing encounters you had with the gorillas! Both the 'wet head' and 'in your face' are priceless! I also had two brushes with a silverback on my trip in January and I am still in awe.

Cindy
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Aug 15th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Tom, they didn't allow flash when I was there.

Mooky - it sounds like you have quite a trip planned. When you arrive at the spot where you begin the trek they ask if you want a porter or not. There will be several porters available. You tip them at the end of the trek. I was told to tip $5. I tipped $10 one day. You don't have to pick your guide. They will divide you up in groups. If you want a specific guide (or gorilla group) you can request them and hope for the best. I had problems breathing at that altitude but I made it and I don't think I've heard of anyone not making it. Good luck!
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Aug 15th, 2007, 09:28 PM
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What a wonderful report and incredible pictures. I leave in two days for a trek in Uganda. Your story of the female in your face sent chills through me. What an incredible experience. If only I could be so lucky!!!
I am even more excited (if that is at all possible) about the trek after reading about your experiences.

Thanks for sharing.

ndonna
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Aug 16th, 2007, 10:09 AM
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Flash scares the gorillas.
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Aug 18th, 2007, 06:26 AM
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Hi all

thanks for your kind words about the report. Glad it has been helpful. Some answers to some of what I read:

NO FLASH - it's not allowed - if you have a point and shoot, make sure you know how to turn it off - else you are in for a scolding

There were many 50+ people doing the hikes. Reasonable fitness is what it takes. On the other hand, there was one very unfit (putting it mildly) girl who hadn't eaten since lunch the previous day and was in shorts that tried to make it up to Bisoke. Needless to say, she didn't make it anywhere close to the top.

I was on manual focus a lot - one thing that helps a lot is if your lens has 'limited' focus. Technically I'm not sure what it does, but you can set better telephoto lenses to only focus between 2.5 meters and infinity rather than the whole range. This helps tremendously when there are a lot of branches and leaves around your subject -provided that you are further than 2.5 meters away - and sometimes you're not!!!

I don't think you need gaitors unless you want to keep the bottom of your pants clean - and I'm not sure the point of this, because the rest of your pants are going to get dirty. There weren't any leeches.
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Aug 18th, 2007, 08:59 AM
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Thank you for such a detailed report and for sharing so much useful informatio. The photos are absolutely breathtaking. Rwanda may have just moved to the top of my vacation to-do list.
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Aug 26th, 2007, 07:25 PM
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You had some outstanding gorilla experiences. Watching the sit-on-you greeting must have been a little unnerving. I wonder what that gorilla who stuck her face in yours was thinking. Your chance encounter on the way up the volcano was fortunate.

Thanks for sharing the chimp tracking too. Interesting comment about the wet season offering more fruit so less moving around.

How nice you saw the twins. I'm glad they continue to thrive.

What a well rounded Rwanda trip you had. Beautiful photos, especially the baby gorillas.

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