Primates Safari: Uganda & Rwanda - Day 9

Cloudy, 67° and rain in the afternoon (heavy rain the night before). Altitude at the start of our hike was 7634 feet hiking up to 8644 feet.

Welcome to the Agashya Group, meaning the Special Group. The group is named after a Silverback that joined the group in 2003. Prior to his joining, the original Silverback had passed and the most senior Blackback attempted to lead however he was not strong enough. The dominant females took over the leadership roles in the group for several years. Agashya, un-habituated at the time, joined the group in 2003 as their new leader. At the first, the females did not accept him, and the senior Blackback never accepted him and later left the group. Watching the reactions of the females when researchers and rangers were observing them habituated him. Today, the group is 22 strong with a number of babies and juveniles. The hike was more strenuous than our previous hikes however, photographing the babies (7 and 10 months old) made the hard work worth it.

Check out these photos from two of my clients, Barbara and Kristina.

Tomorrow, we are off to photograph Golden Monkeys before we start our journey home.
Blogging live from the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

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Primates Safari: Uganda & Rwanda - Day 8

Cloudy, temperature 65. Altitude at the start of our hike was 7634 feet hiking up to 8477 feet.

The Hirwa Group is comprised of 19 gorillas and one Silverback. The Silverback, Lucky, is the second strongest Silverback in the entire region. One of the unique features of this group is a pair of twins, which were born to a mother from the Suza Group. Twins are very rare, only seven twins have been born since the late 1960s, and only three pairs have reached maturity. With lots of juveniles in the group, the Hirwa Group had plenty of activity to photograph.

While the trek was not necessarily difficult at the beginning, once contact was established, the group moved a great deal. Apparently, the blackback (adult male), one female and a baby were missing from the group; the Silverback was on the move in an attempt to locate them. The researchers continue to monitor the whereabouts of the blackback to see if he will reunite with the group or form his own. Since the Silverback was on the move, we had keep up with him during the shooting hour, and man, were we exhausted. Due to the thick bamboo and heavy jungle we had to adjust with high ISOs. It was difficult shooting, but many wonderful images were captured.

During our limited downtime, I have been teaching Lightroom and Photoshop (along with shooting techniques). With only two days left in Rwanda, I wanted to share some images my clients have taken on this trip – I am so proud of their work. Enjoy their images.

Blogging live from the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

#‎Rwanda #‎Wildography #‎WildographandSafaris #‎EyesonAfrica #‎VolcanoesNationalPark #gorilla #photography #travelphotography #Africa #mountaingorilla

Primates Safari: Uganda & Rwanda - Day 7

Cloudy skies, temperature 68 rising to 79 after the hike. Altitude at the start of our hike was 7624 feet hiking up to 8136 feet where we made contact.

Today we trekked to visit the Kwintoga Group of mountain gorillas, which was expertly led by François and Edward – François was one of the original porters for Diane Fossy. At an age of 70, and with more than 30 years of service with the Volcanoes National Park, he is still going strong and provides an amazing look into gorilla behavior. Edward, also a seasoned ranger, has worked with National Geographic and was great at getting us into position. What a perfect team!

The Kwintoga Group, originally from Congo, consists of 22 individuals including 3 silverbacks (all brothers), and one baby less than 6 months old. Three years ago, the lead silverback died and a fight between the brothers finally determined the leader. We encountered the group having a leisurely time feeding and relaxing. The shooting conditions were challenging with heavy cloud cover. Our normal ISO was in the ranged from 2500 to 6400. I selected my D4 and a 70-200mm as my primary gear set. Although I had my D810 with me, I could not use it due to the low light conditions.

After we cleaned-up at the lodge, I took the group to the local farmers market for an authentic Rwandan farm-to-market experience. We’re looking forward to another great day trekking for mountain gorillas tomorrow.

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Primates Safari: Uganda & Rwanda - Day 6

Today was a travel day; we said good-bye to the wonderful Kyaninga Lodge and drove to the Kasese Airstrip for our flight to Kyanika, Uganda. From Kyanika, we drove to the border crossing and entered Rwanda for our next phase of our adventure – gorilla trekking.

Our flight was, for the most part, a low level flight (400-500 AGL) over some wonderful landscapes. Our flight took us over Lake George, and as we crossed the Equator, we were able to search for elephants, hippos, antelopes, and all things in or near the water, including fishermen. Next we flew over the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake George with Lake Edward, and finally into the Ishasha Region, which is home to the Ugandan tree-climbing lions. We climbed to clear the mountains of the approaching Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and landed shortly afterwards at Kyanika. Passport control at the border and we headed for Mountain View Gorilla Lodge.

At the lodge we had the opportunity to watch a dance troupe performing original Rwanda dance. Before I knew it, one of my clients was dancing her heart out with the troupe! What a sight! Tomorrow is another early rise; luckily a classic African rainstorm put me to sleep with ease.

#Rwanda #Wildography #WildographyandSafaris #Uganda #Bwidi #EyesonAfrica 


Primates Safari: Uganda & Rwanda - Day 5

Clear skies with afternoon temperatures mid 80s and humidity at 89%

Our last day with the chimpanzees proved to our most difficult trek, both physically and photographically. The chimps had moved on the other side of the swamp, and deeper into the forest than we had been before. This caused us to do a 'deep dive' hike into the forest with difficult photographic conditions using ISOs in the 6400 range as a normal starting point. Although fewer photographs were taken today, the day was not without excitement. Again we witnessed a number of long-lasting internal conflicts with lots of vocalization. At one point during the day, one of the troublemakers, Totie, ran directly through the line of porters! You should have seen the porters scatter; oh my, what at sight!

Totie, a 21-year old male, is well-known for having a hot temper and frequently charging observers; Totie is trying to climb the hierarchical leadership ladder, however he shows no respect to the alpha male or others in leadership chain. As a result, the rangers tell us that he has no friends within the community. There is a great deal of speculation about Totie becoming the next alpha male.... time will tell.

Tomorrow, we are off to Rwanda for the start of our gorilla trekking.
Blogging live from Uganda near the Rwenzori Mountains