Some of you may have noticed that I just recently added a picture of Nancy and a few mountain gorillas to an earlier blog post (We just got back from a two-week trip to Africa), and then added a picture of the two of us with our porters to a related article (A Case Of Over-planning On Our Africa Trip?), and we are even having a caption contest right nowlink for a picture of me near a silverback mountain gorilla. So you may have guessed that I finally just began processing the images from that trip. Now I’d like to announce that we have added three new images to our regular collection.
OK, so it’s actually been almost 27 months since our first caption contestprevious. The photograph this time is not part of our regular collection, nor will it ever be, most likely. Nancy took this picture on our trip with Natural Habitat Adventures to Uganda and Rwanda in 2015 to photograph mountain gorillasdetails. As you can see, we found some. We are just starting to process those pictures now.
This shot was taken at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. We were told that we weren’t supposed to get within seven meters (23 feet) of a gorilla on this hike. I’m as far off the trail (which goes off to your left) as I can get, unlike the other three gentlemen, and I’m wishing I had a wider lens. The other three managed to get out of the silverback’s way just after this photo was taken, and we all lived happily ever after.
The winner of this contest will get ten dollars off any print or service of Bee Happy Graphics. Here’s how the contest will work:
For at least the next three weeks, you can enter your caption idea into the comments of this article below.
I will announce the close of the competition and the beginning of the voting process in another comment to this blog post. I may have a plug-in for that by then and will explain the voting process in that same comment.
At least two weeks after that last announcement a winner will be announced. If any entry has three or more votes, the one with the most votes will be the winner. If no entry has that many votes, then I will take an informal survey among my closest family and friends, and pick the winner. The decision of the judges (as defined above) is final. This prize may be combined with other promotions.
In November, Nancy and I went on a tour by Natural Habitat Adventures to Uganda and Rwanda to photograph mountain gorillas. For native Floridians like Nancy, the “mountain” in the name hints that this would be no ordinary hike, so she decided to schedule the trip before she got too old (since you never know when that might happen). On the trip, we did in fact hike on slippery mud trails in steep terrain, and Nancy was glad she didn’t wait too long.
Each person on the tour was assigned a porter on the gorilla hike to help with camera gear and stability. I had very specific instructions for my porter but was concerned about our ability to communicate (whatever we said, they would nod in agreement, but they weren’t all that great on the quiz that followed). These were my intended instructions:
Tend to Nancy first (since she had more gear than I did).
If the gorillas attacked –
Then it would be every man for himself.
But if it did come down to a foot race between our tour guide and I, kick him in the balls and run like hell.
At this point, we wouldn’t be running from the gorillas because our guide should be keeping them occupied while we escape. We were running because if the tour guide somehow survived, he was really going to be pissed (of course I would disavow any knowledge of the porter’s actions). And I was so specific about the kick not because I wanted to be overly graphic or cruel (I could have just had the porter trip him), but because of my concern about a communication error – if the porter got it backward and saved the guide first, I needed something in the instructions to keep him from executing that last part on Nancy.
Because of those communication difficulties (and time constraints), I was never able to fully explain Rule 2 to the porters, but it was just as well. I later learned that there has never been a case in which the mountain gorillas encountered on these tours did any harm to a tourist.
As it turned out the trip was outstanding and we got some great pictures (and we all lived to tell about it). With any luck, I’ll have a few images to show you by the start of our next art festival season.
This was called the Ultimate Gorilla Photo Safari. We spent a week in Uganda and a week in Rwanda photographing mostly primates on the mountain slopes. In Uganda, we first spent two days with chimpanzees. Then we spent two days with mountain gorillas. These were wild animals, but were among the few families that had been habituated to humans – meaning they were used to seeing people and were less likely to run away, or worse, charge you. They pretty much ignored us as they went about their business. Since they share over 95% of our DNA, we were required to stay seven meters (23 feet) away to keep from sharing diseases. Some gorillas don’t know what a meter is. Each day, our exposure was limited to just one hour. Our hikes, though somewhat strenuous with inclines you don’t find in Florida and sometimes narrow, slippery, muddy trails through dense forest, weren’t too bad. A couple times they had to split our Natural Habitat Adventures tour group of ten people in half and the other half managed to get the long hike – one day hiking over twelve miles in several hours (the last few of which were without water). That day they got back to the lodge just before dark and just after it started raining hard.
In Rwanda we visited two more families of gorillas and spent one morning with the golden monkeys. Along the way, we also saw a pride of tree-climbing lions, an assortment of other mammals, birds, and other wildlife. Nancy took lots of pictures and I even took some video. I have no idea how long it will take us to process all of those pictures.