Congo Sunrise

20mm, f/8, 1/50s, ISO100

One of the reasons I enjoy immersive travel so much is that it’s too easy to miss out on powerful experiences if your trip mainly focuses on “highlights”. I am almost always up before sunrise, no matter what, because … well, why would I want to be asleep when a new day begins? How many chances will I have to see the sun rise at Lake Bunyonyi, or the Mongolian Altai, or Ericeira? We have to make the most of the time we have.

Gorilla tourism is a case in point. It is not an activity that begins at the crack of dawn, and it doesn’t last all that long, so it can mean a fairly relaxed morning — at least by my standards. Seeing the gorillas is, understandably, the main focus, but there is so much more to some of the places where they are found!

Kahuzi-Biega NP in DR Congo is one of my favourite parks in Africa. It’s relatively off the beaten track — well, most of the DRC is — and the only place where it’s currently possible to see Grauer’s gorillas in the wild. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful sunrise spots I’ve ever seen. Even the park HQ, where I usually stay, faces east across Lake Kivu and the valley in which it rests. In the mornings it is often covered by low-laying clouds, as it is in this photo. And yet, unless you stay on site and get up early enough, it’s a sight most gorilla tracking tourists won’t ever see.

Don’t miss our extensive interview with Marcus and head to his website for even more.