What Photography Gear Should I Pack for Rwanda, Uganda or DR Congo?

Article from the series: Frequently Asked Questions about Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo

There are a dozen ways to answer this question, and it is obviously very subjective. What kind of equipment do you own? How important is photography to you? What’s your budget like?

The Gorilla Highlands region is very diverse, and different activities call for different equipment. Still, there’s no point in bringing more than you will be able to make practical use of.

Because a lot of the attractions here require moving on foot, weight can be an issue. In the early years I often used a big prime lens (500mm or 600mm) to photograph gorillas, but recently I’ve stuck to zoom lenses – they’re smaller, lighter and easier to use, and modern cameras have such high resolution and good low-light capabilities that it’s become less important to have specialist equipment.

If I was limited to only one lens for a travel story I would go for a 24-70mm or 24-105mm. For wildlife and faraway landscapes, a 100-400mm lens is a handy addition, though if gorillas are the only animals you plan to photograph a 70-200mm lens that lets in more light might be a better choice. More often than not, having more than two cameras and lenses in any given situation is likely to result in you missing out on both experiences and photos because you’re busy replacing equipment or changing settings.

Still, a wide-angle lens can be fun, and if you bring a macro lens you’re bound to be able to put it to good use. Personally I don’t use flash or tripods much. Flash photography isn’t allowed around gorillas, and tripods, though great for night photography, can easily get in the way.

Regardless of equipment, a few things are worth keeping in mind: Never photograph people without asking permission first; always follow the instructions of your guide, ranger or tracker; and don’t mistake a missed photographic opportunity for a missed experience. It’s perfectly possible to create a great memory without having a great photo of it.

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