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Photographing on the Wild Africa Trek, Part II

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

When I left you last week, I was still wearing the safety vest (see below). After visiting with the sunbathing Nile Crocodiles, my Wild Africa Trek group headed overland until we were across from the place where the Safari jeeps first enter the savannah part of the Harambe Reserve. For those who have been on the safari, this is the location drivers stop to point out the large baobab tree.

Here's Scott all decked out in his Wild Africa Trek safety vest in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Here's Scott all decked out in his Wild Africa Trek safety vest.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

Africa Trek Guide Lauren
Here you can see I had my camera secured via a neck strap and that I had on my flash which I used to fill in shadows during the first part of the Wild Africa Trek. You will also notice the black cord above and behind me which was attached to an overhead cable. They make sure you can not fall too far if you do slip. The vest itself had room for small objects in the zippered pockets like an extra camera battery and memory card.

Here we all took off our vests and climbed aboard a pickup-like truck with bench seating in the back with a canopy overhead. The tour guides switched places at this time. The photographer became the guide and visa versa. The bad news about these trucks is they bounce worse than the safari jeeps making photography very difficult when moving. The goods news is they stop for long periods of time when the guide asks the driver to pull over. This is how I got this photograph of the two young African elephants playing near the water. The truck pulled over and we all photographed them. We also stopped for antelopes, gazelles, kudus, giraffes, wildebeest and the Mandrill baboons.

Young African elephants photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Young African elephants photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 280, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

After the elephants, the truck pulled off the safari road and up to a viewing platform which overlooks the savannah and the flamingo pool. We were treated to an African snack made specifically for the tour by Boma's staff and more Jungle Juice. There are restrooms here which were needed by several of us. I can imagine this place being very hot in the summer months. In early December, it was very pleasant.

Viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 280, EV 0, 32mm focal length.

The animals came close but not up to the viewing platform. Here is a photo of a Thomson's gazelle which was grazing about 20 feet from the platform. I watched and photographed him for a long time. Finally, he lifted his head and I was able to get a very nice portrait.

Thomson's gazelle from the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Thomson's gazelle from the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 200, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

This reticulated giraffe played hide and seek with me for most of the time I was watching him. There was some tall palm trees nearby he was ducking his head and neck in and out of. He finally decided to cross over the maintenance road to see if there was better eating on the other side. Notice how his left and right side legs stay together and is called pacing. This is rare. Most animals, including us, have a diagonal gait.

A reticulated giraffe walking near the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Reticulated giraffe walking near the viewing platform on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 100mm focal length.

All to soon it was time to leave as another tour was getting close. In all, we spent about 45 minutes eating, enjoying each others company and watching and photographing the animals. We all gasped in unison a short time later after resuming our ride down the safari road as we saw two cheetahs lying out in the sunlight with another one walking slowing towards them. The guides quickly told the driver to pull over. As this is not a normal stopping area for the Wild Africa Trek, the driver had to be a bit creative as he pulled into the brush directly across from the cheetahs. There was no way I could have gotten this photo of cheetahs together on the regular ride.

Cheetahs rubbing heads in greeting photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Cheetahs rubbing heads in greeting photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, 210mm focal length.

The group of 12 trekkers were a buzz about this encounter for the rest of the tour as we continued down the safari road. We did not stop for the warthogs but did slow down enough for me to get this photo.

Warthog photographed on the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Warthog photographed on the Wild Africa Trek.
Nikon D300/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 450, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

The lions where being their usual cat-selves. Snoozing through the mid-day and not being very photogenic. The tour guide told me it is best to go on the safari around 4 in the afternoon when they are more likely to be active.

The driver dropped us off at one of the safari terminals. We all gave him an ovation for his expert driving and finding a place to stop when the cheetahs presented themselves. We hiked back to the Wild Africa Trek starting location behind Tusker House to pickup our stuff from the lockers and get one last group photo with our guides kneeling in front; Lauren on the left and Eleanor on the right. This photo proves we started out with 12 and ended with 12. As you can see the group consisted of young and old, fit and not so fit individuals.

Scott and his fellow adventures and guides from the Wild Africa Trek in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Myself and fellow adventures and guides from the Wild Africa Trek.
Copyright Disney 2011. Used by permission.

For me, as an avid animal photographer and conservationist, I felt the price of the Wild Africa Trek was in line with what I got out of the tour. The photo opportunities can not be compared to the regular safari experience as I believe the photos I have shared with you over the last two weeks have shown. Everyone who goes on the tour gets a stainless steel water bottle with the Wild Africa Trek logo on it and a photo CD. The CD contains not only photos of yourself and fellow trekkers but photos of the animals taken by the guides. So, if you do not take a camera on the tour or only a small camera, you will still get good photos of the animals encountered on the trek.

The guides were great. They answered mine and everyone's questions, were pleasant, courteous and understanding of everyone's ability to handle the Wild Africa Trek's trails, bridges and bouncy truck. If you go on the tour and get either Eleanor or Lauren, you'll be well taken care of.

If you've already done the Wild Africa Trek, post about your experience in our Review Area.

The previous post in this blog was February 2012 Disney Calendar.

The next post in this blog is Pluto at Chef Mickey's.

Comments (2)

Emma, Surrey England:

Thanks so much for posting this - I'm hoping to book the Wild Africa Trek during our trip in October; I'm even more excited about this tour now! :)

Scott replies: Hi, Emma! I do not think you will be disappointed. Check out my post from last week, too. I cover the first part of the tour.

Penny from Vermont:

Thanks for the post and beautiful photos.

I went last May on the 9 am tour. I loved every second of it and could have stayed at the viewing platform all day. I felt like the Queen of the Jungle up there watching all the "others" below on the Kilimanjaro rides hoping to get a good shot of the animals.

By about 10 am it was getting hot with those vests on but we muddled through knowing that cool water and Jungle Juice was just around the corner(love that stuff).

I think all the guides are great on that tour ( I had Jason and another guide whose name slips my memory at the moment). The next trip I plan to WDW, I will have a special piggy bank set aside to save up for a redo!

Scott replies: I can imagine those vests could get hot even with the mesh backing. Thank you for the mini-review! If you haven't done so, could you add this to the AllEars review page (linked at the bottom of the article). Thank you and have a pint of Jungle Juice on me!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 13, 2012 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was February 2012 Disney Calendar.

The next post in this blog is Pluto at Chef Mickey's.

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