Feeling at one with nature is something our photography volunteers in Victoria Falls feel right away. Living within the Zambezi National Park, they're immediately immersed in another world upon their arrival - a world filled with every African animal you can dream of. Volunteering in Africa is always a unique experience - but this project takes it to a whole other level, as you'll hear from volunteer Gustavo...
I am not a professional photographer. I am not from USA, England, Australia or any other country where people speak English. I did not know anything about wildlife before coming here (and I will be honest: I'm still not so comfortable with bugs). Of course, I was a bit worried about what I was going to find in Victoria Falls.
Although, in a few hours I was already feeling myself at home in the Zambezi National Park. The staff, always very nice and friendly, helped a lot for that.
I have mainly four different ressearch activities here, related to mammals, insects, predators and birds.
Being a photographer in the field is completely different from what I usually do in my regular job. Here, we need to stay alert all the time and get our eyes used to the bush, because at first you are aways confused about what you are seeing.
Your models are not humans who you can ask to smile, look at you and turn their heads to the light: animals are always in movement and you need to understand their behavior to not lose the best opportunities. By the way, this is the most interesting part of the project: you really start to learn a lot about wildlife and then you feel yourself like being part of it. You are not a tourist or a visitor; you become part of the environment. This is the moment when you truly start to respect nature.
More than just increase my photography skills, this experience makes me realize how important is to get involved with anything that you are about to take pictures, no matter if it is a landscape, a bird, an insect, a footprint, a lion, an elephant or a human being. When the day is over, you can feel the awesome sensation that you are doing a good work for a very noble cause - and I love it!
About the Author
Gustavo Fernandez is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. You can learn more about his adventures as a photography volunteer in Victoria Falls on his Facebook Page.