In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight… ok so it’s the savanna rather than a jungle, but the saying is still fitting. How many times have you, or someone you know, say they have never seen the lions or cheetahs on the Kilimanjaro Safari because they are hidden behind rock and shade? Maybe if you’re lucky you can slightly catch a small tuft of fur or a foot sticking out in the distance. While nothing is ever guaranteed in Disney, especially when it comes to animals, I hope to offer some useful tips so that you and your family can have the best chance possible to get those perfect shots. When trying to get that perfect photo there are some very important things to keep in mind:
1. Rope Drop is KEY!
We arrive an hour before park opening to get into position. Once the ropes are dropped, we head straight for the safari. Now I know this plan may not be for everyone as the mass majority of guests run straight for Pandora, but if that is not your thing (or you already have FastPasses booked) then this is a great option to zig when others zag.
The other reason it is important to rope drop the safari is that the animals have all just been released from their backstage homes into the savanna, meaning they are bright eyed and bushy tailed (pun intended) and often more active. Every time I have experienced the safari at rope drop, I have seen at least one, if not all of the lions and they have offered some amazing photo-ops! If we went back around again, as we often do, by the time we make it back to them, they are snoozing away.
2. Have a good camera!
Now I love my IPhone’s camera for just about everything. In my opinion, it takes better photos than my Nikon. The only exception is, for the safari. The most important thing is to have is a long zoom. I have the Nikon Coolpix L120 that has a 26x optical zoom. There are far more advanced cameras out there today that will zoom even farther, and you may already have one in your possession. Keep in mind that using a camera that has a quick focus is also important, especially when using a higher zoom. There’s nothing worse than having your camera take forever to focus and then the driver zooms ahead just as you are ready to snap that shot!
3. Ride twice!
Our usual Animal Kingdom plan is to rope drop the safari first and then as soon as we finish, we use a pre-booked FP and ride again. This allows us the best chance to see as many animals as possible. Sometimes we see ones that weren’t released yet on our first ride and we find that we get a better chance at snapping a photo of the cheetahs on the second trip around.
4. Where You Sit is Important!
Sometimes you can’t choose your row if it is busy, but you can try to nicely ask a Cast Member to seat you in one of the middle rows. The back of the truck gets very bumpy, which will jostle the camera, and by the time you make it to a good view point, the driver is ready to move on. You also don’t want to be in the front, because the driver will be in your view. When the doors open, you want to be the first one to enter the truck. Placing you on the driver’s left hand side. Sitting on the left will give you the best view of the Lions and cheetahs. Make sure that you are not seated in the center of the row or your view will be obstructed by others around you. If your family takes up an entire row, have one person sit on either side of the truck to get photos of all the animals.
I can’t promise what you will see as the animals always make sure each safari is unique, but if you are looking for your best chance to catch some amazing shots, this has been my tried and true for quite a few years now and it never disappoints!
I would love to hear about any added tips you implement in your daily plan and if you give my method a try on your next trip, tell me about your experience in the comments or on Facebook! Qua harini everyone!