Levy Lecture: A circumnavigator’s photographic safari to Rwanda

A map of Africa set the mood right from the start in Virginia Mullin’s Levy Lecture presentation and photographic slideshow on Tuesday, June 14, as she shared her experiences from a pre-pandemic trip to see the gorillas of Rwanda in their natural habitat.


Mullin has traveled the world for both business and pleasure. She is a “certified” circumnavigator and said she can recommend things to do and places to explore on every continent.


She shared her passion for travel with the Levy Lecture crowd, describing some of the preparatory requirements like vaccinations and what it was like to travel to and through the jungles of Rwanda.


Mullin’s son-in-law treated her to the trip in 2017. He arranged the major details and kept Mullin apprised of the proposed itinerary and list of clothes and inoculations she would need.


On the day when the group went to see the gorillas, they were cautioned not to wear red “because it made the gorillas angry,” said Mullin. The group was constantly reminded that the humans were the visitors and not the other way around.


Mullin said the trip would have been impossible without the drivers and guards of the jeeps who transported their small group. They carried rifles – not to protect the passengers from dangerous animals but to protect the gorillas from poachers.


Mullin’s photographs of the male silver-backed gorilla, mature female gorillas, a baby gorilla and a few “toddler” gorillas allowed viewers to feel as if they were in the moment.


Over the years, Mullin said she has been tutored by a professional photographer. One of the most startling photographs, of a gorilla’s foot, showed a profound level of detail and texture.


“I loved them,” viewer Susan Slocum said of the photographs. “You made me feel like I was there vicariously.”


A recording of Mullin’s webinar is available on the Levy Senior Center Foundation’s YouTube channel.


By Wendi Kromash as published in the Evanston RoundTable. Ms. Kromash is a member of the Levy Center Foundation Board; she manages and moderates the Levy Lecture Series.