The story behind Virtual Gorilla

Track gorillas from your sofa with the world’s first virtual reality travel brochure

Imagine putting on a pair of special glasses, blinking your eyes, and starting off on a virtual trip to an exotic country in Africa, in this case, the verdant mountains and expansive plains of Uganda. You will stand eye-to-eye with the magical mountain gorillas, go on a 4WD safari, visit the most beautiful lodges, and meet Big Sam, one of our favorite guides. And all this can be done while sitting in your living room! Is this science fiction? No! It's "Virtual Gorilla", the world's first virtual travel brochure.

 

Download the app

Matoke Tours is the first travel agent in the world to launch a virtual reality travel application. From today, consumers can experience virtual travel at home by simply downloading an app and ordering a cardboard viewer. Once they have downloaded the 'Virtual Gorilla application' and inserted their smartphone into the cardboard viewer, the virtual travel experience can begin. Initially, the 'Virtual Gorilla app' is available only to Android users. Apple users can use the 'Ascape' app which covers five of our VR experiences, read more information about the apps on this page.

Mountain gorillas filmed in 360 degrees

The idea for the virtual travel brochure came about in May 2015 when two Dutch filmmakers from an Amsterdam production company were commissioned by Matoke Tours to film the rainforests of Uganda with special 360-degree cameras.

"Last year, the travel market for Africa took quite a hit by the Ebola epidemic," says Wim Kok, founder of Matoke Tours. "We thought it was time for a positive twist. It seemed an excellent opportunity for consumers to go gorilla tracking through a virtual reality goggles from the comfort of their couch. It is often difficult to describe with words how it feels to stand amongst a group of mountain gorillas, it is a certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that requires a unique medium to help future clients understand how it will feel. With this project we intend to attract positive attention to the mountain gorillas and the beautiful nature in Uganda. Even before the filmmakers went to Uganda, we had decided there would be multiple virtual reality productions since this was an excellent chance to capture 360 ​​degrees of the most beautiful highlights of this country. This virtual travel brochure is the product of that decision."

See the 360 degree video

View the clips below in 360 degrees. Drag your mouse across the video clip to change your position. Are you viewing the videos on your phone? Then move your phone to look around you. '360 degrees' is not the same as 'virtual reality'. With Virtual reality you are really there!!  For the ultimate virtual reality experience, you need Google Cardboard or a Samsung Gear VR Device.

 

Virtual travel brochure with six chapters

The filmmakers eventually made a full 10-day trip through Uganda to film 360-degree panoramas in several breathtaking places. The filming of the gorilla tracking (seen in the clip above) included one mountain gorilla getting up close and personal. As far as we know, this was the first gorilla "selfie" in virtual reality.


In addition to the gorilla tracking, visitors to the virtual travel brochure are taken on various exciting travel experiences. Accompanied by your guide Big Sam, your safari will go by land and by water and you will be able to experience the big skies of Uganda from a hot air balloon. Also, you can explore in advance the lodges where you stay and meet the friendly indigenous people of Uganda. In total there are six virtual chapters that give a comprehensive picture of the travel opportunities throughout the country.

 

How does it work for Android Users?

Android users have to follow these steps:

  1. Download the Cardboard app or Virtual Gorilla app.
  2. Open the Cardboard app
  3. Click on the 360 degrees video channel
  4. Search ‘Project Virtual Gorilla’
  5. Select the playlist (with six videos)
  6. Click on one of these videos
  7. Click on the cardboard icon (the screen will split up in two screens)
  8. Then you have to place your phone in de Cardboard (which you can buy on the internet, for instance here).
 

How does it work for Apple users?

Apple doesn’t support our 360 videos in the App Store yet. Fortunately, for Apple users we found another solution!

  1. Download the app ‘Ascape’.
  2. In ‘Ascape’ you will find five 360 videos of Matoke Tours.

In the chapter ‘Experience wildlife’ you will find the videos: ‘Boat Safari’ and ‘Kiss from a gorilla’. In the chapter ‘Relax after work’ you will find the videos: ‘Balloon ride’ and ‘Most beautiful lodges, Uganda’. In the chapter ‘Guided tours’ you will find the video: ‘Game drive Uganda’

  1. Choose one of the videos and click on the cardboard icon (the screen will split up in two screens)
  2. Then you have to place your phone in de Cardboard (which you can buy on the internet, for instance here.
 

Compatible Smartphones

Please note that virtual reality is a new technique and only the most modern smartphones are compatible for the 'Virtual Gorilla' Experience. Here is a list with compatible smartphones:

  • Iphone 6
  • Iphone 6plus
  • Samsung S5
  • Samsung S6
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+
  • LG G4
  • LG (Google) Nexus 5
  • LG (Google) Nexus 6
  • LG (Google) Nexus 5X
  • LG (Google) Nexus 6P
  • Sony Xperia Z5
  • HTC Desire one A9
  • HTC one M9
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
 

New era in the travel industry?

Matoke Tours expects that with the launch of "Virtual Gorilla" a new era is dawning for the travel industry. The VR experience offers many benefits for travellers who are considering Uganda as a destination: This app enables us to convey the intensity and emotion of the travel experience before the journey has even started. Travellers are then better able to decide which excursions they want to book.

In addition, as a travel provider, we can use virtual reality to highlight specific unique selling points. For example, by filming the lodges where our clients can stay overnight on their travels, as well as by introducing the tour guide (Big Sam), and by filming the 4wd transport.

Tourism Fairs

If you can't download the app, you can still go on a virtual gorilla tracking with Matoke Tours at one of the tourism fairs.  We would love to meeting you, take you on gorilla tracking and tell you everything about what Matoke Tours has to offer.

We will be at:

- Messe Stuttgart (Germany) 16 - 24 January 2016

- Vakantiesalon Antwerpen (Belgium) 21- 25 January 2016

- ITB Berlin (Germany) 9 - 13 March 2016

- Kili Fair Arusha (Tanzania) 3 - 5 June 2016

- WTM Africa, Cape Town (South Africa) 6 - 8 April 2016


Earlier this year, Matoke Tours had a preview of our virtual gorilla project at the World Expo in Milan. Check the reactions of some viewers below...

More information about this project?

For more information you can always contact us!

Wim Kok, Director, Matoke Tours in Uganda:
+56 779 646 072, wim@matoketours.com

Paul Gevers, Director Matoke Tours in Europe:
+31 73 6123 364 or +31 6 28 94 98 33, paul@matoketours.nl


The 360° films are produced by VR Gorilla, a virtual reality production company from Amsterdam. Daan Tan:+31 6 28547649. info@vr-gorilla.com

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