Mountain Gorilla Photo Tour
Lock eyes with a silverback
- The ultimate wildlife experience
- Photograph mountain gorillas from just a few meters away
- Benefit from our extensive mountain gorilla experience
- Golden monkey optional add-on
- All meals, accommodation, and transportation from Kigali
- 5 nights, 4 mountain gorilla treks
Have you ever dreamed of photographing mountain gorillas up close? It’s one of the best wildlife experiences you will ever have. As we trek through the bamboo forests in Uganda, you will marvel at how these majestic animals welcome us into their world — a world that you won’t want to leave.
Seeing mountain gorillas in person with your own eyes is a special experience that you will cherish forever. Every encounter is different and we will give you the best photographic opportunities to capture spectacular mountain gorilla photos. With our extensive experience of over 20 treks with these gentle giants, we’ll show you the strategies and techniques we use to capture the personality and behavior of these amazing animals.
Tour Highlights: One of the best wildlife experiences on earth
* Dec 3-8 (full)
* Dec 8-13 (full)
* 2024 dates coming soon
Tour Leader: Zac Mills
Group Size: 6
Price: $5,995 (US dollars)
Price includes: All meals, accommodation, and transport from Kigali
Location: Kigali, Rwanda
Fitness Level: Moderate
WATCH OUR MOUNTAIN GORILLA VIDEO
MOUNTAIN GORILLA CONSERVATION
As recently as 15 years ago, mountain gorillas were on the brink of extinction. But thanks to a concerted international, national, and local effort, the population has doubled and now there are an estimated 1,000 mountain gorillas in the world. However, persistent challenges remain, such as habitat loss, disease, charcoal making, and poaching (they can be caught and harmed by snares set for other animals).
The International Gorilla Conservation Programme is a unique coalition of international conservation organizations joining forces with national and local partners to ensure the long-term survival of the endangered mountain gorillas. Part of the proceeds from this tour will be donated to support these conservation efforts.
GORILLAS IN THE MIST
This tour is all about mountain gorillas and this specific location was chosen because it offers the most intimate encounters and the best photography opportunities.
Mountain gorillas are majestic. There’s simply no other way to say it. With DNA strikingly similar to our own, mountain gorillas are social beings and travel in groups of 5 to as many as 30.
Did you know that the nose print of a gorilla is unique to each individual gorilla much in the same way as the human finger print is unique to each human being?
There’s so much to learn, appreciate, and admire about these incredible animals. When you stare into the eyes of these gorillas, you are left with a profound feeling of connection. It is an experience unlike any other!
Our typical day starts shortly after sunrise. After a quick coffee and breakfast, we will drive to the starting point of our mountain gorilla trek. The drive itself can take anywhere between 30-60 minutes, depending on road conditions.
Once we arrive at the starting point, we will begin our trek to the mountain gorillas. Trackers will already be well ahead of us and communicate the exact location of the gorillas.
Once we find the gorillas, the timer starts and we will have one hour to be immersed in this magical world. During this time, we need to make the most of our photography opportunities, but sometimes the moment is so special that it’s worth putting the camera down (at least momentarily) to take it all in.
After our time is up, we will hike back to our starting point and drive back to the lodge for a shower and hearty lunch.
For the rest of the afternoon, you can either participate in the optional golden monkey add-on or relax on the hotel grounds. At night, we will have a hearty meal, discuss our images from the day, and review any questions that you may have.
Mountain gorilla photography is tricky. The lighting is tricky. Balancing exposure is tricky. And the terrain is tricky. It is easy to take a lot of photos, but volume doesn’t matter in photography. It’s quality over quantity. With our extensive expereince of more than 20 mountain gorilla treks, we will take you to the best location and the best mountain gorilla families for amazing photography opportunities.
We want help you to become a better photographer. Before the tour, we will have 2 hour long one-on-one sessions with you to understand your shooting style, discuss topics of interest (such as field techniques, composition, post-processing), and provide guidance to help you grow as a photographer and storyteller.
During the tour, we will have at least 2 optional image review sessions so that we critique our images and make necessary adjustments while we’re in the field. After the tour, there will be 2 more hour long one-on-one sessions to help you choose and edit your favorite images from the tou.
Our policy is simple: ask us anything at anytime about gear, technique, strategy, composition, post-processing and beyond. We are here to help you!
GOLDEN MONKEY EXTENSION
Golden monkeys are a unique monkey species found only in the high-altitude rainforests of the Virunga conservation area of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And they are fun to photograph. With long golden hair that’s mixed with orange, they are very photogenic and typically quite active as they feed in the bamboo forest. With up to 100 members in a troup, there will be no shortage of golden monkeys to photograph.
It is possible to visit the golden monkeys after our morning mountain gorilla trek. Similar to the mountain gorillas, once the family is found we are only allowed to spend one hour with them. Please note that golden monkeys live apart from the mountain gorillas and it will be a long day of hiking. However, visiting a habituated golden monkey family is a unique and rewarding experience that is a nice complement to the mountain gorillas.
MEET YOUR GUIDE
As a wildlife photographer, traveler, and former World Bank economist, Zac brings a different perspective to wildlife conservation. He founded the Wildlife Collective to help others become better wildlife photographers and to use their voice for conservation. With leadership roles in several conservation organizations, Zac knows first hand that working together with like-minded individuals can make a difference. Zac hopes to entertain you with stories from the wild, inspire you to get involved in conservation, and to become the best wildlife photographer you can be.
The tour departs from Kigali, Rwanda. Please plan to arrive in Kigali by December 3rd before because we will depart in the morning for Uganda. If you need any help making your flight arrangements, please let us know.
Arrive in Kigali, Rwanda
Our photo tour starts in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel to spend the night.
Kigali to our Uganda Lodge
After breakfast, we will drive to our Uganda lodge just across the border, where we will prepare for our first mountain gorilla trek the following day. Expected travel time is approximately 3 hours.
For each of the next 3 days, we start the day with an early breakfast before we drive to the starting point of our mountain gorilla trek. After a welcome briefing from our Uganda Wildlife Authority guide, we will trek through the forest to our designated mountain gorilla family. The duration of the trek depends on the location of the mountain gorillas, which changes from day-to-day. Typically, the trek lasts between 30-90 minutes and requires a small elevation gain. Once we arrive at the mountain gorillas, we have 1 hour to be with them. After the 1 hour, we retrace our steps back to the starting point of the trek, return to our vehicle, and drive back to the lodge for lunch. After a relaxing afternoon, we will also have dinner. We follow this routine for the next 2 days.
*Optional add-on: Golden monkey trek in the afternoon
Back to Kigali
On our last day, we will have our 4th and final mountain gorilla trek. Afterwards, we will collect our belongings from the lodge, eat a quick lunch, and then begin our return journey to Kigali, where we will say good-bye.
* Optional extension to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya (more details coming soon). We can also help you to add your own additional excursions in the region.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How many mountain gorillas will I see?
Mountain gorilla families contain silverbacks, blackbacks, infants, and every age in between. We are likely to see around 10 different mountain gorillas eating, playing, and interacting with each other.
How strenuous is the hiking?
The hiking typically takes 30-90 minutes depending on the location of the mountain gorillas. It’s manageable for almost anyone. In addition, there are porters are available to carry your backpack and to help you every step of the way. If you can have any questions or concerns, please let us know!
Do I need an East African Visa?
Yes! The East African tourist visa costs $100 USD and is valid for 90 days in Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. This visa will allow us to easily cross the Rwanda-Uganda border. It is also very east to acquire — you can purchase it for $100 US dollars upon arrival at the Kigali airport.
What is the golden monkey add-on?
For an additional $100 USD, you can trek in the afternoon with one of the most beautiful primates that exisits, the golden monkey. Their beautiy is derived from their bright coloured fur and long golden hair that is mixed with orange. In addition, golden monkeys live in troops of about 100 and are lead by an Alpha male. They mostly feed on bamboo shoots, a variety of seasonal fruits, bamboo leaves, lichens, sprouts, flowers, leaves and small invertebrates.
What will the weather be like?
The region where we are going has no real dry season, so rain is always possible! However, there tends to be less rain in December.
Because mountain gorillas, as their name implies, are found in the mountain at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet, the temperature is more temperate. Typically, the temperature ranges from approximately 13 degree Celcius at night to 23 degrees Celcius during the day.
What focal range do you recommend?
Anywhere from 24-400mm. You do not need a super telephoto lens since we will usually be quite close to the mountain gorillas. And you can often get tight portraits at the 400mm focal range.
The flexibility of a zoom lens is very important since mountain gorillas are typically on the move, and the ability to zoom in and out is very helpful. For example, some of my favorite images were taken at the 50mm focal range on my 24-70mm zoom lens.
For these reasons, we recommend that you bring a variety of focal lengths that can be used over the course of our 4 treks.
Can I bring a tripod?
What's the cell coverage like?
If you have international roaming, the cell coverage is reasonably good. In addition, there is WiFi available at the lodge.
Send us an email and we’ll be happy to arrange a time to chat through everything with you and answer any questions you may have.
• 4 Mountain Gorilla trekking permits
• All transportation from Kigali
• All meals during the tour
• Photography instruction
WHAT’s NOT INCLUDED?
• Flight to Kigali, Rwanda
• East Africa Tourist Visa
• Travel insurance (required)
JOIN US FOR A TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
Why Our Photo Tours Are Different
The essence of life lies in its experiences, and it is our unwavering mission to gift you the very best of them. We strive to craft our tours with care and authenticity, making each adventure a vibrant chapter in the story of your life.
All of our tours have a conservation focus. We will learn about the challenges facing our primary subject and ongoing conservation work. Plus, every tour makes a donation to a conservation partner.
We take you to the world’s most amazing wilderness destinations, carefully selected for their unparalleled beauty and chosen based on our commitment to providing guests with the very best wildlife experiences.
We welcome all levels of photography and provide optional photography sessions before, during, and after the tour. With our hands on learning, you are going to leave our tour as a better photographer. Ask us anything at anytime!
We believe that small groups give the best wildlife expereinces. We do not exceed 6 clients per guide, and in most tours, the ratio will be even smaller. This ensures that you get the personalized attention that you deserve.
We work with the world’s best wildlife guides, who also happen to be our good friends. They are experienced, keep us safe, and put us in the best possible position to have the best wildlife experience.