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
    • 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.

Every encounter is different and we will give you the best photographic opportunities to capture spectacular mountain gorilla photos. Witness intimate family moments, framed by lush rainforests and mist-covered mountains, as you contribute to the conservation of these endangered species. With our extensive experience with mountain gorillas, we will ensure that your journey is not only filled with incredible photo opportunities but also with meaningful insights into their lives. This transformative experience will leave you with a profound connection to mountain gorillas, a commitment to their conservation, and a collection of unforgettable moments.

Beyond the thrill of photography, our treks offer a deep dive into the complex social structures and behaviors of mountain gorillas. You’ll learn about their daily routines, communication methods, and the challenges they face in the wild. By participating in this expedition, you are supporting vital conservation efforts that protect these magnificent creatures and their habitats. Join us for an adventure that promises not only breathtaking images but also an enriching, life-changing experience.

Tour Dates:

* 2024: Nov 30 – Dec 5

* 2025: Coming soon!

Tour Leader: Zac Mills

Group Size: 4

Price: $6,295 (US dollars)

Price includes: All meals, guiding, accommodation, and transport from Kigali

Accommodation: Single

Start/End: Kigali, Rwanda

Fitness Level: Moderate

Interested? Contact us now

12 + 10 =

WATCH OUR VIDEO

REASONS TO CHOOSE THIS TOUR

Extensive experience: With 29 mountain gorilla treks and counting, our team brings a wealth of firsthand knowledge and expertise to your mountain gorilla adventure. We know the best spots and the intricacies of mountain gorilla behavior to ensure a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.

Extra guides: We go the extra mile by bringing in extra guides to enhance the quality of your journey, providing in-depth insights, personalized attention, and expert navigation to make your tour even more enriching and enjoyable.

Learn about mountain gorillas: Our tour provides more than just a visual spectacle; it serves as an educational platform to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the importance of conserving these endangered species and their natural habitats.

Photo expertise: Whether you’re a novice or seasoned photographer, our tour provides a unique opportunity to skillfully capture the beauty of mountain gorillas and create lasting memories of your experience.

Conservation donation: As part of this tour, we make a donation to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, who supports vital initiatives to protect and preserve mountain gorillas and their habitats.

ITINERARY

The tour departs from Kigali, Rwanda. Please plan to arrive in Kigali at least one day before the start of tour. If you need any help making your flight arrangements, please let us know.

Day 0 • 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. You can arrive anytime.

Day 1 • 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.

Day 2-4 • Mountain Gorillas

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. 

Day 5 • 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. If you choose to fly out of Kigali this evening, your flight must leave after 6:30pm.

Kigali

WHAT’s INCLUDED?

• Photography instruction
• 4 Mountain Gorilla trekking permits

• Accommodation
• All transportation from Kigali
• All meals and drinks during the tour
• Laundry

WHAT’s NOT INCLUDED?

• Flight to Kigali, Rwanda
• East Africa Tourist Visa
• Tips for guides, driver, and porters
• Travel medical insurance (required)

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY?

5:15am: wake up

5:30am: breakfast

6am: drive to mountain gorilla start point

7:30am: mountain gorilla briefing

8am: start mountain gorilla trek

9am: arrive at mountain mountain gorillas

10am: trek back from mountain gorillas

11am: drive back to hotel

1pm: lunch

2-6pm: relax or photo review

6:30pm: dinner

 

* Actual times may vary. The distance and duration of the hike depend on the movements of the mountain gorillas.

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.

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 focal range do you recommend?

Given our proximity to the mountain gorillas, there’s no need to carry large super telephoto lenses on this tour. I suggest using lenses with focal lengths ranging from 24-400mm, with the 70-200mm likely being your most frequently used option. For capturing environmental shots, a wider lens like the 24-70mm would be your best choice.

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.

Will there be cell service or WiFi at the lodge?

If you have international roaming, the cell coverage is reasonably good. In addition, there is WiFi available at the lodge.

More Questions?

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.

HOW STRENUOUS IS THE HIKING?

The hiking typically takes 30-90 minutes depending on the location of the mountain gorillas. As you make your way through the lush wilderness, be prepared for the variability of the trail conditions—muddy patches and slippery terrain may test your footing. To alleviate any concerns we arrange for experienced porters who graciously shoulder the weight of your backpack and extend their support at every step of the journey. Whether it’s a steep ascent or a tricky descent, rest assured that you won’t navigate it alone. For added stability and balance, walking sticks are provided to assist you as you forge ahead on this memorable expedition.

Our approach is designed for inclusivity, and we take pride in ensuring that the pace of the hike is comfortable for everyone. We understand the significance of the experience and encourage you to relish each moment. To further enhance your enjoyment, we incorporate frequent breaks, allowing you to catch your breath, absorb the breathtaking surroundings, and immerse yourself in this special ecosystem.

MOUNTAIN GORILLA FACTS

Genetic Similarity: Mountain gorillas share approximately 98% of their DNA with humans.

Social Structure: Led by a dominant silverback, mountain gorillas live in cohesive family groups ranging from a few members to communities of up to 30 individuals.

Communication: They communicate through vocalizations, gestures, and expressions, displaying a wide range of emotions including happiness, sadness, and playfulness.

Life Span: They have an average lifespan of around 35 to 40 years in the wild.

Birth Rate: Females typically give birth every four years, with an average gestation period of about 8.5 months.

Herbivorous Diet: Despite their formidable appearance, mountain gorillas are mostly herbivores, mainly consuming leaves, stems, fruits, bamboo shoots, and even ants.

Distinctive Nose Prints: Each mountain gorilla has a unique nose print, akin to human fingerprints, which aids researchers in identifying and tracking individuals.

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 1,063 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 Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is a non-profit organization established in 1978 to continue the conservation work of American primatologist Dian Fossey, renowned for her research and advocacy on mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Following Fossey’s tragic murder in 1985, the organization was formed to carry on her legacy. Dedicated to the protection of gorillas and their habitats, the Fund engages in activities such as anti-poaching efforts, habitat conservation, scientific research, veterinary care, and community development. By collaborating with local and international partners, governments, and communities, the organization aims to ensure the long-term survival of gorillas in the wild and promote the well-being of both gorillas and the people living near their habitats. Part of the proceeds from this tour will be donated to support these conservation efforts.

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH MOUNTAIN GORILLAS

Read our guide on how to photograph mountain gorillas, which covers practical advice on packing, camera gear and settings, and composition tips that cater to photographers of all levels. Once we find the gorillas, the timer starts and we will have only one hour to be immersed in this magical world. During this time, we need to make the most of our photography opportunities.

We also provide optional 1-1 Zoom sessions before the tour, detailed prompts and guidance when we are in the field, and optional post-processing sessions after your tour. We will do everything we can to help you become a better photographer!

PHOTO GALLERY

EXTEND YOUR STAY

Things to do in Kigali

  • Kigali Genocide Memorial: A powerful memorial commemorating the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
  • Caplaki Craft Village: A vibrant market where you can find local crafts, art, and souvenirs.
  • Inema Arts Center: Showcasing contemporary Rwandan art and offering workshops.
  • Kimironko Market: A bustling market providing a glimpse into daily Rwandan life, with fresh produce, fabrics, and more.

Masai Mara Safari

  • Big Five Safari: Explore the reserve to spot the iconic “Big Five” game animals – lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros.
  • Maasai Culture: Interact with the Maasai people, who are known for their distinctive customs, clothing, and traditional villages.
  • Stay at our camp: Experience luxury in the heart of the Maasai Mara. Wake up to savannah views, dine under the stars, and embark on exclusive safari adventures. 

Meet Your Guide: Zac Mills

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.

JOIN US FOR A TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

15 + 11 =

Why Our Photo Tours Are Different

Experience

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.

Conservation

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.

Locations

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.

Photography Focus

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!

Small Groups

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.

Best Guides

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.