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Ultimate Gorilla Photo Safari

13 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Click for Dates and Prices Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda
Arrive in Entebbe and transfer to the Protea Hotel Entebbe. If time permits, you may opt to visit the famous Entebbe Botanical Gardens nearby. Established in 1902, the gardens house a diverse plant collection from tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones. Also home to a wide variety of birds, the gardens offer an excellent introduction to Uganda’s avian species.  Vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys are commonly spotted here as well. Meet your Expedition Leader at a welcome dinner this evening, where we'll have a full orientation to our gorilla tour.

Days 2 & 3: Kibale National Park
A drive across Uganda’s green highlands takes us to Kibale, the equatorial rainforest reserve that is home to more primates, including 500 chimpanzees, than any other place in the world. Trackers help us spot chimps and monkeys, which we'll have plenty of time to watch and photograph, with tips from our Expedition Leader on how to capture the best shots in the low forest light. We may also see up to 100 different bird species in a wetland sanctuary. Overnight in thatched cottages at Ndali Lodge on the rim of a crater lake, with magnificent views.

Days 4 & 5: Kibale / Queen Elizabeth National Park
We rise early this morning to track and photograph chimps again, then depart by road for Queen Elizabeth National Park, skirting the Western Rift Valley. On the Kazinga Channel we take a boat ride among the world’s largest concentration of hippos, as well as crocodiles, baboons and myriad birds. The park is also home to lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and antelope, all of which offer exciting photography opportunities. 

Day 6: Queen Elizabeth / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
On a morning game drive we may be fortunate to see the park’s famous tree-climbing lions—a dream subject for a nature photographer! Continuing into the western mountains to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, we visit a local school before reaching our gorilla trekking base in the rainforest, Mahogany Springs Lodge.

Days 7 & 8: Gorilla Trekking
Here we discover one of nature travel’s peak experiences, a visit with wild gorillas in their natural habitat. Fewer than 700 mountain gorillas remain in the world, half of them in this preserve. Our safari includes two chances to spend time among the gorillas, maximizing our prospects for amazing photographs, often at very close range. Early in the morning we depart on a trek through the dense rainforest on a quest to locate one of the "habituated" family groups. Our local guides are expert trackers, reading signs of the gorillas’ recent presence in the undergrowth. Finally we hear and see them, and watch, enrapt: they sit in the trees and chew leaves; babies cling to mothers’ backs; juveniles swing from branches; the big male silverback surveys all, including us. It’s hard to tell who is more captivated, them or us! 

Day 9: Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Leaving Bwindi, we descend to the Rift Valley floor, passing local villages and coffee plantations. Entering Rwanda, we continue to Parc National des Volcans—Volcanoes National Park—named for the string of jungle-draped volcanoes inside its borders. Our camp, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, is ideally situated as our base for the next three nights. Set seamlessly into its lush surroundings, the simple yet welcoming ecolodge offers individual chalets with fireplaces to take the chill off the cool mountain air. The lodge is just a short drive from the headquarters of the national park, where all gorilla trekking expeditions depart.

Days 10 & 11: Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
After breakfast, we drive to park headquarters for a briefing from our guides. This area is where Dian Fossey made her groundbreaking studies on mountain gorillas before she was killed in 1985, and her grave is nearby. Several habituated gorilla families live in the park, and we learn how important our ecotourism presence is to their survival before trekking in search of them. We set out early each morning along paths into the forest, eventually leaving them behind as our trackers follow signs that lead them to the gorillas' current location. The altitude is above 8,200 feet, so while our pace is unhurried, the hike is tiring, lasting from 30 minutes to several hours. But what a reward: our destination is a specific group of habituated gorillas, which have become used to visitors and behave normally, nonchalant to human presence. With a full hour to sit with a gorilla troop, we are able to capture extraordinary photographs.

Day 12: Golden Monkey Trek
While gorillas are the highlight, even without them Volcanoes National Park would be fascinating. Its varied ecosystems harbor elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog, bush pig, bushbuck, duiker and hyena, as well as a habituated group of endemic and highly endangered golden monkeys, which are our focus today. On a much less strenuous hike, we look for these agile entertainers who swoop through the forest canopy and delight us with their antics. Our Expedition Leader is on hand to offer tips for capturing shots of the active primates in this low-light environment. This afternoon, we depart for Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

Day 13: Kigali / Home
After breakfast, we’ll take a city tour and visit the Kigali Memorial Center, a deeply moving tribute to the 800,000 people killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. This afternoon, our gorilla safari comes to a close as we transfer to the airport for flights home.
All This Included
To trek into the rainforest and sit with a family of wild gorillas, looking into the eyes of a huge silverback at close range, watching babies cling to their mothers, laughing at youngsters playing in the trees, is a life-changing experience for a wildlife lover. To capture amazing photographs of such an encounter allows you to relive and share these rare moments in enduring images. Our Expedition Leader is both a primate naturalist and accomplished photographer, whose expertise on both fronts will help you go home with photos you only dreamed of beforehand. Your visit to endangered mountain gorillas and other primates in their natural habitat may also be a life-changing experience for them, as ecotourism is the main hope for protecting their future.
  • Accommodations
  • Airport transfers on Day 1 and final day
  • All meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on final day
  • Bottled water
  • Services of NHA Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff, gorilla trackers, and one porter on gorilla treks
  • Most gratuities
  • Four gorilla, two chimpanzee, and one golden monkey trekking permit per person
  • All entrance fees and taxes
  • Four separate gorilla tracking expeditions—two each in Uganda and Rwanda—to maximize photo opportunities with the last of the world's endangered mountain gorillas
  • Complete the primate experience in Kibale Forest National Park to photograph wild chimpanzees and colobus monkeys, and see golden monkeys, too
  • Join NHA’s top Expedition Leaders as we track the famed primates, plus traditional African plains game and predators on the savannas of the western Rift Valley
Entebbe: Protea Hotel Entebbe
Kibale Forest: Ndali Lodge
Fort Portal: Kyaninga Lodge
Queen Elizabeth National Park: Mweya Lodge
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest: Mahogany Springs Lodge
Volcanoes National Park: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Kigali: Kigali Serena Hotel
Pre and Post Add-ons
Custom Kenya Safaris, Custom Days / Custom Pricing
From the vast plains of the Maasai Mara to snowcapped Kilimanjaro, Kenya provides a striking backdrop for Africa’s most classic safari adventures!

Custom Tanzania Safaris, Custom Days / Custom Pricing
With some of the continent’s greatest concentrations of wild animals, Tanzania is duly famed as a top safari destination.
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 11 travelers.
  • Gorilla & Chimp Permits: $2,800 (the cost of these permits may change at anytime prior to departure).
  • Led by Simon Stobbs. Photo tour leaders subject to change.
  • Not Included: Travel to and from start and end point of trip, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance, and required medical evacuation insurance.
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate to Difficult. The strenuous (sometimes very strenuous) treks to the gorillas usually take between two and three hours, but can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as four to eight hours (we’ve had one trek take even longer than that). We travel at a pace to accommodate all hikers. Travelers are not required to participate in all activities and are welcome to forgo any portion of the program. Travelers should be aware that if they turn around due to fatigue, illness or any other reason, the remainder of the group, including the Expedition Leader, will go on. The returning traveler will be escorted by a local guide.
  • Please plan to arrive in Entebbe, Uganda in time for a 7 pm welcome dinner on Day 1. We encourage travelers to arrive a day or more early to rest from their long plane trip. You are free to depart from Kigali, Rwanda after 3 pm on the final day.
  • 2015 dates and fees may change slightly.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.