Mountain gorilla photography holiday, Uganda

Mountain gorilla holidays

” I’m on my way back from Uganda after seeing the most amazing wildlife in my entire life with the highlight being the mountain gorillas. I feel so very humble from this experience and so incredibly happy. ” Gillian Read

Trekking up lush paths – mist hanging in the air – the expectation is enough to make you tingle. I was first drawn to Uganda to meet the mountain gorillas who live on the volcanic slopes of Bwindi impenetrable forest. Standing just metres from these great apes is so special, that mere words cannot begin to do it justice. But Uganda is more than a one trick wonder. It marks the transitional point between East African savannah, West African rainforest and the semi-desert of the North. Packed with wildlife, boasting 342 mammal species including 18 primates, and over a 1000 different kind of birds. Mountain gorillas might be the highlight; but you’ll also meet chimpanzees, tree climbing lions, elephants, hippos and so much more.

We’ll be a small group of just 6 people and use a comfortable safari vehicle with open top roof to ensure great views of the savanna wildlife in the different National parks that we’ll visit. The photographic opportunities are limitless and this trip is aimed at anyone who has a love of nature. Our mountain gorilla and chimpanzee permits will be exclusive to our group, guaranteeing an intimate encounter and I link up with Gorilla Doctors for this trip. One of their vets will join us for dinner the evening before our gorilla trek and then accompany us the following day.

Uganda wildlife tour

” I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively in many different countries but I have to say this was the best trip I’ve ever done. Amazing wildlife experiences in a beautiful country with lovely people.” Venetia Caine

One of the many things I love about Uganda is how the beautiful landscapes change in such short distances. One day we’ll be canoeing through the Mabamba swamp looking for Shoebills and then the next trekking in verdent forest photographing chimpanzees. Then driving through lush green lake districts before dropping down onto the savanna plains of Queen Elizabeth national park where elephants and lions roam. And then heading up into the gorgeous Bwindi forest to come face to to face with mountain gorillas – one of the truly great wildlife encounters anywhere on earth.

Wherever we go in Uganda the bird life is insane; with over 1100 species of our feathered friends recorded here, opportunities to watch and photograph them will abound on a daily basis. We stay in a lovely selection of guesthouses and lodges that I’ve hand picked over the years and I guarantee you’ll be touched by the warmth and hospitality of the Ugandan people. Over the last 15 years I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively in Uganda and count this gorgeous country as one of my favourite places in the world.

Uganda gorilla holiday - Dates, costs and bookings

Mountain gorilla holidays 2018 trips

Trip 1 – June 3rd to 13th 2018 – To enquire click here

Trip 2 – June 16th to 26th 2018 – To enquire click here

Mountain gorilla holidays – Cost

£3400 per person including all wildlife permits (mountain gorilla, chimpanzee and all national park entrance fees). Excluding international flights to and from Entebbe.

A few links to previous trip reports and more Uganda photos

Uganda mountain gorilla holiday 2015

Great news !!! Mountain gorilla numbers rise by 10%

2014 Uganda holiday trip report

Why I love Uganda

Primates of Uganda

Shoebill photos from Mabamba swamp Entebbe 

Uganda bird heaven

Uganda wildlife holiday - Itinerary

” Adventuring with Ian is so special – especially if – like me- you typically do not like group travel. But this trip is different – there is a relaxed and open feeling and I enjoyed every moment for its presence and richness. The most important moments are not in my photos or memories. They are in my heart. Thank you so much.” Barbara Draimin

We will see and photograph such an immense amount of wildlife on this trip with just some of the highlights below.

Day 1 – Arrival in Entebbe and transfer to the airport guesthouse – don’t be fooled by the name; this is a lovely guesthouse in Entebbe set around a beautiful garden full of birds.

Day 2 – Mabamba Swamp
The Mabamba Swamp – west of Entebbe – is one of the best places in the world to see the Shoebill. After a few minutes in a small canoe, the papyrus reeds open up into a flat grassy wetland where a number of Shoebill can regularly be seen. We’ll see plenty of other birds here too including kingfishers and fish eagles.

Day 3 – To Kibale Forest Nat park
After early morning breakfast we’ll depart from the guesthouse for Kibale, arriving mid afternoon at the gorgeous Kibale forest lodge – a tented safari camp nestled in a beautiful spot where wildlife abounds. Stay Kibale Forest Camp

Day 4 – Chimp walk and Swamp Walk
At 08.00 we have permits for our chimpanzee tracking in Kibale forest which always affords close encounters with chimpanzees which are thriving here. There’s 10 other primate species in this area too !  In the afternoon we’ll visit the Bigodi Swamp – a community based project where the village has trained a number of people to be wildlife guides. We’ll go for a wander with one of them and can expect to see 4 or 5 other primate species and more birds including the Great Blue Turaco. Stay Kibale Forest Camp

Day 5 – Drive to Queen Elizabeth Nat Park.
Early morning departure for Queen Elizabeth N P arriving afternoon at Mweya with a stunningly beautiful view over the Kazinga Channel from our luxury tented safari lodge. Game drive in the afternoon in search of elephants, lions etc. Stay Queen Elizabeth Bush Camp

Day 6 – Queen Elizabeth NP
A day of game drives on the plains of Queen Elizabeth where we should encounter elephants, Ugandan Kob, lions and buffalo. In the afternoon we’ll do a two hour launch trip on the Kazinga channel which has some of the highest densities of wildlife anywhere in Africa at this time of year. Stay Queen Elizabeth Bush

Day 7 – Queen Elizabeth NP
Early in the morning after breakfast we’ll visit the Kyambura Gorge with another opportunity to encounter chimpanzees. After lunch we’ll drive down to the Southern sector of Queen Elizabeth called Ishasha –  famous for its tree-climbing lions which we’ll go looking for on our afternoon game drive.
Stay Ishasha Jungle Lodge

Day 8 – To Bwindi – Gorilla Eve !!!
After breakfast we’ll drive to Kabale for lunch. From here the journey takes us through a beautiful landscape called the Switzerland of Africa. We’ll pass mountains, hills and lakes with cultivated terraces, tropical rainforest and bamboo forest before arriving at the Gorilla Valley Lodge in the southern edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. From the veranda of your rooms you can almost touch the forest which is  home to mountain Gorillas. Before supper we’ll have a presentation from one of the vets from Gorilla Doctors who we make a donation to from this trip. They will also join us for dinner and on our gorilla trek tomorrow. Stay Gorilla Valley Lodge

Day 9 – Gorilla day !!!!!!!
By 7:45 A:M we’ll be at our starting point in Bwindi for our pre-briefing and at 8:30 we’ll start the trek. We’ll be in no rush to do the walk and it’s an enjoyable experience – not one to be feared. The advance trackers will already know where the gorillas are and will guide us to them. Words can’t do justice what an amazing wildlife encounter this is and we’ll be in the mood to suitably celebrate when we return to the lodge later.
Stay Gorilla Valley Lodge

Day 10: –  Drive to Lake Mburo
This is a small but very lovely national park where we’ll do another couple of game drives and can expect to see zebras, impala and other wildlife. One of these game drives will be in the evening giving as the chance to spot an elusive leopard.
Stay Eagle’s Nest Camp

Day 11: –  Back to Entebbe

Our last part of the journey will bring us back to Entebbe. We’ll stop in Mbarara for Lunch and then continue on to the Equator for afternoon tea. Arrival in Entebbe will be mid afternoon and you can either stay one more night there or fly out that evening depending on your flight timings.

” This was my second trip with Ian having been with him to Borneo to see the orangutans two years ago. Our chimpanzee and mountain gorilla encounters were intimate and inspiring but we also saw a huge range of other wildlife during our time in Uganda. Hippos, elephants, buffalo, Red Colobus monkeys, Black & white Colobus monkeys, Vervets, Baboons, Red Tailed monkeys, The Shoebill and so many other birds that I lost count. Inspiring … and now I’ve booked Tanzania too ! ” LInden Crowley

A few more photos from previous Uganda trips – click on any thumbnail to view them larger.

Mountain gorilla holiday - some video clips of our encounters with gorillas


Mountain gorilla holiday - testimonials

“Thanks for a such a great Ugandan trip. As you said, it is a very beautiful country with wonderful people, and a superb variety of wildlife. For me it was like going on holiday with a small group of friends. Thanks for your relaxed,friendly,entertaining and informative tour leadership.”” Barbara Sampson

“We are both quite experienced travellers, used to planning our own trips, but never in a million years could we have assembled a trip like this. Just such a range & depth of experience in quite a compressed period, truly inspirational” Peter and Jenny Barham

“What a trip ! Our small multinational group got on famously and had the most wonderful gorilla and chimpanzee encounters. And also large portions of buffalo, elephant, shoebill, colobus monkey, and kingfisher with a bit of cheetah and cub on the side. Awesome, awesome, awesome. A month later and we’re still buzzing. An amazing country with amazing, friendly people. Even having to bribe the speedcop who pinged Ian was fun.” Russell and Jo Watkins

“This trip to Uganda with Ian was a once in a lifetime experience filled with incredible wildlife, lovely scenery and wonderful people (both on the trip and the Ugandans alike). Ian is a great guide with a vast knowledge of the surroundings and history. Moreover, his warmth and kindness meant that by the time I left after the 10 days, I felt we had gotten to know eachother so well, that it was like leaving old friends. As a primatologist who has seen and worked with a wide variety of primate species including orangutans and ring-tailed lemurs, I thought those experiences would be hard to top. However, our gorilla trek especially was absolutely mind-blowing and one I will never forget. To top it off Ian introduced me to Jane Goodall – possibly making this the best trip ever! Thank you so much for an utterly awe-inspiring experience ! I look forward to another adventure together in the near future !” Carolyn Thompson

“Adventuring with Ian is so special- especially if – like me- you typically do not like group travel. But this trip is different – there is a relaxed and open feeling and I enjoyed every moment for its presence and richness. The most important moments are not in my photos or memories. They are in my heart. Thank you so much.” Barbara Draimin

” I’m on my way back from Uganda after seeing the most amazing wildlife in my entire life with the highlight being the mountain gorillas..I feel so very humble from this experience and incredibly happy!” Gillian Read

” I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensivley in many different countries but I have to say this was the best trip I’ve ever done. Amazing wildlife experiences in a lovely country with lovely people.” Venetia Caine

” This was my second trip with Ian having been with him to Borneo to see the orangutans two years ago. Our chimpanzee and mountain gorilla encounters were intimate and we also saw a huge range of other wildlife during our time in Uganda. Hippos, elephants, buffalo, Red Colobus monkeys, Black & white Colobus monkeys, Vervets, Baboons, Red Tailed monkeys. The Shoebill and so many other birds that I lost count. ” Linden Crowley