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 7 people including me 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.
“My trip to Uganda turned into a wonderful, unforgetable adventure. To find myself in such beautiful places, so incredibly close to an amazing variety of wildlife that I have, all my life, only marvelled at in books & TV documentaries was a surprisingly emotional experience. From the rareshoebilll in swamps to chimpanzees & awesome gorilla families in their forest homes. Lakes filled with exotic birds, crocodiles & hippos. And so fortunate to see up close lions & leopard relaxing in trees on the savanna. We watched beautiful sunrises & sunsets from our comfortable lodges. Oh yes nearly forgot – my photograhpic skills have definately improved & I have some pleasing photos that I shall cherish forever. So a big thank you Ian. Warmest wishes Pat “
Uganda wildlife tour
” Ian is a great guide with vast amounts of wildlife and cultural knowledge. Moreover, his warmth and kindness meant that by the time we’d finished our Uganda holiday, our group had bonded so well that it felt like leaving old friends. Our mountain gorilla trek 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
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 dates
NEW – January 2023 date now confirmed – Contact me here to enquire about availability
DATES: 11th Jan to 22nd Jan 2023
Below are a link to trip reports from our last three Uganda mountain gorilla holidays.
January 6th to 17th 2019 – photos and trip report are here.
June 3rd to 13th 2018 – Trip report and photos are here.
June 16th to 26th 2018 –Trip report and photos are here.
Mountain gorilla holidays – Cost
£3700 per person based on sharing double/twin room including all wildlife permits (1 mountain gorilla trek, 2 chimpanzee treks and all national park entrance fees); breakfast, lunch and dinners, drinking water. Excluding international flights to and from Entebbe. We can provide single rooms subject to availability and these cost an additional £320. We are now also offering the option to do a second mountain gorilla trek the day after our first one and this costs an extra $700 which is approx £580.
A few more links to other trip reports and more Uganda photos are below:
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. Late afternoon drive to Kisoro.
Stay Traveller’s Rest Kisoro
Day 10 – Gorilla day two – optional
We now offer people the opportunity to do another gorilla trek in Mgahinga National park which costs $700. For those who don’t want to do the 2nd trek they can chill at the lodge.
Stay Traveller’s Rest Kisoro
Day 11: – 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 12: – 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
“My trip to Uganda turned into a wonderful, unforgetable adventure. To find myself in such beautiful places, so incredibly close to an amazing variety of wildlife that I have, all my life, only marvelled at in books & TV documentaries was a surprisingly emotional experience. From the rareshoebilll in swamps to chimpanzees & awesome gorilla families in their forest homes. Lakes filled with exotic birds, crocodiles & hippos. And so fortunate to see up close lions & leopard relaxing in trees on the savanna. We watched beautiful sunrises & sunsets from our comfortable lodges. Oh yes nearly forgot – my photograhpic skills have definately improved & I have some pleasing photos that I shall cherish forever. So a big thank you Ian. Warmest wishes Pat x”
“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
“Just returned from an incredible adventure in beautiful Uganda, wonderful people and amazing experiences of a life time. Gorilla, chimpanzee, giraffe, lion, zebra, buffalo, hippos, antelope and a 100 bird species! Unforgettable!,’Rob and Chris
“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
“Thanks again for organising such a fantastic trip to Uganda, with such a lovely bunch of people. Our Guide Ronnie was an absolute treasure and a credit to his family. Seeing Gorillas in the wild was definitely one of the favourites on my mental bucket list, and in reality it certainly didn’t disappoint! Seeing them in the wild was fantastic, but the adventure of tracking them was exhausting but absolutely amazing! Each day brought new adventures. The trip into the Kyamburu Gorge was another brilliant day, and I hadn’t realised just how different in looks and personality each of the Chimps were. I’ve seen them at Monkey World in the UK, but it’s a whole new experience to actually meet them in their natural world! Being so close to them and looking into their eyes was a very emotional experience. The whole trip was fantastic, and when I look back at my photos I can’t believe how much we actually packed in. As I’ve already said, each day brought new and different adventures and I feel very lucky indeed that I was able to play a part in those adventures. Kindest regards to you Ian, and I hope one day to be part of another adventure. ” Val
“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