Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda 2023

StartsJul 29th 2023
EndsAug 7th 2023
LeaderSteve Gettle & Nicole Sudduth
Participants6 (Full! )

“Gorilla Trek” – Few words conjure up thoughts of a unique adventure in a far way land like those two words. On this trip, you will experience not just one trek but three full Gorilla treks in both Rwanda and Uganda as well as full Golden Monkey and Chimpanzee treks. In addition to the extensive primate photography that we will do throughout the trip, we are rounding things out with a few game drives to photograph lions, leopards and more as well as a boat ride through the Kazinga Channel to photograph hippos, elephants, birds and a variety of other African wildlife drinking and playing in the water.

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We know this is a once in a lifetime trip for most people and we’re doing it right!

Throughout the trip, we will be staying at wonderful boutique lodges set into the forest habitats or atop mountain sides with gorgeous views. We hand-picked each of these lodges for their excellent service, comfort and uniqueness, which add to the experience so much more than staying at a huge chain hotel. You will experience luxury and comfort combined with personal attention and delicious food which, when going so far away from home, makes travel smoother and more enjoyable.

In addition to this, you will travel in style! We will travel by Land Rover 4×4 vehicles and guided by our true “Silver Back” guides whose knowledge of the places and their personal connections in each location make for an even more rich experience. They know the locations and the people and the knowledge they share provides a wonderful rounding out of the experience.

During our trip, we will have two types of treks:

Gorilla treks will be limited to just our group. Park rules only allow 1 group of 8 people to visit each Gorilla family each day. We will have trackers that go out and locate the Gorillas very early in the morning well before dawn. We will then arrive at Park headquarters where we meet our trek guide. Our guide will lead us through the jungle and be in constant communication with the trackers until we find the Gorilla family.

Golden Monkey and Chimpanzee treks may be combined with a few other visitors coming to the park. Total group size is still small but not as restricted as with the Mountain Gorillas.

All treks will consist of trackers who locate our subjects, a guide who leads us through the jungle and interprets for us as well as armed rangers to keep us safe from elephants and other wildlife. Most treks will also have the option of porters to carry your gear for you.

Physical fitness – A trek to see the Mountain Gorillas can be easy or tough depending on where the Gorillas are. Additionally, we may be at an elevation of 4,000-8,000ft while we do these treks. It could be an easy 1-2 hour hike or a hard 6-8 hour trek through dense vegetation and steep slopes while we search. A trek of 1-3 hours seems to be the average, but it is up hill so it’s ok to take it slow (but not too slow :)!). As a benchmark, we require that you are able to walk 1 mile in 20 minutes. Maintain or build up your physical fitness before embarking on this trip as the slowest walker sets the pace for the group. Walking sticks may be available at park headquarters and you can hire a porter to help carry your backpack/gear for $15 for the day.

Once a trek begins, the group will continue on to the gorillas. Anyone unable to complete a trek will be left behind with his or her porter until our return from the trek. The show will go on even if you cannot, so please don’t expect the group to be compromised if your fitness level precludes your completing a trek. We promise we will come back for you!

In addition to the treks, we will be on safari. Exploring via our 4×4 Land Rovers, we will head into the plains in search of lions, leopards and more. Each photographer will have his/her own row in the safari vehicle giving you the opportunity to photograph from both sides of the vehicle as well as from either the top of the vehicle or the windows. It’s an excellent experience!

And, what about photography from the water? Yes – we have that covered too! We will be traveling by boat through the Kazinga Channel to get eye to eye with hippos, and encounter other wildlife like elephants as they come to the waters edge to drink and play. Bird life along this channel as well as in the lakes that we may explore is incredible. One of our target species will be the odd and famous Shoebill!


Travel Day

Friday, July 28, 2023:
Departure from home

Day 1

Saturday, July 29:
Arrive in Kigali, Rwanda. Private transfer to our hotel for an overnight.

Day 2

Sunday, July 30:
In the morning after breakfast, we will transfer to Volcanoes NP in Rwanda with spectacular views of the Virunga Mountain ranges.

Day 3

Monday, July 31:
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda and cultural walk
We will be up early as we report to the park headquarters for briefing by the senior park ranger guide. We will then set out for our first Gorilla trek to track these gentle giants. We will likely walk through thick vegetation and possibly traverse slippery slopes but it will be worth it! After an hour with the gorillas, we will return to the hotel for relaxation and in the afternoon have the option to take a community walk to Ibyu’wachu cultural village.

Day 4

Tuesday, August 1:
Golden monkey tracking in Rwanda and transfer to Bwindi National Park
In the morning, we will gather at the park headquarters for briefing before going on our golden monkey trek. We will enjoy them as they play in the forest and search for food. Following our trek, we will transfer to Bwindi National Park, arriving at our wonderful lodge by evening.

Day 5

Wednesday, August 2:
Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Uganda and Cultural walk
Today, we will have our second Gorilla trek with another Gorilla family. In the evening, you’ll have the option to go for cultural walk to Batwa community.

Day 6

Thursday, August 3:
Gorilla tracking in Uganda and transfer to Ishasha
This morning, we will have our third Gorilla trek with yet another Gorilla family! Following our trek, we will set off to the Ishasha sector of the world famous Queen Elizabeth National Park, reaching in the park by evening for inner and overnight at our lodge.

Day 7

Friday, August 4:
Game drive and boat cruise
After breakfast, we will set off on our game drive in the Ishasha sector as we look for the rare tree climbing lions as well as other wildlife such as antelopes like kobs, gazelles, and bush bucks among others. We will then drive to Mweya and in the afternoon, enjoy a 2 hours boat cruise along the Kazinga channel connecting lakes George and Edward. Here, we will be rewarded with close range views of crocodiles, hippos, buffalos, elephants and a variety of birds like pelicans, African skimmer and African fish eagle.

Day 8

Saturday, August 5:
Chimpanzee tracking and Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park
This morning, we will go for our chimpanzee trek! Watching these incredible beings interact within the forest, cross steams, climb trees and interact is an incredible experience that you will not forget. Following this incredible time spent in the jungle, we will set off to Lake Mburo National Park for final park of our adventure.

Day 9

Sunday, August 6:
Game drive and boat cruise
Today we will enjoy a morning game drive through the park to photograph the array of African wildlife here. In the afternoon, depending on conditions, we will either continue our game drive or enjoy a boat safari on lake Mburo.

Day 10

Monday, August 7:
Transfer to Entebbe and departure
In the morning after a relaxed breakfast, we will set off to Entebbe. If there is time in the morning, we may enjoy a final game drive, or stop enroute to the airport at the Equator where you will be able to stand and be on both hemispheres at once. We will arrive in Entebbe and check in at the airport for flights home (or, in the case of those going on our Kenya tour, flights to Nairobi).


Payment schedule

Deposit of $1,000 with registration
Payment #2 of $4,700 due February 1, 2023
Final Payment of $4,700 due May 1, 2023

* Pricing based on double occupancy
*** Single supplement (if available) add $1,100

– All lodging while in Rwanda and Uganda
– All meals while at the lodges
– All ground transportation
– 3 Gorilla trek permits
– 1 Golden Monkey trek permit
– 1 Chimpanzee trek permit
– Safari treks and guides
– Boat cruise
– All park entrance fees

Not included

– Air travel to Kigali, Rwanda and from Entebbe, Uganda
– Gratuities
– Travel Insurance
– Any alcoholic beverages

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An adventure into the volcanic mountains of Rwanda and Uganda to be with Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Golden Monkeys and other incredible African wildlife is an adventure like no other and we structured our itinerary to give you the most complete experience possible.

Our trip includes three treks with Mountain Gorillas! There is nothing like being in the presence of these gentle giants as they forage and interact with each other within their forest home. Gazing into eyes like ours, watching mothers nurse babies, seeing how they touch and interact with each other – you will feel the connection.

Mountain Gorillas are an endangered species that only exist in this specific mountain range shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo. It was once expected that Mountain Gorillas would be extinct by the year 2000 but Uganda and Rwanda have taken actions to restore and protect their mountain habitats. Today, approximately 1,000 individuals live and, at least for now, thrive in this mountain area. We will be going into the heart of this habitat and unlike most tours, we will be going in from both Rwanda and Uganda on three full treks to give you best experiences possible!

In addition, we will have 1 trek with Chimpanzees, our closest relative with whom we share 98.8% of our DNA. Here, we trek through forest gorges and jungle habitat as we find them foraging and interacting together within their troop.

Golden Monkeys are another endangered species that we will trek to on this trip. There are just 5,000 left in the world. With their distinctive markings, this is another unique primate that few people get to spend time with. To get to these monkeys, we will be going to the area where their largest population exists, giving us the best photographic and personal experiences possible.

Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Golden monkeys will be our focus of this adventure, but you can’t go to Africa without seeing lions and other iconic species! So, unlike other tours, in addition to being in the Impenetrable Forest and on the tops of mountains in the volcanic range of Africa, we will give you the taste of the safari! We will be taking you to two other very rich savannah areas where lions, leopards, hippos, elephants and other iconic African wildlife roam. Traveling by safari vehicle, each photographer will have their own row to shoot from as we search for this wonderful wildlife.

In addition, you’ll have the chance to shoot from a different perspective – the water! We will be heading through the Kazinga Channel via boat. Here, we will look to photograph Hippos, crocodiles, elephants and other wildlife at eye level in water as well as birds like kingfishers, storks, fish eagles and more that are found in this habitat.

We will cover ground through this trip – After arriving in Kigali Rwanda, we transfer to Volcanoes National Park, the site of our first Gorilla trek, in the Virunga mountain range. For all of our treks, highly trained gorilla trackers will have spent the early morning hours locating the family with which we will spend our morning. They will be in constant contact with our guides ensuring an efficient hike through the jungle. Each participant will have the opportunity to hire a local porter to carry your gear to and from the Gorillas for a small fee. Unburdened by your gear, you will have a more enjoyable walk through the jungle.

The following day, still in Rwanda, we will have our Golden Monkey trek and then transfer to Bwindi National Park in Uganda. From this location we will enter into the Impenetrable Forest for our second Gorilla trek. As we search for the Gorillas, we will walk along ancient trails made by Forest Elephants. Here we will also have the opportunity to visit the Batwa Community, a local indigenous tribe.

The next morning, we will return to the Impenetrable Forest for our third Gorilla trek. In the afternoon, we will transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here, we will enjoy game drives where we search for the amazing tree climbing lions and other African Wildlife as well as our boat ride through the Kazinga Channel in search of hippos, elephants, crocodiles and avian wildlife.

We saved something special for our final trek – we will go in search of our closest relatives, the Chimpanzee, and enjoy watching and photographing them as they course through the forest, cross streams, interact with each other and forage for food.

Rounding up the trip, we will have a day and half at Lake Mburo National Park for final game drives through the park and possible boat ride to explore the lake.

This will be a very full trip, giving you encounters with Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Golden monkeys and more as well as the experience of the African safari!