Rwanda: Mountain Gorillas Photo Safari w/ Andy Biggs
September 6—13, 2017 | Sold Out!
In September 2017, Andy Biggs will lead a private group of photographers to Rwanda to document Africa's magnificent mountain gorillas. While the only thing separating us from these magnificent animals is the glass of our lens, the experience is peaceful, majestic, and unlike any other place in the world. But it’s not all good news, Mountain gorillas are under increasing threat and these are some of the last remaining places where one can spend time with them in protected areas. Enjoy four days in Rwanda at Volcanoes National Park photographing mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. See these Great Apes up close, learn their names and bring home the prized photographs that only Andy can help you capture.
- Four days of mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda's Volcanoes NP
- A day of golden monkey observation in Rwanda's Volcanoes NP
- Authentic wildlife experiences and premier accommodations
Is This Trip For You?
All Levels Welcome | We’ve designed the trip to fulfill all photographic aspirations. Photographers of all skill levels will use the experience as an opportunity to learn from one another.
We Stay Focused | We emphasize photographing in the field. We will spend most our time and effort on safari / photographic activities and making images.
A Collective Experience | Non-photographer spouses / companions and videographers will also love this safari for the unique access to animals, nature and local culture.
Gorilla Tracking Information
The gorillas tracked in Volcanoes National Park belong to one of ten 'habituated' family groups. Eight permits per day are issued for each group. For many years, these groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually acclimated them to humans and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them briefly in the wild. The gorillas are not tame, thereby only tolerate human presence for a about an hour each day. Experienced guides accompany us while tracking, many of whom have been involved in the habituation process themselves. These guides will brief you on your arrival on the various aspects of 'gorilla etiquette', but the information contained in this set of guidelines will help you arrive for your track well-prepared, and ready to fully enjoy this unique opportunity.
Visitors may track for as many days as they like, on purchase of the required number of gorilla permits. The permits are in extremely short supply, and are often booked as much as 18 months in advance. Only persons over the age of 15 are allowed to track the gorillas. Gorilla tracking is a year-round activity. The rain forest is moist, and it rains very often in Volcanoes National Park throughout the year. Tracking commences every morning from the park headquarters at 8:30 AM. There is a daily maximum of eight visitors to each gorilla group, and each group is accompanied by a guide and porters who will carry your shoulder pack for you.
The gorillas cover large distances throughout the day and rarely stay in one area. The guides will use their knowledge of the gorillas' habits and information from the previous day to locate the group's whereabouts. Because of this, the time taken to track the gorillas can vary greatly, from half an hour, up to nine hours before returning to camp. The terrain can be difficult, with steep trails (often steeper than a flight of stairs) covered in the dense vegetation that gives the park its name. In addition, the altitude of 5200 feet means people must be physically fit to enjoy the hike. Once the gorillas are located, the group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. After this, you will return to the park headquarters and camp.
September 6 | Kigali Serena Hotel | Rwanda
Arrive in Kigali International Airport and be welcomed by our local representative for a 15-minute transfer by road to the hotel. Overnight at the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel, which is built around a polished granite atrium that showcases the very best of Rwandese cultural art. Relaxed, yet elegant, the hotel centers on the Executive Lounge and Bar, which opens onto a wide sun deck overlooking the swimming pool. Enjoy the popular Milima Restaurant and its wide-range of all-day buffet choices, or try the relaxed Sokoni Café with optional pool-side seating.
September 7 | Head to Five Volcanoes NP
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer by road to Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel. With a 3.5-hour travel time, we’ll arrive ready for a refreshing lunch, then relax and take in the sights of the nearby volcanoes. It’s also an opportunity to prep your gear for the next day's mountain gorillas or head into town for local shopping. Five Volcanoes sits near Volcanoes National Park in North Western Rwanda, boasting fabulous views towards the Parc National des Volcans, its five volcanoes (comprising part of the Virunga Volcano range) and distant lowland agricultural areas. At an altitude of approximately 7,000 feet above sea level, the climate is generally cool, and offers amazing views of the volcanoes that rise to nearly 15,000 feet.
September 8 | Gorilla Trekking & Photography
Today, an early wake-up call and nutritious breakfast are followed by the drive to the park offices, where we’ll be briefed by the trackers and escorted to the beginning of the trail. From there, the adventure begins with a trek up the path to encounter the gorillas (see important information on gorilla trekking below). Upon sighting the troop, we’ll stay with them and capture every detail during this magical hour before returning to the base to meet our driver. Depending on trek and drive times, we’ll enjoy lunch back at the Lodge and spend the afternoon processing images and discussing the day. There is also an option (time permitting) to do some shopping at the local cooperative shops or a visit to the ex-poachers' village to learn about the traditional methods of fire-making, archery, medicine, dances and other local customs. Dinner is provided at the Lodge.
September 9 | Gorilla Trekking & Photography
Today requires an early start to visit a different family of gorillas (specific families visited are only determined at the Park HQ on the morning of the trek). After an exciting morning, we’ll expect the same lunch and evening schedule as the day prior.
September 10 | Photographing Golden Monkeys
Finally, an easier trekking day! While it may be easier, we remain focused on getting amazing shots. Golden monkeys are on the top of the list, which are found a lower elevations, making it an easier climb for access. Golden monkeys live in social groups of up to 30 individuals and their diet consists mainly of leaves, fruit and the occasional insect. Restricted to the highland forest of the Virungas, they share the habitat with their big brother, the Mountain Gorilla. Together, they face the same threats; snares, human encroachment etc. and are listed on the IUCN Red List of critically endangered species. After tracking the family for two to four hours, we will spend an hour documenting them as they go about their daily life. Expect much excitement filled with playing, feeding on bamboo leaves and soaring from perch-to-perch, while females carry their young. We then return to the lodge for a refreshing lunch, and open schedule for the afternoon.
September 11 | Gorilla Trekking & Photography
We continue the safari with a third day of gorilla trekking. Another family brings another opportunity to meet and observe these unique individuals. (specific families visited are only determined at the Park HQ on the morning of the trek). The group continues to improve craft under Andy’s help and instruction. Upon returning to the lodge, enjoy lunch, and an afternoon free for your creative or leisurely pursuits.
September 12 | Return to Kigali
Celebrate the fourth and final day with these amazing apes. After a demanding trek, we connect and visit with another family of gorillas. (specific families visited are only determined at the Park HQ on the morning of the trek). With lens caps in place, we return to Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge for a final lunch, before departing on a beautiful drive back to Kigali. Overnight at Kigali Serena Hotel. Tonight you will return to the Kigali Serena and dine at a favorite local restaurant (cost included).
September 13 | Depart Rwanda
With much pride and satisfaction, the safari ends and transfers to Kigali International Airport are included. International flights may be scheduled to depart today to home destinations. See note below regarding travel extensions.
Kigali Serena Hotel | Kigali, Rwanda | September 6—7; 12—13
Ideally located on one of Kigali's most charming boulevards, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is built around a polished granite atrium, which showcases the very best of Rwandese cultural art. Relaxed, yet elegant, the hotel centers on the Executive Lounge and Bar, which opens onto a wide sun deck overlooking the swimming pool. Enjoy the popular Milima Restaurant and its wide-range of all-day buffet choices, or try the relaxed Sokoni Café with optional pool-side seating.
Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel | Sept. 7—12
Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel in Musanze (Ruhengeri) is the perfect starting point for the many activities that Volcanoes National Park has to offer while providing opportunities to simply rest and to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the lodge.
Pricing & Inclusions
This all-inclusive safari costs $14,950 per person. The fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation, as well as, hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below). If you would like your own room for the duration of the entire trip, the single supplement cost will be $1250.
- Accommodation on a shared basis (single rooms may be available; please inquire)
- 1x trip leader (Andy Biggs)
- Private meet and assist services at the airport in Kigali
- Road transfers to/from the airports and the hotels
- All meals and drinks (alcohol is included)
- All permits and fees for the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys
- Private vehicles and drivers for all road transfers throughout the trip
- The current Tourism Levies and all relevant Value Added Tax or Government Sales Tax
What is Not Included?
- International airfare and/or other transportation between your home Kigali, Rwanda back home
- Dinner / drinks in Kigali on your arrival evening
- Gratuities for hotel staff in Kigali
- Gratuities for vehicle drivers in Rwanda
- Gratuities for gorilla trackers, guides, and porters. Recommended tips (in USD) are $35—40 per trek (five treks total)
- Laundry cost at hotels and lodges
- Visas, travel insurance, personal purchases (including curios, spirit liquors, telephone calls etc.)
- Optional pre-/post- safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari (we would be happy to arrange any and all additional overnights or extensions)
This trip has sold out...
However, if you're interested in learning more about future photography trips to Rwanda or want to setup a private photographic journey with Andy, just fill out our inquiry form below!