Project Description

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Chimpanzee and Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

  • $11,950 pps

  • 8 Days

  • Uganda

  • September 2025

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Gorilla trekking to photograph mountain gorillas is certainly a “huge tick” for most wildlife photography enthusiasts. On this photo safari, you will do two gorilla treks as well as spend a day in the company of a troop of chimpanzees guided by one of the top primate photography specialists in the world – Nelis Wolmarans.

Add to this the chance to see the amazing Shoebill stork and you have the best Uganda photo safari package on offer! Nelis is an award-winning wildlife photographer and has won several prestigious awards including Nature’s Best.

This Uganda Chimpanzee & Gorilla Trekking photo safari is limited to a maximum of six photographers plus Nelis. These dates are designed to dovetail with our Masai Mara Migration Photo Safari for 2025.

two gorillas
 
shoebill stork mouth open
 
chimpanzee face
 
Gorilla feet
 
gorilla trekkers
 
gorilla trekking porters
 
shoebill stork
 
gorilla face
 
chimpanzee eating
 
gorilla eating
 
black back gorilla
 
young gorilla eating
 
chameleon
 
gorilla feet close up
 
The group will meet at the Protea Hotel which will be our base for the time we spend in Entebbe. Waiting for you at Entebbe International Airport will be a VIP meet and greet service to bring you to the hotel to meet up with Nelis and the rest of the guests.

The Protea is only a 10-minute drive from Entebbe Airport. We have chosen to stay in Entebbe as opposed to the nearby capital Kampala, not only because it is more convenient but also due to its proximity to the Mabamba Swamps, where we will be photographing the African Shoebills the next day.

On the first evening, Nelis will host a dinner at the hotel where the groups will get to know each other and Nelis can answer any questions you might have about your upcoming chimp and gorilla trekking adventure.

After breakfast, the group will head off to the Mabamba swamps to hopefully see and photograph the fascinating Shoebill Stork – as well as the other 260 bird species that inhabit this corner of Uganda. The Mabamba Swamps are around 2500 hectares in size and covered in papyrus, gerns, water lilies, and other grasses crisscrossed by waterways that we will explore by boat. The morning is preferred, as this is when the shoebills are most active and hunting.

We will start the trip into the swamp from Banga Beach in a speedboat for the 30- to 40-minute cruise to a point where we transfer to smaller dug-out canoes to access the narrower channels where the shoebills live and hunt.

We will return to The Protea Hotel for a late lunch, and then, after a bit of rest, we will head out to see if we can find more Shoebills (and in case we didn’t get lucky in the morning). Doing both a morning and an afternoon will also offer different light and photo opportunities.

Either way, in the morning or the afternoon, Nelis will host an image review session at the hotel as well as a detailed briefing on what lies ahead for the chimpanzee and gorilla trekking in Uganda.

We will depart the hotel in the morning and head to Entebbe airport to catch the flight to Kasese – which is the closest airport to Kibale Forest National Park. Our home for the next three nights will be Chimpundu, which is on the edge of the forest, and from where we will commence the two treks to see the Chimpanzee over the coming days.

We have arranged extra luggage for everyone to include your camera bag, so you will have 15kgs for luggage and 10kg more for your camera gear.

If we have time on the first afternoon, we will take a guided walk in the Bigodi Swamps, which Is one of the top birding destinations in Uganda. In addition to that, there is an excellent chance to see some of Uganda’s primates, such as Black and White Colobus monkeys, Red Colobus Monkeys, Blue Tailed Monkeys and Mangabeys. The swamps are also home to several Sitatunga and Bushbuck. the walk will take around 2-3 hours.

Dinner and image review sessions will take place back at Chimpundu Lodge, with everyone going to bed early to prepare for the next day.

It is an early start with a quick breakfast, and then we head off into the forest at first light to locate the chimpanzees. This initial search can take anywhere from an hour to two depending on where the chimpanzees “nested” the night before. You will most probably hear them waking up before you see them. As with all wildlife encounters, nothing is guaranteed but the success rate of finding the chimps during the day sits at over 90%.

We have opted for two 1-hour encounters as the members of the troop tend to be most relaxed and easy to photographs opposed to a “habituation” trek which is longer with the chimps but they are wilder and more tricky to take photographs of. As soon as the chimps are located the clock starts and you will have a full hour with these amazing animals. As they move so do you and they can move quite quickly as they head off to forage. They do however stop to rest and that is when you will get the best shots of them interacting. The group could vary in size from a few individuals to a troop of over 20.

With chimps being so closely related to us it is very easy to start to recognise individuals In the group and the guides will be able to explain to you how the complex hierarchy works in the family you are with. Chimpanzees are incredibly social animals (expect plenty of grooming, fighting, and mating) and they are super curious so don’t be surprised if you start wondering who is “visiting” who as they stare deeply at you! It’s an incredible experience!

The afternoon will be spent back at Chimpundu lodge reviewing your images with Nelis before dinner.

The next morning we will set off on the second of our chimpanzee encounters having spent the afternoon and evening before going through our images and deciding perhaps what shots you are going to seek out at the second opportunity. As we said photographing in dense jungle can be challenging so doing two treks on consecutive days is optimal in our opinion.

Once again there will be plenty of time to go through your images back at the lodge afterwards.

The next morning, we will head back to the airport at Kasese for the short flight to Kihihi which is the closest airport to Bwindi.

And so on to the main event (although guests often say that the Chimpanzee tracking experience was certainly an equal!) gorilla trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

But first, we should address the elephant in the room.

Why do we choose to go see mountain gorillas in Bwindi, Uganda and not The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda?

We need to first appreciate that Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo basically share the same mountain range, which is home to the vast majority of the endangered mountain gorillas left in the wild. The gorilla families often disregard these borders anyway and cross freely between the countries!

Over the last few years, Rwanda has adopted a policy of marketing to a high-end clientele with the development of several 5-star lodges and a huge increase in the price of the gorilla permits to over 3 times what they were only 5 years ago. As we like to go gorilla tracking twice on a safari this would mean that the gorilla permits would equate to $3,000 on their own. the cost of a gorilla trekking permit in the Democratic Republic of Congo is considerably less but the situation on that side is so volatile we are not running gorilla trekking tours there currently.

Uganda gorilla trekking also affords us the opportunity to see the other photographic highlights of the region – Chimps and Shoebills so this is why we have chosen to go to Uganda.

Back to the gorilla trekking in Bwindi.

In the morning we will head over to the park gate at either Buhoma or Ruhiji (which is a bit further away but it all depends on what gorilla permits we are issued with) to be allocated our gorilla family for the day and to start the gorilla trek.

We are often asked how long the average gorilla trek takes and the answer is never simple. It depends on the gorilla family we are allocated on the day and where they spent the night before. the difficulty of the gorilla tracking is also dependent on the above but the group only moves as fast as the slowest member. There is no rush. The one hour with the mountain gorillas for the encounter starts when we find them.

We always suggest employing the services of a local porter to help with camera gear but more importantly this is an important source of income for the local communities.

We have conducted a detailed interview with Nelis with plenty of advice on what exactly to expect on a gorilla trekking safari and we suggest reading that for all the questions you might have. Here is a link.

What we will say here is that when you first encounter mountain gorillas in the wild it can be a most profound experience. There are no fences, no sense separation of from being in a vehicle. It is you and these gentle giants co-existing for a brief while where the mountain gorillas live. It is so profound that we always do two gorilla trekking excursions on each of our gorilla tours so that when you do the second the adrenaline has subsided a little and you can focus on your settings.

Of course, Nelis will be right by your side suggesting shots to take and settings to use throughout the gorilla trek. Nelis has spent so much time with mountain gorillas that his instinct and understanding of their behaviour will be invaluable in getting the best shots.

After the gorilla trekking on both days, you will return to Mahogany Springs lodge to review your images and start with some editing. After the first gorilla trek, this will be an opportunity for Nelis to point out ways in which you could improve your shots for the next day of gorilla trekking.

The last morning of our gorilla trekking adventure sees us heading back to the airport for the short flight back to Entebbe. there are of course other destinations that Uganda offers such as Murchison Falls National Park (a birding hotspot of note) in the north of the country which is well worth a visit. Should you wish to tack this onto the trip please let your safari planner know.

We will get back to Entebbe International Airport in time for most connecting flights but should you need to overnight we can also arrange this for you as well as all required airport transfers.

In addition to that East Africa is a hub of activity at this time of year with the Wildebeest Migration in full flow in Kenya’s Masai Mara. This set of dates is in fact designed to be an add-on to our own Migration Safari and you can see details of that here.

30 August – 7 September 2025

22 September – 30 September 2025

Price $11,950 per person sharing

If you are traveling alone and require your own room there is a supplement of $2,450

  • Entebbe Airport Meet and Greet
  • 2 nights Hotel No.5/Protea Hotel
  • 2 Excursions to Mabamba Swamps (Shoebills)
  • Flights from Entebbe to Kasese (+10kgs extra luggage)
  • 3 nights at Primate Lodge /Chimpundu Lodge – Kibale
  • Habituation Chimpanzee Trek (up to 4 hours)
  • Flight from Kasese to Kihihi
  • 3 nights at Buhoma Lodge/Mahogany Springs (Bwindi)
  • Two Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permits
  • Flight from Kihihi to Entebbe
  • All meals at Karibu, Primate Lodge and Buhoma
  • Soft drinks and water throughout
  • Image review sessions throughout the photo safari
  • Guided by Nelis Wolmarans
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Laundry and items of a personal nature
  • Optional Gratuities (suggested $10 – $20 per guest per day)
  • Alcoholic beverages

Suggested Add on

Why not make this the ultimate safari holiday and join the Great Migration Photo Safari before your trek?

the great migration photo safari pangolin by janine krayer

Explore Kenya’s Masai Mara during the world-renowned great migration with The Pangolin Photo Hosts! Not only will you get the chance to photograph iconic scenes but you’ll also take in the vast wilderness of rolling plains during a hot air balloon ride.  Sounds like the perfect start to your safari in Africa, doesn’t it? Learn more about this expedition here!

If you are looking for extensive advice on what to expect gorilla trek to Uganda then please take a moment to read this article. We did an extensive interview with Nelis about his experiences over nearly 100 gorilla treks. He talks about the trek, the encounter, what gear you should consider taking and some ideas on how to capture the essence of these magnificent creatures. You can find the article here.

Our Reviews

Woodson64
Woodson64
2024-04-07
Beyond awesome!! I just returned home from a fabulous 6 nights at the Pangolin Chobe Hotel in Kasane, Botswana. Everything was as expected. The room was comfortable with reliable internet and air conditioning. Lots of work space to edit photos, multiple international plugs (no need to bring a converter) and a comfortable bed. The food was outstanding at every meal and the staff was excellent. Many of the trips were on the river and the photo opportunities were endless. The boats are equipped with gimbals which helped with managing long lenses. Our guide was always looking to put us in the best positions to get great images. All of the guides there are outstanding and if you are into wildlife photography, booking a trip with Pangolin is a no brainer. I am eagerly looking to return next year and will bring along some of my photographer friends.
Chris B
Chris B
2024-02-17
Out of this world. Much much more than one could ever have expected This was the most amazing 5 days photography of my life. I was pretty reasonable before the trip but Janine's tuition / moving wokrshop ! turned something brilliant into something amazing. In addition my wife had previously rarely picked up a camera but having borrowed one of theirs came away with a thouroghly respectable 'portfolio' of wildlife shots, some of which I failed to capture. Am hoping to return one day. Oh and in addition the accommodation and full board etc was just perfect for the style of trip we were seeking. Only downside was that British Airways had my hold luggage for the whole of our 12 day visit to Africa however that did not spoil how good Pangolin are. Oh and we met a great couple from Ohio and are still in touch with them
beegal
beegal
2024-02-15
An incredible experience top to bottom I can't say enough about Pangolin. We stayed for two weeks, complete with gourmet meals (including vegan options for my husband) in portions that were too large, open bar, pool, free laundry services, comfortable beds, amazing staff, and safaris that were exciting yet exhausting. They arranged a day trip to Victoria Falls for us. And we were only rained out of one boat safari in the entire two weeks (in rainy season!) We learned from the photo hosts and guides. You get your money's worth and more here.
Jamie C
Jamie C
2023-11-29
Pangolin Photo safaris - a fantastic place to stay and to enjoy the Chobe We had a fantastic time at the wonderful Pangolin, everything was terrific. The staff were wonderful, both in the hotel and the Bush and all clearly well trained and very welcoming and helpful led by Dan. Charl was just what was needed on tour and with the photographing, we feel we all learned a lot as well as having fun. The food was delicious and the Chef great fun as well with his theatrical intros! I enjoyed the pool’s pond like qualities, which felt just right for the bush! Highly recommend this for photographic enthusiasts as well as everyone who enjoys the excitement of the Chobe wild life.
lumenstein94002
lumenstein94002
2023-11-25
No place is perfect, until you go here When I had an issue with a safari in the Okavango Delta, the company I had booked through pivoted and made arrangements for me to stay here for two nights. I have but one complaint, it was ONLY two nights. There cannot be anything said about this place that is not incredible. First, the staff is friendly from the pick up, to the in house staff to the team that works to make sure that your time here is as if you are family that you have known a lifetime. Because I was not originally planning on being here, I went in blind. Well, I can tell you that if you are thinking for a second of going here you have already thought too long. Just book it! I have already spent time looking at my next trip and it will be 100% with Pangolin. The boats are amazing, the team made you look better, spent time teaching me editing tips, and just cannot say enough about this company, the people and oh, the food!! The food each night was amazing.
MPA
MPA
2023-11-14
Fantastic all the way around 10/10 Wow these folks do it right! We just returned from leading our clients through Pangolin for our photography tour on the Chobe. I can't say enough about them. Everything from the staff and our guide (Richard) to Dan at the front desk and Guts with operations as well as the entire team are fantastic. We are for sure going to be working with them again in the future and look forward to it!
Sheree R
Sheree R
2023-11-01
How wrong was I, Totally! As it turned out. This was a holiday that my husband wanted to do. I was very sceptical about doing it. After all how much were you going to see from a boat anyway. I was afraid of using my camera, so thought this may help. It was awesome, we had 3 days on the Houseboat and 3 days in their Lodge. Whilst in the boat we got to see 2 Lions bring down an Impala, only meters away from our boat. Jarco & Ray, our guides, were awesome. The people we met were lovely and we got some great photos. This is a holiday that we have and will continue to recommend. It was totally worth it.
Cuthahotha
Cuthahotha
2023-10-24
Photography instruction to go from zero to hero in a few short days! With plenty of tips for the more experienced of us I'll make this short, there are no superlatives good enough to describe our time with Pangolin. We booked the Best of Chobe safari as my wife's first foray from North America. I had been watching all of the phenomenal YouTube content put out by Pangolin and knew they were the company to go with. They met and exceeded every expectation I had, and I had a lot. Our guides, Ray and Charlies, were excellent, knowing the game well and how best to position our boat or game drive vehicle for the best photos. Walter served as our photo host. Not only is he an excellent photographer, but he's an outstanding teacher. I do a lot of wildlife photography, and my wife is/was a complete novice at digital photography. By the end of the trip she was turning out outstanding images, and I learned more than a few tips. Well worth it for both of us. Typically, you'll do two game drives per day, either by custom-designed photography boats or game vehicles. We had four meals daily, and the evening meals were some of the best I have ever had. Also, while on the game drives, there are snacks, water, coffee, or sodas. You won't go hungry! While we both had gear (Nikon for my wife. I carry Canon R3 and Canon R5 ) they do have a loan department from which they will provide (free of charge) Canon 80Ds and 150-600mm lenses. The photo hosts are well-versed in the major camera manufacturers and models. Again, I can't begin to praise Pangolin, Toby, and Guts for the incredible customer service and photo safari.

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