Photographing Mountain Gorillas; 2023 Tips and Best Images
Find the technical tips for mountain gorilla photography and images of gorillas for inspiration. Photographing Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat is one of the most thrilling, extraordinary, and emotionally-rewarding experiences.
The opportunity to catch a glimpse into the remarkable lives of these outstandingly huge Great Apes is an experience that most travelers always live to remember, especially after taking numerous photos of them going about their daily routines.
For many travelers, photographing mountain gorillas in their natural habitats (Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo).
Having images of gorillas especially these adorable Giant Apes while they go about their daily routines is every wildlife photographer’s dream come true.
Book this Gorilla Trekking Safari: 3 Days Gorilla Trekking Safari to Bwindi
Trekking to find Mountain Gorillas
Before you get the chance of photographing mountain gorillas, travelers have to first go on a trek through the dense rainforests, on the slopes of mountains, sometimes towering to 4000 meters above sea level.
It is not a simple walk in the Park but rather a strenuous trek lasting between two and five hours, sometimes even more. On finalizing the briefing at the Park Headquarters, travelers are allocated to gorilla families that match their age, physical fitness levels, and personal interests.
However, it is not always a guarantee that you will get exactly what you hope for because these creatures are wild animals that are always on the move and not stationed in one position. For that reason, it is always advised to work on your physical fitness prior to traveling to Uganda, Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo for your gorilla safari.
Also, the length of trekking will be determined by the movement of the mountain gorillas, the nature of the terrain, weather conditions (whether the forest floor is dry or wet), and most importantly the pace of the slowest person in your group.
While photographing mountain gorillas might be your ultimate goal, wait for the outstanding surprises along the way like beautiful landscapes, bids, lots of irresistible plants, and animals.
When you approach the mountain gorillas, your backpacks and walking sticks are collected (about 320 feet from the mountain gorillas) and left behind with the porters.
Have some time to compose yourself and take a breather to have the best of your one hour. Before getting closer to the mountain gorillas, make sure that your camera is well set, with enough memory space and extra batteries.
Important tips for Photographing Mountain Gorillas
You will be at least 8 meters away from the mountain gorillas and for this reason, we recommended camera lenses between 70 and 200mm, but for shots in wider places, the best lenses should be between 24 and 70mm.
For travelers who might be interested in taking detailed shots during their trips, 300-400mm is perfect for a lens.
Only non-flash cameras are allowed when photographing mountain gorillas and before you even approach the mountain gorillas, first switch off your flash this is done to avoid startling the mountain gorillas, hence saving yourself from being charged at.
Try as much as possible not to carry monopods and tripods for your mountain gorilla photography because these Giant Apes might mistake you for poachers that always terrorize them hence you wouldn’t want to be charged.
It is also for this reason that bags and walking sticks are left t least 100 meters before approaching the mountain gorillas.
Make sure that you have enough memory space (extra cards) and spare charged batteries not to ruin your long-awaited mountain gorilla photography trip.
Always have a waterproof camera and lens cover because you never can tell when a surprise downpour finds you in the middle of the mountain gorilla photography trip.
Most travelers prefer photographing in “Aperture Priority Mode” because dark/light conditions keep adjusting as mountain gorillas are always on the move from shade to light places hence would want to capture something clear.
For experienced photographers, shooting in RAW can be done as you are guaranteed of achieving a greater scope with your photos.
One thing you need to always remember is that these Giant Apes always move to the darker sides of the forest canopies hence we recommend high ISO settings that will bring out the perfect high shutter speed.
Recommended Shutter Speed while Photographing Mountain Gorillas
You will want to capture perfect shops of young mountain gorillas jumping on tree branches and moving fast in the dense vegetation hence shutter speed of at least 1/1000th second will be perfect to get those rare shots.
See the Best wildlife photography camera by TechRadar.
What to wear/or carry for your Mountain Gorilla Photography Trip
Brace yourself in strong hiking boots, a long-sleeved shirt, and safari pants for protection against stinging nettles and scratching vegetation. Make sure that whatever you put on is of neutral color.
Also, carry a lightweight and breathable rain jacket, gardening gloves, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head against the sunshine, sunglasses, a thick sweater to keep you warm during the early morning chills, a walking stick (always provided at the Park Headquarters), toiletries (such as hand gel, hand and body lotion, wet wipes, hand towel, hand sanitizer, and deodorant among others).
Best time for Photographing the Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorilla photography is undertaken all year round but travelers that hope to capture more beautiful backdrops such as lusher vegetation and clearer skies always do it in the wet season-March to May, October to early December.
Vegetation becomes greener and the sky is cleared of dust by the rains hence creating the best photos you can ever ask for. However, be prepared for more challenging treks as the heavy rains make forest trails muddy and slippery hence challenging.
Most travelers therefore would rather be undertaking mountain gorilla photography in the dry season-June to September and mid-December to February when forest trails are drier and less slippery. However, this doesn’t guarantee total absence of rainfall.
Plan your Gorilla Photography Safari to Uganda
Ideal Trips for Photographing Mountain Gorillas
3 Days Gorilla Habituation Experience
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5 Days Uganda Primates Tour
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7 Days Uganda Wildlife and Primates Safari
This tour takes you to view the big five of African continent on top of chimp & gorilla trekking and other adventurous activities such as Game drives, boat cruise, nature walk that redefine the meaning of perfection… View Tour