Mountain Gorillas

August 22 to 27, 2020
Cost: $10,100
Leader: Tom Murphy
Group Size: 7
Days: 6

Safari Overview

Trek the forests of the Virunga Mountains to encounter Rwanda’s “gentle giant,” the mountain gorilla. Their enormous size, extraordinary strength, and the deep, lush mountainous environment have contributed to their mystique. Only about 900 mountain gorillas remain in the wild today, giving you a special opportunity for this rare experience. These social apes and their large appetites may have you observing youngsters playing, the silverback eating by stripping leaves from huge branches, friendly grooming between pals, or tiny babies nursing from their mother. Bringing mountain gorillas to light, Dr. Dian Fossey dedicated her life to their future and was immortalized in the book-to-film adaptation “Gorillas in the Mist.” You will walk away with unforgettable memories and amazing photographs.

• Come face-to-face with individual mountain gorillas as they interact within their family group.
• Trek through lush forest along the slopes of inactive volcanoes in Africa’s oldest national park.
• Improve your photography skills with leader and professional photographer Tom Murphy.


Begin your journey early on our Bostwana and Zambia safari from August 5 to 24, 2020. Experience the best wildlife regions that southern Africa has on offer and capture unforgettable moments with your leader and professional photographer Tom Murphy.

Itinerary Updated: February 2019

Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Aug 22 Travel to Kigali, Rwanda from our Bostwana and Zambia safari or from home. Kigali Serena Hotel, Kigali
Aug 23 Drive to the Virunga Mountains and enjoy the luscious greenery as your traverse the beautiful mountainous landscapes. Mountain Gorilla View Lodge B, L, D
Aug 24 Gorilla trek. Mountain Gorilla View Lodge B, L, D
Aug 25 Gorilla trek and then return to Kigali. Kigali Serena Hotel, Kigali B, L, D
Aug 26 Kigali city tour and Genocide Memorial Centre visit before flying home. B, L
Aug 27 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Tom Murphy

Tom has offered custom photographic tours and seminars for nearly 30 years, specializing in engaging locations such as Yellowstone National Park, Antarctica, and Africa. He travels and photographs extensively throughout Yellowstone and has hiked thousands of miles and skied on hundreds of extended overnight trips in the backcountry. Much of his work in Yellowstone was highlighted in a popular PBS Nature series program, Christmas in Yellowstone, and several of his own books. His passion and talent is photographing wildlife in their environment to tell the story of life and survival. He is a popular teacher, known for his easy-going attitude, helpful demeanor, and one-on-one style of instruction.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Travel from our Botswana and Zambia safari or home to Kigali, Rwanda

Aug 22

Travel to Kigali, Rwanda from our Bostwana and Zambia safari or from home. At the Kigali airport, you’ll meet one of the primate safari guides who will transfer you to the hotel for an overnight stay.

Drive to the Virunga Mountains

Aug 23

Meet our local guide at the hotel and then set off on a 2.5-hr drive to the Virunga Mountains in a spacious Land Cruiser. Arrive at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, located at the base of Volcanoes National Park.

Gorilla trekking

Aug 24

After breakfast, drive to the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters where you’ll meet your two park guides before driving to a trailhead and trekking to your gorilla group. You may hire an agile porter to help you carry your photo equipment and water. The trek to your gorilla group can take one to three hours of hiking each way with your time limited to one hour with the group. Your park guides will go over safety rules and body language required when visiting gorilla groups, but you’ll soon realize that this is one of the most exhilarating and moving wildlife experiences you will ever have.

The trackers already know where each group is located. To reach the group, you may climb through several vegetation zones – farms, bamboo, luxuriant hagenia, and hypericum forest with twisted gnarled trees covered in soft emerald mosses, lichens, and epiphytes. Watch out for stinging nettles!

As you approach the group, the lead guide will grunt as he edges forward to announce your arrival so as not to startle the gorillas. The silverback is usually lazily lying in thick vegetation and watching while one or more females are often close by and unperturbed by your presence. We hope you’ll have the wonderful opportunity to watch the young gorillas play fighting, climbing trees, and wrestling, making the hour pass by very quickly.

After gorilla trekking, depending on the time of day, you may be taken sightseeing before returning to the lodge.

Gorilla trekking

Aug 25

Your grand gorilla finale will dawn today. You’ll drive to the park headquarters to meet your park guides and trek to your gorilla group. After you spend your hour immersed with the gorillas, watching their behavior, you will return to Kigali.

Explore Kigali and flights homeward

Aug 26

Take a city tour in Kigali and visit the Genocide Memorial Centre that explains Rwanda’s promise for the future: “Such atrocities will never happen again.” After your visit and depending on your flight schedule, either go back to the hotel for a dayroom (not included) or transfer to the Kigali Airport for your flight home.

Arrive home

Aug 27

Mountain Gorillas

Trek the forests of the Virunga Mountains to encounter Rwanda’s “gentle giant,” the mountain gorilla. 

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $10,100
Single Supplement Contact Us

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare, singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $1,500
Second July 15, 2019 $4,000
Final January 15, 2020 Remaining Balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Until the Final Payment due date, payments are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $1,650 per person ($1,500 per person is for the pre-purchased, non-refundable and non-transferable gorilla trekking permits); $150 per person of the cancellation fee can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.


  • All leaders, transport, and park and museum entry fees for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Gorilla trekking permits of $1,500 per person per trek (total $3,000); $1,500 permit deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Accommodations for the nights of August 22 through August 25.
  • Meals from breakfast on August 23 through lunch on August 26.
  • Airport transfers on August 22 and 26.
  • Bottled water in the vehicles and during treks.
  • Walking sticks.
  • English-speaking guides, park rangers, and trackers.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
  • Short Term AMREF Flying Doctor medical emergency evacuation insurance. This does not include hospital or treatment costs. For more information see

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,200–$1,850 between the US and Rwanda. If you are arriving from our Botswana and Zambia safari, we will book your one-way flight from Lusaka (LUN) to Kigali (KGL) on August 22 (approximately $361).
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • Divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights. These can be arranged for an extra cost.
  • Gratuities for guides and porters –tipping is, of course, discretionary, and we will give you detailed information with your Trip Materials.
  • Additional emergency medical and evacuation insurance – however it is required for the Botswana and Zambia safari. For more information see the Botswana and Zambia itinerary and
  • Trip cancellation insurance. For more information see
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.


It is the dry season with less daily rainfall, but showers are possible. The temperatures range around 70°F (21°C) during the day and 60°F (16°C) at night. The altitudinal range creates climatic variations, so expect rain and mist in the upland forests while the sun shines at the base of Volcano National Park.

Fitness Level

Gorilla tracking can be arduous, so be prepared and equipped accordingly. Expect a one to three hour hike each way to see gorillas in dry or muddy conditions over coarse terrain. Walking sticks are provided, and porters are available for hire. The high elevation may also affect hikers. The base of the park sits at 7,500ft (2,500m) above sea level and rises to 13,500ft (4,500m).


Airfare, except flights listed as included, is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive at Kigali Airport (KGL) in Kigali, Rwanda around midday on August 22. If you are arriving from our Botswana and Zambia safari, see the Flights section in its itinerary for departure information. Depart Kigali in the evening on August 26.

Flights we book for you: If you are joining from our Botswana and Zambia safari, one-way flight from Lusaka (LUN) to Kigali (KGL) on August 22. The cost for this booking will be added to your final trip balance.






  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in natureWe try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days, but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because you are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
  • Use of drones/UAVs on tours: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most Cheesemans’ Ecology expeditions due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on safari without contacting us first.