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How to photograph the mountain gorillas

The visibility of the gorillas will be particularly important if you like photographing wildlife. You’ll probably be desperate to get great photos of this once in a lifetime experience to show family and friends back home.

Diary of a Muzungu's Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Take a deep breath, enjoy the Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking

In Uganda, it can be difficult to capture good photos under the dark canopy of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, as the name suggests! If you are very lucky, you may encounter your gorilla family in a clearing.

In Rwanda, the vegetation tends to be more bamboo and short grass, and therefore can make for better photography, although the skies may still be grey overhead.

You will be on the move, so it’s best to get as organised as possible before you start your gorilla trek. If you hire a porter, which is highly recommended, then you can take a fair bit of kit with you.

Here are a few tips for photographing the gorillas:

  • If you’re taking photos using a standard point-and-shoot camera, then make sure your camera is fully charged.
  • Always take extra memory cards.
  • Remember that flash photography is not allowed when you are with the gorillas. Make sure you have your camera manual with you so you know how to disable the automatic flash and automatic focus light functions.
  • Take fast film (400-1600 ASA) if you have a film camera.
  • Take a zoom lens, wide angle lens and an in-between / fixed focal length lens.
  • It may be tricky to change lenses while the gorillas are moving around so having more than one camera body is ideal.
  • Personal DVD recorders are allowed. It’s fairly easy to shoot videos of the mountain gorillas, as you will be so close to them and they are generally slow movers.
  • Professional filmmakers require permission and need to purchase filming permits in advance from UWA (Uganda) or RDB (Rwanda).
  • Photographs of gorillas in the low light of the forest can appear underexposed. More experienced photographers than me recommend shooting at ISO 1250 or higher in the forest.
  • Keep your camera and/or phone in a waterproof bag (such as a large Ziploc bag). Cue: you’re in the rainforest.

For gorilla trekking stories and Uganda and Rwanda travel advice, click on the hyperlinks in the
 Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking. Still got a question? Contact the Muzungu.