Steve McCurry Meets the Gorillas of East Africa’s Virunga Mountains

It’s often said that in the Virunga Mountains of East Africa — where Rwanda meets Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo — explorers sometimes travel in a peculiar kind of silence. The reason? They have just witnessed the majestic sight of wild primates in their natural habitat — a potentially life-changing experience.

Steve McCurry spent time with the last remaining mountain gorillas in the dense jungles of Kibale and the Bwindi National Park, having traveled to Uganda and more bucket-list destinations with Silversea. It was the first time that the legendary photographer had traded portraits of humans for portraits of wild gorillas, but the once-in-a-lifetime experience will be remembered among his greatest.

After a long hike into the African jungle — an otherworldly landscape that boasts an abundance of wildlife — McCurry came face-to-face with his subjects. He was fascinated by the 10 or 15 gorillas’ humanistic mannerisms, their relaxed dispositions and their playful natures. A spirited infant even brushed up against him, before scampering off to play. For such large animals, the gorillas were surprisingly agile: They darted up trees and swung between branches, becoming indistinguishable in the jungle’s lofty canopy. But McCurry’s compelling photographs depict recognizable expressions and intricate emotions.

The mist-filled jungle of the Virunga Mountains gave an ethereal feel to the experience for the photographer, and that magical ambiance shows through his photographs below. Moments like these are the reason we travel.

Uganda by Steve McCurry
Mountain gorillas are endangered, but conservation efforts are helping them grow in numbers./Steve McCurry
Uganda by Steve McCurry
McCurry’s wildlife photography shows how humanistic these gorillas are./Steve McCurry
Uganda by Steve McCurry
Mountain gorillas live on a mostly plant-based diet including lots of fruits and leaves./Steve McCurry

About Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry and Silversea Cruises

Steve McCurry — the greatest living photographer today — needs no introduction. His iconic “Afghan Girl” image has captured the hearts and minds of thousands. He is a born storyteller with the soul of an explorer. He has a unique ability to capture authentic beauty and truth in the world and express it with clarity and emotion. As a result, a McCurry image not only takes you on a journey, but it inspires you to travel the world.

McCurry has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the National Press Photographers Award and four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest. To learn more about the partnership between Steve McCurry and Silversea visit

Is Africa on your bucket list? Start browsing different Silversea cruises to Africa and the Indian Ocean. Then, read about a documentary about McCurry and look at more stunning images from his adventure in West Africa.