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5 Great Reasons to Gorilla Trek (Soon!)

July 10, 2017  By: Gretchen

Gorilla trekking is one of our all-time favorite adventures in Africa. Gorillas are powerful, intelligent and entertaining. The landscape of their habitat is dramatic, with majestic mountains and dense, green forests. The experience is like no other in the animal kingdom.

1. New Properties

A host of new properties are opening or soon-to-open in Rwanda and Uganda, giving trekkers greater options, including some truly innovative and luxurious lodges. Some of our picks are…

  • Bisate Lodge – this totally unique new luxury lodge was built on 27 hectares of steep subprime agricultural land with no existing dwellings. Its construction injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy and created jobs for the local community. Guests enjoy views of the Virunga Massif, as well as exclusivity (only 6 rooms!), incredible service and delectable meals.
  • One & Only Gorilla’s Nest – This property is scheduled to open later in the year and promises to live up to the One & Only standards across the globe. Expect to have your needs met before you realize them, all the creature comforts you expect in a luxury property, a beautiful setting and easy access to Virunga National Park HQ.
  • One & Only Nyungwe House – This was a favorite of AAC staff that was recently acquired by One & Only. Set in the midst of a gorgeous tea plantation along the edge of the Nyungwe Forest (home to 13 different primate species!), this luxury lodge is a place you won’t want to leave. Large, luxuriously appointed private rooms make for happy travelers, as does the spa and fine dining. Re-opening in October.

2. Kwita Izina

Rwanda celebrates the naming of baby mountain gorillas each year in their Kwita Izina ceremony, which also serves to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the species and their habitat. This September will mark the 13th year for Kwita Izina, and if you want to get in on the festivities, there are still a few permits and rooms remaining. In the 12 years since the event was established, 216 mountain gorilla babies have been named in a celebration of both nature and the communities who protect the iconic apes.

Fun fact – Kent named one of Rwanda’s baby mountain gorillas a few years ago!

3. New Types of Treks

Along with new lodges, Rwanda has brought a truly exclusive trekking experience to the table. Travelers wishing to have a gorilla group to themselves can now do so. For $15,000, up to 8 travelers can have their own, private trekking experience and one hour with the gorillas with personalized guiding.

Uganda has upped the ante as well. In addition to regular treks throughout Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Uganda Wildlife Authority is offering a new, limited time ‘gorilla habituation experience’ to travelers. The cost for these special permits are $1,500 per person, per day, and allows trekkers to spend up to four hours with the gorillas! Habituation of a gorilla family only takes a certain amount of time; we don’t know how long this experience will be available. Primate enthusiasts should take advantage!!

NOTE: Standard gorilla treks where guests spend no more than one hour with habituated gorillas currently cost $1,500 per person per day in Rwanda and $600 per person per day in Uganda. Uganda has stated that it will honor $600 permits through 2019. After 2019, the price increases to $700.

4. Conservation

Tourism has been directly responsible for the fragile mountain gorilla population not only stabilizing, but increasing. Permit fees go towards conservation, while tourism jobs incentivize the local population to protect the gorilla population. Every traveler can visit knowing that their presence is making a difference in conserving one of the world’s natural treasures.

5. More Than Gorillas

Both Rwanda and Uganda offer more than just gorillas! Visitors to Rwanda can visit its sparkling capital Kigali, where they will find a world-class museum dedicated to its recent history. Additionally, there are other beautiful parks in the country including Nyungwe Forest, where visitors can trek other primates such as chimpanzees and golden monkeys, and Akagera National Park, where rhinos have been recently reintroduced after a 10-year absence.

Uganda offers a huge array of safari opportunities, from Kidepo National Park in its remote northern reaches, to Bwindi in the south. In between, travelers are awed by the incredible force of Murchison Falls, as well as its incredible bird life and land animals found within the park. Kabale Forest National Park is another popular stop, both for the surrounding area’s beauty as well as the excellent chimpanzee trekking. A special full-day chimpanzee habituation experience is available here as well. Further south, Queen Elizabeth National Park is known not just for its wildlife-rich boat trips along the stunning Kazinga Channel, but also for its tree-climbing lions.

Most travelers just see the tip of the iceberg in these two outstanding safari destinations – we give you the chance to dig deeper.

Are you ready to lace up your hiking boots?