Experience

Rwanda & Uganda: Walk with the Apes of East Africa

It’s no secret that gorilla tracking is an experience with a place on everyone’s bucket list. So often though, we are asked which gives the better experience: Rwanda or Uganda? Whilst we could wax lyrical about both, we thought why not do one better – and actually do both? So here it is, a trip that will start you off on the bright streets of Kigali before taking you up into the Rwandan mountains and back down the other side into the sweeping Ugandan landscapes. Along the way, you’ll track endangered western gorillas in both Rwanda and Uganda, join local researchers on a lion study in the Queen Elizabeth National Park and, of course, spend some time with the cheeky chimps and elusive golden monkeys too. Nine nights but more wildlife than you can count, lace up your hiking boots, it’s time to walk with apes.

The Colors of Kigali

Touchdown in the Rwandan capital of Kigali and you’ll be whisked straight to your hotel for the night. A peaceful oasis in the heart of this bustling, cosmopolitan city, The Retreat is exactly that. Rest up in one of their stylish suites before joining a private guide the next morning to get to know this modern African city. Making the most of your short time in the capital, you’ll take a trip to the powerful and poignant Kigali Memorial Center where you’ll learn the stark truth about the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. Fortunately, Rwanda today is a far cry from the mid-90s and has emerged into a city with a bright cultural scene to uncover. In the afternoon, you’ll then leave Kigali behind as you begin the drive north into Rwanda’s Virunga range.

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Virunga and its Volcanoes

Check in at the hilltop Virunga Lodge where you’ll be greeted by a traditional Intore dance before sitting down with something cold out on the terrace and enjoying the view. In the morning, it’s an early start as you leave the lodge at daybreak to begin the incredible trek into the mountains in search of the gorillas. Nothing quite compares to the feeling when you break through the canopy to find a family there, so spend some time with them watching in total wonder as they go about their day-to-day. Return to the lodge and swap stories with fellow trekkers over the dinner table before heading out the next morning in search of the equally elusive and just as spectacular, golden monkey.

The Ugandan Perspective

Tomorrow, you’ll jump across the border into Uganda with a quick flight to Kihihi before driving onto Bwindi Lodge. Shrouded in the mists of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, arriving here you immediately know that something amazing awaits. So, start your stay right with a trip down to the Bwindi Bar in the village, set up to train locals in hospitality, and enjoy the stylish surrounds, the handcrafted drinks and casual tapas dining. Tomorrow, you’ll get the chance to make up your mind for yourself whether Rwanda or Uganda offers the best gorilla tracking, as you experience the Ugandan take. Journey through dense foliage and up steep climbs to find mountain gorillas in their natural habitat before returning to the lodge for a well-earned massage in their luxurious Humula Forest Spa.

Tree Climbing Lions…

In the morning, you’ll then travel north to the Kyambura Game Reserve on the border with Queen Elizabeth National Park. A part of the country where plunging gorges meet rolling savannahs, journey out in search of the lions that prowl the lands. No ordinary lions, however, be sure to scan the treeline with the lions of Ishasha often found climbing trees and lounging in their branches. You’ll then pay a visit to the Rwenzori Sculpture Gallery, showcasing the work of award-winning artists inspired by the Ugandan landscapes, before visiting a few of the local communities.

…and Branch Swinging Chimps

Tomorrow, you’ll complete your quota of apes with a day spent chimpanzee trekking through the Kyambura Gorge. Playful as always, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled to catch sight of our cheeky relations. On your final day, you’ll then set off on a boat safari down the Kazinga Channel whose shores act as the local hangout for the parks’ wildlife. Glide by as lions, elephants and more come to drink whilst Nile crocodiles swim on by. To cap off your trip, you’ll then head out on a game drive through Queen Elizabeth with an expert researcher where you’ll get the chance to lend a hand on a conservation project, monitoring the behaviour of the local prides.

Research done and dusted, it’s time to return home having ticked off some of Africa’s most immersive experiences.

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