I have an ever-growing travel bucket list that coud rival one of those Lonely Planet/Rough Guide books listing 1000 things to do before you die. Mine’s not up to 1000 yet, but it’s pretty close. Working at Getaway has meant that I’ve learned about so many epic trips to do in Africa – some of which I didn’t even have an inkling of before meeting Getaway’s well-travelled journos.
Something that’s been right up in my top 10 list of things to do before I die, is seeing mountain gorillas in the wild in Rwanda or Uganda.
A nice perk of working at a travel magazine, is that you do actually get to tick things off your bucket list. Like seeing the gorillas.
Here’s what you need to know:
The trip is from 18 to 22 August 2012 and costs R23 604 a person sharing. It’s going to be a small group of people on the trip (max 12) so don’t have visions of a bus crammed with 50 tourists, Contiki-style.
The price includes includes return flights from Joburg to Kigali in Rwanda, transfers, accommodation, tours, a gorilla permit ($500) and park entrance fees. Even though it may seem like a lot for a five-day trip, this is actually one of the most affordable gorilla packages I’ve come across – especially considering that the gorilla permit alone is US$500.
Before heading up to the park to see the gorillas, we’ll stay in Kigali, the country’s capital, and tour the city, visiting the genocide memorial site. Then we’ll drive to Lake Kivu, and stay on the northern shore of the lake, which according to the brochure, is ‘a tropical location with a sandy beach lined with swaying palms and colonial-era hotels that exude an atmosphere of tropical languor.’ Sounds like a great spot for G&Ts, if you ask me.
Then we’ll trek in the Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park) in the Virunga volcanoes, which is home to the mountain gorillas. On our way to the gorillas, there’s other wildlife to spot, including golden monkeys, buffalo, bush duiker, birds and a lot of butterflies, apparently (am partial to a bit of butterfly-spotting if I’m to be honest).
After spending an hour with the gorillas, we’ll visit the Karisoke Research Center, which was set up by Diana Fossey, and an ex-poacher’s village. As part of overall conservation efforts, former poachers renounced their old ways and have became conservation activists. Together with their families, they founded this eco-tourism village.
We head back to Lake Kivu and then fly home to Joburg from Kigali the next day.
If gorillas are on your bucket list too, but you can’t make the trip, then be sure to follow my blog and my tweets (@SarahDuff) from Rwanda!