Gorilla safari activities

Gorilla safari activities


what COMPLEMENTS a gorilla safari

Few people are going to go all the way to the gorilla watching mountains and rainforests without spreading their wings just a little bit. In Uganda, for example, you can easily spend a couple of weeks exploring the country, with Lake Victoria and its islands a huge pull, traditional safaris to see elephants, lions, zebras and much more in other national parks, and various volunteering opportunities in both community and conservation. There are fewer opportunities within Rwanda, so many people combine a wildlife trip of both countries or, from Rwanda, you can take a quick flight into Tanzania, and explore the Serengeti. Rude not to, really.
Rwanda’s history
Rwanda is an extraordinary country, pulling itself out of countrywide grief following the genocide of over a million people in 1994, to a place where they treasure tourism. Although, generally, Rwandans do not like to talk about the tragedies, visiting memorial sites around the country, as well as the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, is a reality check for tourists.
Something for all the family
Although the minimum age for gorilla watching is fifteen, given that your children may want to vacation with their peers soon after that, this is one of the most spectacular ways to spend a family vacation before they do. You can also see four out of the Big Five on a traditional safari in Uganda, or combine a Rwanda trip with a jaunt into the Tanzania’s Serengeti.
Visit the Batwa people
There has been much controversy over the displacement of the Batwa, the indigenous people of Uganda’s Bwindi National Park. Indeed, their name means ‘Keepers of the Forest’ and yet their lifestyles are under threat. Some tourism operators connect with projects that support the Batwa and, with little government support, it is vital that tourism helps sustain them.

Tips for other activities


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL ASKS THE EXPERTS

Paul Callcutt at our leading supplier of gorilla trekking vacations, Natural World Safaris, gives good advice on other gorilla safari activities:
“Responsible tourism holds the key to improving the situation for the Batwa people of Uganda and responsible local lodges like Mt Gahinga Lodge (the only lodge we use in the area) actually has a trust designed to aid the Batwa people. It has already been used to purchase land for pastoral purposes allowing them a dignified lifestyle that, while still somewhat alien to their traditional lifestyle, is a huge step forward from when they were initially displaced by the Ugandan government and left to fend for themselves in an alien world with little or no support. In Bwindi National Park the people running Bwindi Community Hospital are encouraging the local people to be involved in a healthcare scheme of sorts, the cost of which is nominal in our world but people can sign up to a health insurance programme for just a few dollars each year. This is quite a groundbreaking idea and getting sceptical locals on board with the idea is half the challenge, a large part of the funding for this comes from visits from people who have a free afternoon following a morning’s gorilla trekking. I think this is an excellent way to spend an afternoon and a way in which guests can learn about the area on a deeper level”.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Joe McKenna] [Rwanda's history: Trocaire] [Something for all the family: Tim Williamson] [Visit the Batwa people: Jocelyn Saurini] [Paul Callcutt quote - Batwa people: Jocelyn Saurini]
Written by Catherine Mack
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