Uganda was nicknamed the “pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill in 1902 because it is home to half of world’s mountain gorillas, 50% of birds in Africa, rich plant life, insects, reptiles, beasts, and the natural beautiful lakes, rivers and snow capped Rwenzori mountains. Add in the diverse culture of more than 55 indigenous tribes each with amazing heritage, traditions, arts, music, food and much more.
As a result of this biological and cultural diversity, Uganda today is an outstanding travel destination where visitors can participate in many activities ranging from traditional cultural dance performances, village walks to wildlife safari, gorilla tracking, primate viewing, birding, nature walks, hiking, mountain climbing and adrenaline white water fating.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park are the top destinations for gorilla tracking safaris and gorillas have always been the greatest attraction for travelers to Uganda. We present to you ideas you need to look for if you’re a luxury travel visiting Uganda for gorilla trekking safari.
Stay in Luxury accommodation
Most luxury/ high end lodges are found in Bwindi Forest’s tourism sectors of Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo while few are in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Visitors need to ask from their tour operators the kind of service and amenities they want. It is advisable to book your room in advance especially during high season December to February and June to September.
Lodges with hospitable staff will always win hearts of visitors by serving meals in rooms, putting hot water pots to warm beds during cold nights and attending to personal needs.
Lodges that are located close to gorilla centers are most preferred for those who want to wake up at their own pace. However those that are 15km from the gorilla center like chameleon hill, jungle lodge are found on lake shores and offer outdoor activities like canoeing and boat rides. Most luxury rooms will at least single, double or triple beds, en suit bathrooms, private veranda, mosquito nets, dressing tables, drinking water. Apart from the bar lounge, restaurant, dining area, fireplace, some lodges offer extra facilities and services. For instance Lodges like sanctuary gorilla forest camp in Buhoma offer massage and mini spa treatment while clouds mountain gorilla safari lodge in Nkuringo has unique design and art work plus the best views of Bwindi and Virunga volcanoes.
Transfers from Entebbe Airport to Bwindi or Mgahinga take 9-10 hours drive while those from Kigali airport to volcanoes national park in northern Rwanda take 1-2 hours drive.
In Uganda, you need the right transfer taking into consideration that from the main tarmac highways, the roads to the lodges and tracking centers are dirt and bumpy. A comfortable 4*4 vehicle with air conditioning is a must have. On board guests can be provided with drinking water, hot meals and the en route attractions such as equator monument, Igongo cultural museum, Bakiga museum will ensure satisfaction and less stress despite the journey being long.
Explore the culture of local communities around the gorilla parks
Batwa pygmies and Bakiga
Most travelers are attracted to Bwindi and Mgahinga or volcanoes national park because of the gorillas. But after the gorilla trek, one can discover the rich culture of Bantu tribes including the BaTwa pygmies and Bakiga communities of southwestern Uganda as well as Banyarwanda and Bafumbira in Rwanda. A village walk offers an opportunity to participate in cultural activities and enjoy traditional entertainment, banana beer brewing, craft making and food preparation.
Some of the interesting sites are the BaTwa trail in Mgahinga and the Iby’Iwacu cultural village around volcanoes national park. It will give you an idea in modern world that ancient traditions of both Uganda and Rwanda including that of the Batwa forest hunter gathers which date back 5000 years are still relevant.
Knowledgeable and helpful safari guides
Most tour operators use driver who also acts as a guide for visitors on a safari to Rwanda or Uganda. English language is the widely spoken. It is possible to hire a guide that can speak French, Spanish and German. The first thing to consider for a good guide is being registered/ licensed by tourism boards and secondary ensuring safety and security of tourists. The right safari guide will ensure a memorable and educative safari.