Rwanda or Uganda for your gorilla safari?

“Spending time with these gorillas changed my life.” – Ellen Degeneres.

 

Global tourism has been mesmerised by this spell-bounding experience and we are already taking 2022 bookings! Availability is going fast! No wildlife adventure can compare with coming face-to-face with a wild gorilla – truly the ultimate wildlife experience. 

There are less than 1000 mountain gorillas left in the wild – with infants born only every 4 years. Half of these gorilla families are found deep in the forests of Rwanda and Uganda. Getting up close to these majestic giants can be physically challenging, expensive and daunting… but completely worth it! This awe-inspiring experience should be bumped to the top of your travel bucket list before it’s too late. 

So that leaves the question, where do you go to see these great silverback gorillas – Rwanda or Uganda?

Well, wherever you go, you will need to trek – up slippery paths, down narrow pathways, through muddy hills and thick vegetation. But as soon as you catch a glimpse of the first infant or family of gorillas, any exacerbation will fall void and you will feel nothing but joy as you see them groom each other and amble around. 

Safari trips to Rwanda and Uganda are becoming increasingly popular, especially among U.S. travellers, but the available numbers remain limited and are planned and booked almost 18 months in advance. Here are our top reasons to visit both Rwanda and Uganda for your ultimate gorilla safari:

Rwanda:

The vegetation is less dense in the Rwandan forests making sightings easier. 

Travel distances between places are short making road travel more pleasant and convenient. 

You have panoramic views of the volcanoes which are a sight to behold. 

The treks are shorter, despite the higher altitudes. 

You can visit the Dian Fossey Foundation. 

Travellers looking for the ultimate luxury accommodation nestled in the heart of the forest can look to book at Bisate Lodge or Singita Kwitonda. 

Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit with magnificent views and lush forests. 

Nyungwe Forest has over 100kms of trails and home to 13 different primates. 

Golden Monkey trekking adds an additional experience to your visit. 

Gorilla trekking is a sustainable operation that benefits local communities in Rwanda. 

Rwanda has better infrastructure. 

The permits required for trekking and luxury accommodation contribute to the sustainability of wildlife operations and communities. 

A mother and child, Titus Group, Bisate Lodge, Wilderness Safari, Rwanda

Freshly baked goods and Rwandan coffee make breakfast heartwarming, Bisate Lodge, Wilderness Safari, Rwanda
Traditional Dancers stir the mood, Bisate Lodge, Wilderness Safari, Rwanda

Mountain gorillas, Virunga Mountains, Rwanda

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Uganda

Uganda is significantly more affordable than Rwanda – both with permits and accommodation.

There is a wider variety of accommodation from entry-level to luxury lodges.  

Trekking in Uganda can be challenging due to the frequent downpours, steep slopes and thick vegetation, but there are amazing chimp-trekking programs that make this adventure worthwhile. 

Experience interactions with the indigenous Batwa people in the Bwindi region. 

Gorilla trekking is a sustainable operation in Uganda as the public/private partnerships are designed to save endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda and benefit communities. 

Gorilla tracking permits bring in more than $1 million dollars a year. 

Expeditions have also contributed more than $1.18 million to transform Bwindi Community Hospital, reducing infant mortality by 50%.

Both Rwanda and Uganda offer great opportunities for gorilla trekking, and the choice often lies at the availability of permits – especially if you’re booking last minute. 

Both countries allow only 8 guests to visit a gorilla family per day and require guests to know their fitness level before deciding. If you’re looking for ultimate luxury accommodation, Rwanda would be the ideal destination. However, if you’re looking to experience the wonders of the mighty Silverback gorillas and other outdoor adventures on a smaller budget, Uganda is preferable as it has over half of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas. 

Due to the huge demand for a safari & gorilla combo prices have increased and we have thus carefully crafted an incredible 7-night tour at a combination of our selected Sanctuary Retreats giving you a MASSIVE 33% saving! Read more here. 

Within Six Feet of Rhinos

Our very own Terri Abadi has just had yet another unforgettable, heart-stopping encounter at our precious Londolozi. This time she was up close to five magnificent rhinos… on foot!

For a sneak peek of this incredible experience watch the video below or read on for more.  

 

“Less than two weeks ago I was within six feet of five rhinos. But I wasn’t in a Land Rover, nor was I safely tucked away in a viewing hide. 

No, I was on foot, crouched motionless next to a Knobthorn acacia tree with my ranger, fervently hoping the wind didn’t swing, which would let the enormous pachyderms catch our scent. 

There was a cow with a horn of over a metre long, feeding peacefully next to her 4-month old calf. She could potentially be aggressive if startled. Right next to them were two sub-adult bulls, only a few years old and still not completely independent. Lastly came a young cow, also probably an offspring of the huge female.

Five of one of Africa’s most threatened species were at eye-level with us, calmly grazing, totally oblivious to our presence (their eyesight is particularly poor), and I have never felt more alive!

Encounters like these can literally be life-changing. Coming face to face with the wildest of Africa’s creatures whilst simultaneously accessing your own vulnerability is a powerful cocktail of sensory stimulation and emotion, which seldom leaves the viewer unmoved. 

There is an intangibility to the true African experience which only the initiated can truly claim to understand; to profess a connection with this most varied of continents is only possible after seeing with your own eyes, after having felt the bare African earth beneath your own feet and after having heard the lion’s roar in the night air with your own ears.

I know that each time I return to the continent that is my spiritual home I will be changed. I will experience things I could hardly have imagined and I will feel things that some search for their whole lives. Awe. Deep Humility. Belonging.

The Africa of old storybooks is the Africa that is still out there; the Africa I found myself immersed in when five rhinos moved past almost within touching distance, with nothing between us but a few strands of grass, and no noise in the evening air but the sound of their heavy breaths and the pounding of my heart in my own ears. 

This is the Africa of dreams. The Africa of romance and of adventure. The Africa that silently waits in the red sunset of each day as she calls with her tribal drumbeats, and the Africa we want to share with you…”

by Terri Abadi

 

4 Fun Activities for Kids on Safari

Are you worried about taking your kids on safari? Or wondering what they might get up to in the heart of the African bushveld?

Stop right there… and worry no longer! African safari lodges love having children and they do all sorts of fun activities to make sure your little treasures have the time of their lives. They will also make sure that your children not only learn about wildlife, nature and conservation and but learn to love them too.

Here are 4 fun activities that will keep your kids busy on safari:

Junior Rangers

Many of the South African lodges such as Londolozi and Tswalu devise junior ranger activities for the kids. Special “kiddie” safari gear is provided as well as educational books and quizzes. Kids are taught lots of interesting things about the bushveld, are given quizzes and at the end of the day be appointed official junior rangers!

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Treasure Hunts

Let your kids explore and really get to know their surroundings with a special African treasure hunt. Get them to look for and retrieve iconic African mementos such as feathers, porcupine quills, seedpods, bones and plants. Why not make it a competition and the first one to get everything on your list gets a special prize!

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Mini chefs

Luxury lodge chefs will often welcome children to spend time in the kitchen. Kids can play with dough and learn how to bake certain goodies all under the watchful and talented eye of the chef on duty.

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Fishing

For centuries fishing has been a fun pastime for children and today, in Africa…nothing has changed. If there is a river or a dam the lodge will have some basic fishing gear and a ranger can accompany the kids to the closest safe and kid friendly dam. See who comes back with the biggest fish!

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Iconic Africa looks forward to planning you and your family, the African Adventure of a lifetime! For 3 of our top rated Family Lodges click here.

 

 

 

 

Is James Hendry Married?

As we reflect on 2017 and share what and who we are grateful for – the good and the bad times, the funny moments, the people who have entered our lives and those who have left, it is our solemn duty to acknowledge and appreciate this week’s nomination by ladies all over the world and this month’s winner of Man Crush Monday!

Introducing… JAMES HENDRY – wildlife extraordinaire, ranger above all rangers, jack of all trades, and possibly master of all.

James Hendry has spent much of his time observing the human condition and the natural environment. However, many women would prefer to spend their time observing him – and his physical condition in his natural environment, the great outdoors and more specifically the African bushveld. What once began as a great incentive to visit luxury safari lodges has now culminated in to Google Searches and Facebook comments.

But Hendry is more than just a pretty face with what many refer to as ‘dry sarcastic wit’. While (and here we justifiably generalise) all women possibly (and should have) reacted to Hendry’s topless foot race against Brent Leo Smith with unintelligible shrieks, justice will descend upon us if we omit his intellectual charm, gentle ways and his unapologetic love for animals. He has both an Honours degree in science and Master’s degree in Human Development!

Dipping his toe in many waterholes, Hendry is a published author, musician, singer, guitar teacher, actor, Safari Live filmmaker/guide and music composer. Oh, and ‘the best safari guide’ (mostly according to women guests) and makes for good conversation too. Light-hearted and humourous, Hendry will either serenade you or charm you with some light banter. Like his comic fiction novel, he is a supernova. A zenith of intellect, charm, wit, and not forgetting, easy on the eyes. Hendry will cast a spell on all women’s hearts.

For eight years after Hendry moved to the wilderness, women were unsteady and likely to collapse as he worked as a safari guide, head ranger, guide trainer, land manager and lodge manager. And so we ask the question, “Is James Hendry married?” On behalf of all the single ladies who enjoy the African bush accompanied by the tranquillity, sounds, sunsets and sunrises as much as he does.

We thought we should let you know that our beloved James Hendry is in fact NOT married. For more on this stud of a man click here. 

#MCM #ManCrushMonday #JamesHendry #Safari #SafariLove #Wildlife #WildlifeLove #GreatOutdoors #Nature #NatureLover #AllRounder #SafariLive