Face to Face with Mountain Gorillas: a Life-Changing Experience

It’s an odd thing to look at yourself looking back at you, but not in a mirror.

No, you are far removed from where you would normally find a mirror. Surrounding you is damp montane forest, the air is filled with strange bird cries, and the eyes that gaze back into yours are fringed all around by dense black fur. They are not human but somehow are. You know they are looking at you just as intently as you are looking at them, and behind those peaceful, sad eyes is… something.

Photograph courtesy Sonke Moolman-Pautz

This is gorilla trekking; this is the encounter people fly around the world for. The chance to come face to face – literally – with something that is so undeniably human, yet isn’t.
It is the type of experience that changes lives.

Photograph courtesy Sonke Moolman-Pautz

The few mountain gorillas left in the world are mostly confined to the Virunga Mountains, a range of volcanoes that run along the border between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a number of national parks between the three countries ensuring the continued protection of the great apes. Rwanda and Uganda are by far the more popular destinations, and the Volcanoes National Parks in the latter and the Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks in the former are usually the destinations of choice for those wishing to experience the magic first hand. A wide range of lodges dotted around the region ensures visitors have a lot of choice when it comes to selecting the right fit for them, and Iconic Africa are able to help you work your way through the options.

Dramatic landscapes are a hallmark of the gorilla trekking regions. Photograph courtesy Sonke Moolman-Pautz

Recent Gorilla-trekker and Iconic Africa guest Sonke Moolman-Pautz stayed at Singita Kwitondo lodge, and had this to say about the experience:

This trip exceeded all of our expectations and we had really high expectations to begin with! We had such magical encounters with the Gentle Giants of the Forest on both of our treks – so grateful that the Team at Iconic Africa suggested that we meet up with the Gorillas twice. It really is so worth it!

Singita Kwitondo is an absolute sanctuary of warmth and solitude. Exceptional in every way! But I think the most unexpected part of our adventure is the lasting effect that Rwanda has had on all of us. It honestly is the most incredible country with the most gentle and kind people that I have ever encountered. And to think what they have had to endure. It really has changed us, so much to learn! I honestly cannot wait to go back.

Iconic Africa arranged a completely flawless trip for a large group during a difficult and fluid time (Covid). So thoughtful with so many personal touches! We were treated like absolute VIPs from start to finish. Highly recommended!

A little family disagreement amongst one of the local troops. Photograph courtesy Sonke Moolman-Pautz

With some amazing specials on offer right now, there simply has not been a better time to see the gorillas. This is honestly one of those life-changing travel experiences that has to be lived first-hand to be understood.

Get in touch with Iconic Africa here to start planning your trip…

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