The perfect way to end a Safari to East Africa
A few days gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcano national park is the perfect high note to end your safari trip to East Africa. Add to that 2 nights indulging in luxury at Jack Hanna’s cottage followed by 2 nights to wind down and reflect on a fantastic experience in sheer opulence at the Nyungwe Forest Lodge in Nyungwe National Park and you have perfection. Both properties are owned by luxury lodge operator the Shamwari group and both surpass all possible expectations.
Gorilla trekking is an exhilarating experience that is both exciting and humbling at the same time and for most Globetrotters will be the highlight of an African trip. The animals are majestic creatures that mirror humans in so many ways, in fact we share over 98% of our DNA with them. There are 10 family groups that you can track in Volcanoes National park. The groups range in size from 8 to as many as 28 members give or take and most groups have babies or youth. Each group is led by a large male silver back and some groups have numerous silver backs although only one in charge. There’s a limit of 8 visitors who can see one family per day, which is why the permits are limited and must be reserved well in advance. Treks can be as short as a few hours and as long as 9 hours so being reasonably fit is a must and hiring a porter to carry your belongings is highly recommended.
After a day of gorilla tracking the staff at Jack Hanna’s cottage await you with refreshing damp towels and fresh juice, they then trade your muddy hiking shoes with slippers. You’re then ushered into a stunning bathroom with your choice of soaker tub complete with fresh rose petals and high end bubble bath or a steaming hot rain shower. Each cottage comes with a personal chef and 2 staff to cater to your every need. Later, your hiking shoes are returned to you clean as the day you bought them! Other activities available include hiking to Diane Fossey’s Karisoke Camp and Golden Monkey Tracking.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge is a luxury lodge situated in the south of Rwanda, designed to fit harmoniously within its beautiful natural surroundings, Nyungwe offers exceptional 5-star comfort and ensures an experience rich in local culture, fused with impeccable service and African warmth. The lodge is situated in the Gisakura working tea plantation, on the edge of the Nyungwe National Park, East Africa’s largest protected high altitude rainforest and the largest tract of mountain rain forest on the African continent. The park is home to 13 species of primates including chimpanzees. It is an ideal spot to wind down after a gorilla trekking and game viewing. The lodge has 24 rooms, all of which have fireplaces for cold nights, and private decks looking out on to the rainforest. There is an outdoor heated infinity swimming pool and a boma area for outdoor dining and drinks. Enjoy a relaxing massage, Jacuzzi or treatment in the spa. The main building houses a large, warm lounge decorated in local style and a dining area with a terrace. The chef comes out to go over the menu before each meal and the food is of course delicious. The bar area is comfortable and well stocked with games and numerous books on Africa.
At times it was a trip of high-emotions, with Rwanda’s trouble past, the not so certain future of the Gorilla’s, and the intensity of the environment while trekking for hours. Having travelled a lot, I hold certain not-yet-done experiences on a bit of a pedestal, and seeing wild Gorilla’s was something I’ve always wanted to do. Having now sat amongst them, there is no doubt about it – it was so worth it.