Featured story brought to you in partnership with Unique Family Travels.
We all have a bucket list of places we want to explore. Whether we have been enticed by stunning pictures on social media or have simply had a lifelong desire, our feet itch to visit faraway lands and have exciting adventures. But, of course, life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of our dreams and before you know it, your bucket list has been replaced by a growing to-do list.
One of my personal wish-list experiences has always been to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. These beautiful, endangered primates only live in the mountain forests of central Africa, spanning three countries: Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorillas used to be listed as being critically endangered but thanks to the supreme conservation efforts of Dian Fossey and her legacy, their numbers have steadily increased, and today there are estimated to be about 1 000 gorillas left in the wild. This still puts them on the endangered list but Uganda and Rwanda in particular are working hard to protect them. That’s where tourism – and my bucket list – comes in.
Unique Family Travels (www.uniquefamilytravels.com) has teamed up with G-Adventures to provide a once-in-a-lifetime three-day trek through the villages and rainforests of Uganda and Rwanda, with the breathtaking reward of finding yourself in the company of a family of gorillas.
What to expect?
Gorillas live in tight-knit family groups, with a dominant male keeping watch and protecting the females and offspring. Male gorillas – the silverbacks, so called because of their distinctive silver backsides – are twice the size of females, at about 195kg and 1.7m tall. Gorillas live on average 40-50 years and form complex social bonds, the same as humans. They are gentle giants who eat leaves and plants.
The number of people who can trek to specific family each day is severely limited, in order to protect these magnificent primates. Visits also only last an hour and absolutely no interaction is allowed – these are wild animals in their natural habitat. Proper hiking attire must be worn as you are trekking through a rainforest – expect lots of lush vegetation, undergrowth, nettles and mud! G-Adventures recommends that no one under 15 attempts the hike.
I want to go! What next?
If you want to take the three day trekking-trip with Unique Family Travels, all you need to do is book and manage your own flights and visas. Rwandair, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways and Etihad all fly to Kigali, Rwanda, from where the tour departs to Uganda. After driving to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you’ll rest and relax before the gorilla trek the next day. On the third day, you’ll return to Kigali, where you’ll visit the Genocide Memorial for insight into the country’s turbulent history.
And the fine print?
Your itinerary can be adjusted and customised if you’d like to stay longer. The treks are available throughout the year and start from AED 9000 per person, excluding flights. The price includes a tour guide, park fees and permits, transport to and from activities, accommodation for two nights with breakfast, the museum fee and other activity fees. For more information, visit www.uniquefamilytravels.com
What are you waiting for! Dust off that bucket list and experience one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights… mountain gorillas in the wild.