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THE EAST AFRICAN SERIES, DAY 14&15

Kigali – Mgahinga National Park

Uganda gorilla trek. After crossing the border into country 156, we were dropped off at Gahinga Lodge, an incredible eco resort in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

A FIREPLACE IN THE BEDROOM MADE ME FEEL LIKE KING HENRY VIII

Being in the middle of the National Park I wasn’t sure what to expect. The roads leading up here were as unpaved as anything in the DRC. But on arrival we were given tea, Prosecco, watermelon juice, scones and the nicest hot chocolate I have ever had. I am not a fan of hot chocolate but after tasting this things might just change.

WHERE IS GAHINGA LODGE?

Gahinga Lodge

Government entry advice

ROOMS

This place is epic, the lodges are incredible and the size of maybe 5 hotel rooms. There is a separate living room and bedroom both with their own fireplace and there is nothing quite like sleeping with the fire burning.

You are pretty much lifted and laid here by the staff. During capacity there is 1.5 staff per guest (max 16) but there were only ever 9 guests during our stay which meant there was always someone waiting hand on foot to grab you a hot chocolate or add coal to your fire.

DAILY INFO… DAY 14&15

  • HOTEL – Gahinga Lodge
  • FOOD – Grilled Chicken
  • ATTRACTIONS – Gorilla Trekking
  • STEPS – 21,200
  • MILES – 82.4 miles

COMMON AREA

When staying in hotel accom it’s rare to meet other travellers because common areas are divided where you often have your own seating area. But because the hotel is so small and most guests are in pairs they often sit together around the only fire in the sitting room.

It’s great to meet others who have done their gorilla trek and who can offer tips about their experience too. It’s also another excuse to drink copious amounts of hot chocolate.

Uganda gorilla trek

GORILLAS TREK (Day 15)

The 3 of us set out to the National Park which turned out to be just 100yards from the lodge. From here we met another couple from NZ who would join us. 5 people for this hike is an absolute result, often this can be 8.

GORILLAS TREKKING IS CURRENTLY AT THE TOP OF THE BUCKET LIST

After maybe 90mins of average hiking we met the trackers and prepared ourselves for an hour in the company of the gorillas. We got our cameras ready and received a quick spray of hand sanitiser. Regardless of where you decide to gorilla trek; Uganda, Rwanda or the DRC you must wear a face mask as the gorillas can be vulnerable to human diseases.

Uganda gorilla trek

FLAG….

  • BLACK represents the African people.
  • YELLOW represents African sunshine.
  • RED represents the colour of blood, through which all Africans are connected.
  • The grey crowned crane with raised leg symbolises the forward movement of the country.

GORILLAS

From the second I seen the gorillas, even before we got close, I could see it was going to be so much better than the DRC trek. Everything just seemed so open and the gorillas did not seemed to mind we were there. We had plenty of them walking past us without a care in the world. As opposed to the DRC were they did not want us anywhere near them and even set to charge a few times.

The hour here went especially quick and I could not have asked for better opportunities, however the little kid playing with its older brother could have decided to just come out a little further 😬

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

Meanwhile I had one of the brothers come out and literally sit on my lap. I was keen to stay but the rangers asked me to slowly stand and give them space, possibly due to new Covid regulations.

Then the silverback decided to walk over and just lay down for some chew, just 2 metres away. It’s amazing how safe they feel because for any animal lying down they are at their most vulnerable. Then again he likely knows, little old us are of no threat to big old him.

MASSAGE

Now I know why everyone says an hour is just not enough, when you are getting such incredible photo opportunities you could easily spend the rest of the day there! But anyway it was time to head back to the lodge for some hard earned hot chocolate, I am in danger of turning into a teenage girl at this point.

As part of your stay you are entitled to a 50min free massage and what a time to have it, after the trek. The massage hut is in what can only be described as Hagrid’s Lodge and it was unreal.

Uganda gorilla trek

BLISS

Not only was it a good massage but there was everything else. A small pot of coal heating the room made it all very warm and cosy and then to top it off the thunder and lightning started making it an entirely unique experience on its own! I really do sound like a teenage girl!

Uganda gorilla trek

BBQ

Tonight we had a great barbecue that was enjoyed by all the guests together. We had the heap, from chicken and veg skewers to Irish potatoes, I kid you not. One thing I did not expect to have here was Irish potatoes, in fact this entire region produces nothing but Irish potatoes. They say the first potatoes seeds planted here came from Ireland and the cycle has never stopped.

SUMMED UP….

  • MVP – The staff here basically lift and lay you
  • HIGHLIGHT – The gorillas

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is the experience with the gorillas I was waiting for. After being at the top of my bucket list for a number of years it was good to finally live it! Something I will never forget.

NEXT UP

Moving to Bwindi for the entirely unique Gorilla Habituation experience and another lodge, here’s hoping for a fire in the bedroom!! Click to read.

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
156/229

This post is part of The East African Series, for the entire series click here or for episode 1, click here.
To watch the video of my trip, head to my highlights on my Instagram.

Question Time

  • Have you been Gorilla Trekking?
  • Where was it?
  • What was your experience like?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

Send this to someone who might like it
THE RWANDAN GENOCIDE & A TOOTHACHE
SH*T SCARED AT THE GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE

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