This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we booked our tour with the Rwanda Gorilla Safaris and we wanted to first meet our friends in Uganda for their wedding but nevertheless Moses, planned our trip well straight away from Uganda. The trip began with our driver picking us up in Kampala from our friends home in Kololo. They were on time and did not charge extra for picking us up at the location of our choice. Our driver was very knowledgeable about the surrounding areas and also a very efficient and safe driver. He conducted our game drives the way we planned and coordinated all of the park fees, lodging and meal arrangements.
Our first destination was Mburo National Park which included a boat ride on Mburo Lake. We high recommend this boat ride as they were many schools of hippos, crocodiles, and birds. Also, while driving through the park we spotted many impala, warthogs, water buck, zebra, and buffaloes. Our package also included a horse ride through parts of the park where we saw these animals at eye level. We signed up for the Budget accommodations and they were great. Our first night at Eagle’s Nest Lodge was very beautiful and the service was great. We had a tent on a platform with comfortable beds inside and a self-contained bathroom. There was no running hot water but the staff heated water and brought it to our room gladly whenever we asked. The food was good even when we showed up very late for dinner. Breakfast was on time and was exactly as we ordered.
On the drive to Bwindi we stop at the museum of Southern Uganda which was very informative called Igongo cultural centre. Also, to reach Bwindi we drove through Queen Elizabeth National Park where we spotted all of the previously mentioned animals but also elephants and lions as well. In Bwindi we stayed at Buhoma Community Lodge which was inside the park. It had the same platform/tent layout with a self-contained bathroom including running hot water. We stayed here 2 nights, the food was good and the atmosphere was very pleasant. Everyone staying there was either finished with or on their way to the gorilla trek so there were many stories to be shared. The staff was very attentive.
Our gorilla trek happened the next day and it was great. We were separated into groups at the bottom of the mountain according to which gorilla family we would track and see. Porters to carry your gear and walking sticks were available for extra purchase. My wife and I did not purchase these and we were freely fine during the hike. Our hike lasted about 4 hours until we came across the gorilla family. Other groups saw their gorilla family much sooner the first being 40 minutes. It was a beautiful hike and the guides stopped as often as the group requested.
Be sure to bring plenty of water since there is no way of telling how long you will be hiking. Also it is recommended to wear long sleeves as sometime bush walking shoes are necessary to catch up with the gorilla family. Once we got to the gorilla family we met the trackers that had been communicating with our guide via Radio call to direct us to them. You have 1 hour to view the family and the guides try to clear away good view points for you to see the family. It was an amazing thing to see these animals in their natural habitat as they were swinging of tress playing and eating with each other.
After the hike we took a community walking tour of Buhoma Village were the showed us the local banana beer and gin makers, the school grounds and a beautiful walk through banana fields and along the river.
The next day was a quick breakfast and half way drive back to Kigali. The Lodge served us breakfast, packed us lunch, and we also stopped at a restaurant for lunch. There was no shortage of food.
Be prepared for few hours of time in the car transferring to Rwanda via the Cyanika border to Ruhengeri Volcanoes National Park where we had the second gorilla trekking on the following day, hike to the famous Dian Fossey and we loved and show the great work she did and she left good legacy for the survival of mountain gorillas in Africa.
Our driver, Emma was great. He was very knowledgeable and made sure that we stayed on schedule. He asked us always whether we are all fine and we used to respond as team “we are all fine” and it was fun for us, making sure that our trip was comfortable every step of the way. He even bought us avocados, pineapples, jack fruits and others later after my wife, daughter and son expressed interest in purchasing some from a roadside stand.
Overall, we highly recommend this trip. The coordination across continents was easy with the management office and the driver was excellent.