As the world continues to grapple with the devastating effects of COVID-19 and its impact on travel, we are also aware there are unprecedented opportunities right now to support local communities and conservation efforts in Africa and have highly unusual private experiences in the wild. One such offering for those who would feel comfortable traveling to Africa now and can consider private charter flights from their home countries: Gorilla-trekking (with near-private viewing experiences) in Rwanda, which has been open to international travelers since July 1. In an effort to protect these endangered primates, the number of visitors has been brought down to six people per gorilla family—an even more intimate experience than before. It is also possible, depending on availability, to take over one of the two top lodges in and around Volcanoes National Park: Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Bisate Lodge.
Rwanda is a country near and dear to my heart. During my time there in spring of 2019, it seemed to encapsulate our very mission at Indagare: to inspire and empower people to change their lives through travel. Whether it was my days spent roaming about Kigali, on safari in Akagera National Park, trekking for gorillas in Volcanoes National Park or picking tea leaves beside the Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda’s people, landscapes, history and animals moved me deeply. At this post-COVID moment, I am reminded of ubumuntu, a Kinyarwanda word meaning to be human, which was recently introduced to me by Honore Gatera, the Director of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, who shared the following description of the concept during a recent Indagare Global Classroom on the Rwandan Genocide: “The concept of ubumuntu is our value, which guides us through what we do,” he explained. “We believe in humanity. We believe in being a true human being with values that bring us all together—that we will never face a genocide, crimes against humanity, racism. Humanity that can live in harmony wherever we are.” To me, the essence of Rwanda is the recognition of humanity, every individual’s humanity.
Rwanda is a special place, and the opportunity for more private access to it, via charter and a takeover option along with gorilla-trekking is extraordinary. Not surprisingly, there are a number of protocols and requirements in place to protect the Rwanda mountain gorillas and area park rangers, including a negative COVID-19 test for visitors taken 72 hours prior to travel. Conservation efforts continue to help support local economies and protect these endangered creatures, and tourism to the region is a crucial way to protect them from poachers.
Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about private gorilla-trekking in Rwanda, other unique wildlife experiences in Africa or more advice on destinations and travel during COVID-19.