There is a reason why so many people enjoy traveling. It’s an excellent (and potentially expensive) hobby that opens you up to hundreds of new experiences and pushes you out of your comfort zone. You’re sure to have a great and rerlaxing time wherever you go. That is unless you view hiking Mount Everest as a travel destination.
Putting all jokes aside, traveling is truly eye-opening. You can explore some of the worlds greatest sights like the Taj Mahal, The Great Wall of China, The Pyramids of Giza, Big Ben and so on.
As great as visiting the Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China sounds, one of the coolest places in the world to visit has to be Australia. Why Australia? Well, there are plenty of reasons.
The best places to visit in Australia
1. Sydney Harbour
First stop in Australia has to be the Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Harbour is the most iconic spot in Australia due to its awesome beaches and the famous Sydney Opera House. On Australia.com, the Sydney Harbour is described as, “an aquatic playground for Sydneysiders, with more than 240 kilometres (150 miles) of shoreline, punctuated by unspoiled beaches, picturesque gardens, and pockets of natural bush.”
2. Great Barrier Reef
Secondly, you have Australias all-round natural beauty. The geographical landscapes as well as the vast array of wildlife you have the chance to interact with are truly unique in Australia. There are a large number of nature tours you can take, from diving down to the Great Barrier Reef to visiting the remote areas of Tasmania. There is even a nature tour that gives you the chance to swim with a platypus!
Plus, beyond going out and seeing all the creatures the continent has to offer, you can also visit some of those aforementioned landscapes. For instance, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a beautiful sight due to the rare ‘Red Centre’ rock formation you can see.
Still, this is just one of many places to visit that contains some of Australia’s great nature. The Cairns rainforest is a breathtaking place, with luscious green trees, waterfalls, and – you guessed it – a bunch of animals!
Plus, there is plenty more to do in Australia than visit Sydney and go to the rainforests or beaches.
4. Melbourne’s quirky laneways
For instance, The Laneways of Melbourne are, in a word, awesome. Containing plenty of bars, music, and street artwork, visiting the Laneways is a fun time that does not require you to get down and dirty. Still, if one of your travel companions wants to see the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park while you want to go to the Laneways, you would have to coordinate on how to get from Melbourne to Uluru. But that is beside the point. The point is that Australia is a great place to visit, and it should most definitely be on your list of travel destinations.
Dark tourism is certainly a controversial topic. It’s a topic I find a little unsettling but intriguing at the same time. Visiting places renowned with death is a tricky concept. Sure, it’s a chance to pay your respects to the victims, but, you have to be careful to see it as the site of a tragedy first-of-all and second as a tourist attraction.
“For many years humans have been attracted to sites and events that are associated with death, disaster, suffering, violence and killing.
J John Lennon
What is Dark Tourism?
Dark Tourism to put it in simple terms is tourism to places where the worst events in human history happened – places like Auschwitz, the killing fields in Cambodia and other places that owe its notoriety to death, disaster and atrocity. It’s a growing tourism movement especially since the release of Dark Tourist on Netflix.
In this blog, I write about 10 popular Dark Tourist attractions that we’ve visited on our travels. And what we really thought about each attraction.
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My top 10 Dark Tourist Attractions
Here’s the summarized list of Dark Tourist attractions (scroll down to read about each attraction in detail) –
S-21, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Choeung Ek Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Westgate Mall, Nairobi, Kenya
War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Kigali Genocide Memorial, Rwanda
Hotel des Milles Collines, Kigali, Rwanda
Site of 9/11
Alcatraz, San Francisco
Warning you will need to be emotionally prepared for what you’re about to read…
Location | St.113, Boeung Keng Kang III, Boeung Keng Kang, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Opening Hours | Every day from 8:00am – 5:00pm
Also known as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, this is one of the most popular Cambodian genocide tours you can do. It is a former Secondary School which was used as a Security Prison during the Khmer Rouge regime which haunted Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. During its time as a prison up to 20,000 people were imprisoned here and it was used as a torture and execution site (one of 196 in the country).
Prisoners were shackled to the walls, the floor or to a long iron bar in the larger rooms. They were forbidden to speak to one another. There day here began at 4:30am and they were served but a few mouthfuls of porridge and leaf soup daily. They were sometimes even forced to consume human faeces or urine!
Prisoners were regularly beaten with searing hot tools and electric shocks. More extremely they were hanged, suffocated with plastic bags or cut with knives. Prisoners were even used in medical experiments, without any anaesthetic they had organs removed or blood drained.
It is believed that more than 12,000 prisoners died here.
Location | Roluos Village, Sangkat Cheung Aek, Phnom Penh Cambodia
Opening Hours | Monday – Saturday 7:30am – 5:30pm
Choeung Ek Killing Fieldsare one of the largest site of burial for the victims of the Cambodian Genocide. It is located about 17 km from Phnom Penh. Over 9,000 bodies were discovered at this particular site between 1975 to 1979. A lot more are said to be buried here and bones and skulls continue to come to the surface to this day.
It is believed there are 388 Killing Fields scattered across Cambodia, in total they are home to over 1 million graves.
One of the most harrowing sites at Choeung Ek is the glass Buddhist Stipa which is filled with more than 5,000 skulls. The mood at this attraction is predictable sombre. Your audio guide will explain how babies were killed by smashing their skulls against trees. It’s almost unbearable to hear.
My top tip | is to visit S-21 and Choeung Ek on the same dayas it will help you understand better the horrible history of the Khmer Rouge.
A little more unusual addition to the list as this isn’t a memorial, it is still a working shopping mall. But it was the site of the Westgate Mall Shooting Massacre which occurred from September 21st – 24th 2013. 71 people were killed here, including 4 of the attackers.
The Shopping Center was under a 4-day siege during the attack and the attack was claimed by militant group Al-Shabab.
Because this was quite a recent atrocity be careful not to take too many photos and don’t mention the attack aloud as a lot of the staff here were present during the attack and as you can imagine it would have been a very traumatizing experience for them.
4. The War Remnants Museum
Location: 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Opening Hours | 07:30 – 16:30 every day
The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War. It hosts a number of themed rooms all displaying different harrowing aspects of the war.
One room contains tiger cages which was used to house prisoners during the war, another room houses very graphic images of the war. Most of these images show the effects of Agent Orange. – a chemical widely used by the U.S with devastating effects. What affected me most were the photos of innocent Vietnamese children maimed by this Agent Orange. You will also see a guillotine used by the French & South Vietnamese to execute prisoners.
The outside of the Museum is where the military equipment is held. Equipment like a UH-1 helicopter, a F-5A fighter and even an M48 Patton tank is on display here.
This dark tourist attraction attracts upwards of half a million visitors every year!
The Kigali Genocide Museum is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, which happened in 1994, lasted for just 100 days & resulted in 600,000 deaths. It was a genocide by Hutu’s (the largest ethic group in Rwanda) against the Tutsi’s another ethnic group – it resulted in neighbors killing neighbors and friends killing friends.
Together with the Killing Fields in Cambodia – the Genocide Museum is probably the most emotional place on this list for me. I cried several time during the audio tour as victims recounted their stories. There is also a children’s memorial here as well as an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world.
The museum explains the atrocities of the Rwandan Genocide with so much emotion. It is a meaningful tribute to the atrocities that occurred in 1994.
Location | Hôtel Des Mille Collines 2KN 6th Ave, Kigali Rwanda
Another unique addition to this list of dark tourist destinations throughout the world. Hotel Rwanda or Hotel des Mille Collines as its known today was made famous by the 2004 movie of the same name.
The movie is based on the true story of hotelier Paul Rusesabagina who welcomed more than a thousand Tutsi refugees to hide safely at his hotel during the Rwandan genocide. His heroic efforts saved the lives of many.
Today, the hotel still stands as a luxury hotel. You can choose to spend a few nights here like we did – the rooms are gorgeous as well as the stunning outdoor swimming pool and on-site restaurants. Or if you’re on a budget why not eat at one of their 3 restaurants.
Perhaps the most famous of all dark tourism attractions – Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi Concentration Camps. Over 1.1 million men, women & children lost their lives here.
Auschwitz is a symbol of terror, a word we’ve come to associate with some of the darkest days in European history. Your visit here is certain to emotionally affect you, so allow time for reflection afterwards.
The Auschwitz memorial holds the original camp blocks, gas chambers and crematoria. But the most touching aspect of the memorial was seeing all the personal possessions of the victims on display. You will see their shoes, their suitcases (some with their names) and their camp clothes. Here’s a detailed post about what to expect when visiting Auschwitz, I found it so helpful for my visit!
The number of prisoners at the camp at any one time reached 100,000.
Opening Hours | Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 5:00pm
Way back in the year 79 A.D a huge volcanic eruption wiped out the city of Pompeii (close to current day city of Naples). Pompeii is perhaps the ‘least dark tourist attraction’ on this list and some may say it’s more of an important historic & archaelogocal site. Nevertheless I decided to include it as certain elements of Pompeii are very dark indeed.
The ash from the eruption preserved the city in an epic way, on your visit here you will see bodies encased in ash stuck in positions to protect themselves from the eruption. Bodies rolled up in a ball, bodies with their hands outstretched as if to stop the oncoming lava. There are even dogs in these same positions. It’s astounding that 2,000 years later we can witness Pompeii in almost pristine condition. It is honestly like a movie set.
Did you know – Pompeii is visited by over 2.5 million tourists annually
Also known as ‘The Rock’, Alcatraz remains a cultural icon to this day, it has been featured or referred to in many Hollywood movies, books and songs.
This famed former maximum-security prison once housed Al Capone & Machine Gun Kelly as well as many other notable names. It was in operation for 29 years and the aspect that former prisoners say they found the most difficult was being able to look across the water and see life continuing as normal in San Francisco.
Many of the cells and other areas within the prison remain much as they were when the prison was open.
Whether you visit just one or a couple of the dark tourist attractions on this list I’m sure it will affect you in some way. Dark tourism is certainly not for the faint-hearted and the relationship between tourism and death/atrocity is a curious one to say the least.
Those against the dark tourism movement say that its voyeuristic and inappropriate. But I feel dark tourism can be undertaken in a meaningful way – dress appropriately, don’t take selfies and try to take on a somber and respectful attitude during your visit.
Above all, we must always honor and respect the victims of these atrocities during our visit.
Tell me – have you ever visited a dark tourist attraction on your travels? Let me know in the comments below.
If like me you like to travel a lot, you probably have a number of bucket list trips in your head that you’re itching to go on. There are always going to be hurdles in the way to making these trips a reality, and the most common hurdle for most people is financial. Travelling is expensive, I’m not going to lie and it is often challenging to know how to make a dream trip become reality when you’re savings account is looking pretty bleak. However, it IS POSSIBLE as long as you follow some basic steps, which I am going to go through right now.
Is There A Cheaper Alternative?
You really need to ask yourself whether there is a similar trip that you could do which would give you the same thrill as your bucket list holiday, but at a much cheaper price. You might be surprised when you actually start to research this. You could discover that it is actually perfectly possible. But, hang on a moment before you resort to this, have a read of my other great tips below!
The High-Risk, Last-Minute Strategy
If you are prepared to take a bit of a risk, you could always aim for the last-minute strategy, which is where you wait until just before the date you are due to depart, and then try to find last minute deals. Although it won’t work every time, when it does work you are essentially going to get the trip you have always dreamed of, but at a fraction of the usual price. Looking at last minute websites is generally something to consider year-round anyway, just in case you come across a cheap holiday you can’t resist.
Alternative Income Streams
Sometimes there are no compromises you can make on the trip itself, and no last minute options, and you simply need to try and scrape together more cash. That means finding alternative income streams, which is always going to be a possibility, although that is not to say it is always easy or simple. But whether it’s looking at secured loans from Evolution Money, or simply asking your boss for a raise. Often this one alternative income stream is sufficient in ensuring that you can finally afford the trip of your dreams.
Save For Longer
Maybe you just need to allow more time to save – can you push that bucket list holiday off until next year instead? Although it does mean putting off your travels, that could be worth it if it means that you don’t have to compromise. It might help you to plan out your savings to ensure that you have enough saved in time. Otherwise you could end up feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole process. As long as you stick with your savings plan, you will get there in the end.
A lot of you have asked us – what is the best airbnb to book for 2021. And I’m here to answer your cries, after mountains of research, as to what I think trully are the best airbnb’s to book for 2021.
Listing 21 of the best airbnb’s to book for 2021 from a storybook cabin on a lava field in Iceland to a solar-powered houseboat bobbing along in the ocean off Portugal. After a trying 2020 I think we will all deserve a memorable and unique vacation in 2021! One of these airbnb’s will surely be exactly what the doctor ordered.
*P.S. If you aren’t on airbnb yet, click here to sign up and get up to €40 off your first stay. As an airbnb associate if you book some of the properties below I will get a small commission, whilst you still get the same great price!
1. Old Blockbuster Store, Bend, Oregon, USA
Rewind to the 90’s for the ultimate throwback sleepover with your gal (or guy) friends. Pillow fights optional 🙂
This airbnb is in fact the only blockbuster store open in the world, however, it is now only used as a place to lay your head. If you stay here – you will have free rein of the store’s entire film collection plus be treated to pizza, Pepsi and popcorn.
The stillness of this lakeside cabin in Saint-Didier-sur-Arroux (about a 2 hour drive from Paris) will be just what the doctor ordered after a hectic & stressful 2020. Stays include homemade breakfast. The only sound you’ll hear are sheeps, cows & the occasional herons on the lake.
No running water and no electricity – so a return to nature and a chance to fully unwind without distractions is certain to happen at this lakeside cabin. Located within Morvan Regional Natural Park and with stunning views of the Morvan Hills.The interior of the cabin has a rustic country-home feel and is divided into two levels
Floating on the Jordanopolis dam, less than a 2 hour drive from bustling Sao Paolo – is this dreamy & peaceful houseboat. To make your stay even sweeter homemade beer & sweets are included. Sunbathe on your private dock & take a break from it all.
This airbnb runs on solar power which provides fresh water, all your electricity needs and waste and water treatment. Pretty cool, huh?
The minimalist and cozy interior has a double bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen and even a fireplace
Located in the lava fields outside the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur in the South of Iceland lies this surreal cabin. A 3 & a half hour drive from the capital Reykjavik, this cabin is definitely somewhere I could escape to for a few weeks with a heap of good books & coffee.
This cabin was built all the way back in 1962 but was completely renovated in 2015. There are 3 single beds in the attic and one double bed in the bedroom – making it perfect for a unique family getaway.
A private waterfall, stunning views of the glacier in perhaps the cutest cabin in Iceland.
This desert Airstream just a 3 hours drive from Los Angeles boasts undisturbed views of the crazy-beautiful Joshua Tree landscape. It even features an outdoor hammock & outdoor bathtub for you to gaze at the stars in the clear night sky. At Joshua Tree – huge rock piles and hidden canyons await your discovery.
It is located on 1.5 acres with huge rock piles and hidden canyons in every direction. This is the airbnb for you if you’re after a quiet and pristine desert getaway.
This is a 2018 25 foot Flying Cloud Airstream, which is perfect for couples. There’s a queen bed in it’s own private bedroom at the back of the Airstream, and the dinette and couch can each convert into a full size bed.
A short & sweet hours drive from stunning Florence, this treehouse ticks all the boxes. Peace & tranquility are the order of the day for this beauty nestled In an olive grove. Also featuring a wraparound deck for you to admire the views from every angle.
This treehouse has a bedroom with an en-suite, an indoor fireplace, a little kitchenette – basically everything you need for a romantic getaway. There’s no internet here so take this is your chance to disconnect. This is definitely one for a special occasion.
A short drive from Canberra is this zen a-frame surrounded by the Australian countryside. Perched on a hill with 360 degree views of the beautiful Murrambidgee river flats and of the stunning Kimo valley.
An off-grid A-frame, solar power provides light and water. I mean, the shower even has a killer view and with no neighbours for several kilometers you are all on your own.
Take a road trip from Helsinki to this glass masterpiece with a fantastic view over The Gulf of Bothnia. Watch the northern lights from the comfort of your surprisingly warm & cosy glass cabin where the heated glass will guarantee you a clear view in any weather.
In winter time spot the Aurora Borealis if you are lucky and in summer time the midnight sun. A stay for the bucket list for sure. There’s even a sauna and hot tub on site.
Every igloo offers a 180°-degree view over the sea and horizon.
A solar houseboat on the open Mediterranean sea near Faro, Portugal – I know where I’ll be spending Summer 2021.
The vessel is Portuguese, 100% ecological, self-sufficient, powered by sunlight and with its own wastewater treatment plant This is surely the creme de la creme of houseboats. It is anchored in the wonderful Armona bay, in Ria Formosa.
A short car ride from Glasgow, gaze at the twinkling constellations under a cosy tartan blanket at this tiny airship. AirShip 2 is an iconic, insulated aluminum pod with views of the Sound of Mull.
The airship is trully a special place in a remote location – it’s the perfect spot to unwind. You will feel like you’re in your own little paradise with no distractions. It’s equally gorgeous in every season.
Experience the jungle far away from the crowds, listen for the crazy call of the famed howler monkey. Explore the Rio Dulce (literally just outside your door) by paddleboard or take a boat to yummy local restaurant Rosita’s.
A true experience of the jungle, each treehouse has a double bed, fan and WiFi. It’s simply decorated but I mean for that price you can’t go wrong!
An off-the-grid stay to remember surrounded by the lush British Colombian rainforest. Get to know the cute seals and otters that roam the waters outside your tent. This unique getaway certainly offers a one of a kind digital detox experience.
The interior design is quite bohemian and cozy. You can choose from a private waterfront tent cabin or private rooms in the wood framed Yurt, each with has an ocean view. Each room here sleeps a maximum of 2 people.
You will be picked up from the government dock in Egmont to be transported to this magical place – this is included in your room rate.
Just 10 minutes away from Big Falls County Park where you can enjoy numerous trails. My preference would be to stay in the winter and watch the snow fall from your window with a hot cup of chocolate.
It’s been designed so as to fully immerse you in the forest of Wisconsin -each cabin has a double bed and a bench that additional guests can sleep on (you must bring your own sleeping bag for the bench).
There’s no such thing as a bad view of Lake Como in my opinion, but this bright apartment certainly has one of the best. It’s far enough away from the hustle & bustle so you can soak up the phenomenal views in peace.
Thankfully too, a short walk will take you to a pier where you can catch a boat to the other towns along Lake Como. You may even bump into Como’s most famous resident – George Clooney.
18. Big house above the ocean, Bodega Bay, California
This home has so many cozy corners that you may not want to venture outside but the beach is only down your private steps. Spend your days hiking or whale watching. It’s vantage point is ideal – perched atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific approximately 4 miles north of Bodega Bay.
The interior of the property boasts a spiral staircase, raked ceiling and coastal decor enhancing the beach house ambiance. Plus you have your own hot tub overlooking the ocean.
This stunning loft overlooking Playa de Quintay – where you can surf or scuba dive the pacific ocean you overlook. This unique escape is just 90 minutes from Santiago and 45 from Valparaiso and Casablanca.
A short walk to the cute little town of Quintay and the beach is just a few steps away. Ask the host to prepare a fire pit for you to enjoy the stunning sunset.
You will feel like you woke up inside a painting, I mean, LOOK at that scenery! Explore the surrounding hiking trails and see some of the most over-the-top glaciers and glaciers in this otherworldly valley.
This holiday cottage is situated in Juv. It’s a traditional country style cottage with a four poster bed and a fantastic view of the fjord.
Have breakfast on the veranda in the morning and spend relaxing evenings by the fire place. Then, fall asleep to the sound of the river running nearby. Bliss!
Modern industrial architecture meets old-world charm. Luc 22 was designed in harmony with its natural alpine environment. Having lived in Queenstown myself for over 2 years, I can assure you that there are stunning views around every corner, but surely Luc 22 has one of the best in town! Look at that outdoor tub.
Whew, and there you have it my list for the best airbnb’s in the world to book for 2021. After seeing them all, I’d love to know which one is your favorite? Please let me know in the comment section below.
Our honest review of Gorilla-trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. With detailed advice on how to book a tour, where to stay and what to wear on your trek.
For our honeymoon this past August, we were lucky enough to tick off a major bucket-list item. Gorilla-trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest, Uganda was something I’d wanted to do for a very long time. And to be honest I wasn’t quite sure what to expect! From our research it seems everyone has a different experience. Gorilla-trekking in Uganda is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
We combined the gorilla trek in Bwindi with a safari in Serengeti(as well as other amazing stops) and I have to admit it was the best honeymoon I could imagine for myself!
As promised, in this piece, I will give you all the details about Gorilla-trekking in Uganda. As well as answer all the burning questions you have been asking us since our return.
If you plan on spending more time in Uganda, this guide to visiting Uganda is so detailed and I found it really helpful!
Why add Gorilla-trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to your bucket list
The sad fact is that there are only two populations of mountain Gorillas left in the world. One population lives in the Virunga mountains of Central Africa. The second population (and the one we visited) lives deep in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.
According to results released in May 2018, the number of mountain Gorillas is estimated to be just 1,000 individuals. This puts them on the critically endangered list, which is just two classifications away from completely extinct!
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Why we chose Bwindi Impenetrable Forest over other area’s in Africa
Gorilla-trekking in Uganda is only done in two national parks – Bwindi & Mgahinga. At the last count, there were found to be 17 mountain Gorilla families living in Bwindi and just one family in Mgahinga. Bwindi has almost 500 individual mountain gorilla’s – which makes your chances of seeing these majestic creatures all the more likely. The range of accommodation options in Bwindi were far greater too.
Why didn’t we choose to do gorilla-trekking in Rwanda you may ask? The cost of a gorilla-trekking permit in Rwanda is significantly higher at $1500USD per permit versus Uganda’s $600USD. So, a primary reasoning in choosing Uganda over Rwanda was the cost. Trekking for gorillas in Rwanda is supposedly easier and a less-strenuous hike – this day trip from Kigali is highly recommended.
Our experience Gorilla-trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest
We started planning our Gorilla-trek in Uganda at least six months in advance. Advance planning is essential as the permits sell out quickly – there is a limited number available daily. We researched all the gorilla-trekking companies in depth and finally decided on Adventure in the Wild. Adventure in the Wild are fairly priced are quick and honest in their responses to our questions over email. We also liked the accommodation options they offered for our two nights in Bwindi impenetrable forest. This particular tour is very similar to the option we chose.
At the start of our 4-day tour, our guide – Elias (who was fantastic by the way) collected us from our accommodation in Kigali, Rwanda. We planned a more unique route and spent a night in Akagera National Park. Before making the long journey into Uganda and finally to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Be prepared for long periods in the car, the journey from Kigali & Entebbe to Bwindi is at least 4 hours each way.
We arrived in the late evening to our accommodation at Gorilla Mist Camp and quickly dropped our bags at our cabin before going straight to the buffet dinner. We were told that it would be a fairly early start the next day (breakfast at 7am) so we headed to bed early and found hot water bottles in our bed which was a cute touch as it does get pretty chilly in the evenings.
The day of the trek in Bwindi
We had breakfast before our departure to the meeting point at Bwindi National Park headquarters, there we were given a briefing and treated to a welcome dance by the local women! You are then split into smaller groups and they try to match you with others of similar fitness levels – most of the other trekkers were over 50 so we weren’t expecting an overly strenuous hike. You can choose to hire a porter to carry your bag and help you on the hike – which I highly recommend doing as it’s giving more income back to the locals. And even though I’m fit I definitely used my porters help more than I expected to. I think it costs from $10 USD for a porter.
It took us less than an hour to reach our gorilla family. It was a steep downhill climb through dense forest but we suddenly stumbled upon a family of 8 gorillas eating near a tree. You have only an hour in their presence to observe and take photos.
For our two nights in Bwindi, we stayed at Gorilla Mist Camp. It’s rustic-chic and we had our own cottage with a large balcony and fantastic views. Dinner and breakfast are included with your room and is served at set times. Also, because of it’s remote location electricity and hot water are only available at certain times. It gets cold at night but the staff place a hot water bottle in your bed at turndown service, which is a wonderful touch.
Some other great hotel options near Bwindi include,
Bwindi Forest Farm and Campsite – at this basic campsite you can choose a double room with a shared bathroom or pitch a tent. It’s a great budget option and offers breakfast.
Bwindi Forest Lodge – with lovely garden views this Lodge also has a restaurant and children’s playground. The rooms are cabin-style and comfortable.
Bwindi Guest House – set in a gorgeous location and with a garden and a terrace to enjoy the views. The rooms are larger than most in the area. There’s also an on-site restaurant and 24-hour reception.
Rushaga Gorilla Lodge – one of the only hotels in the area with an outdoor pool – this is certainly one of the more luxurious options.
Is Gorilla-trekking in Uganda safe?
In short yes, our experience felt completely safe and we didn’t have any problems. Before even venturing into the national park, you are given a detailed briefing at the park headquarters. Some of the most important things to note from this are that:
You must remain 7 metres away from the Gorillas at all times, don’t eat or drink in their presence
Don’t make any loud noises
Refrain from using flash photography
Do not may eye contact with the Silverback Gorilla
If a Gorilla gets too close to you then you are told to act submissively and bend or crouch down – do not run away!
Our gorilla family were very habituated and unaffected when a large branch broke off from a nearby tree making a loud noise. At one point, our Ranger even took me right up close to a large female Gorilla sleeping on the ground. She wasn’t affected by my presence, even though she knew I was standing just a metre away.
Gorillas are notoriously clever. We had an hour in their presence, and when the time was up the Gorillas knew before we did and began moving into the thick forest away from our prying eyes.
In short, follow all the guidelines outlined in your briefing and also your rangers recommendations while in the Gorilla’s presence and you will have no issues.
How much does it cost to go Gorilla-trekking in Uganda?
The permit alone costs $600USD per person, which is significantly lower than Rwanda but higher than the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can also choose to have a local guide accompany you on the trek, to help you with your backpack and assist you down the steep hills and narrow paths to your gorilla family. This costs $15USD per guide.
In my opinion, it is definitely worth it. And even though I consider myself fit, my guide was incredibly helpful whilst going down the very steep muddy hill to our gorilla family. In hiring a guide you are also contributing to the local community.
Besides the permit and the local guide, you will still need to pay for transportation to and from Bwindi as well as accommodation here. This is why we chose to book with Adventure in the Wild as they gave us a 4 night package which included everything.
Conservation of the mountain Gorillas is not as cheap as you may think. Up until mid-2018 they were classed as ‘endangered species’. A lot of the money from the Gorilla permits is invested in trying to increase their population. And thankfully it has helped, as their numbers now surpass 1,000.
About 75% of the funds from the permits are channeled back to support the growth of these Gorillas. The local community takes about 10% and the government retains the remaining 15%.
Thick wool socks, preferably merino wool so you feet don’t get too sweaty. These are a great pair of merino wool socks! We also recommend tucking your pants into your socks to limit insect bites
With all of the above tips, we hope you have all the information you need for your Gorilla-trekking experience in Uganda. It is trully an amazing experience. One you will undoubtedly remember for the rest of your life!
If you have any further questions about Gorilla-trekking in Bwindi – feel free to ask us in the comment section below.