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When most people think of East Africa, hotels aren’t the first thing to come to mind. However, in recent years the growing adventure tourism industry in Rwanda and Uganda has set the stage for some world-class accommodations. Given the breathtaking landscape and the beautiful culture, the rapid growth of this region into a center for adventure travel is only natural.
On my journey throughout Rwanda and Uganda, which I set out on to meet endangered mountain gorillas face-to-face, I stayed at a few of these fine lodges and had the opportunity to experience African hospitality at its finest. There are stays that will be memorable for even the most seasoned traveler: a cozy retreat nestled in the rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside, a grand adventure lodge looking down onto the range of Virunga Volcanoes and more.
Mount Gahinga lodge sits at the base of the Mount Gahinga volcano — among others — and it offers individual luxury bandas and a central living space for relaxing at the end of the day. Nearby you have direct access to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and a village where you can meet the locals and experience community projects that are funded by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust.
Similar to the Mount Gahinga Lodge, the Virunga Lodge offers individual bandas and a large living space, coupled with service that’s second to none. What separates this lodge from the others (aside from the ~$900 per person nightly rate) is the location. Perched atop a mountain situated between two ancient caldera lakes, the Virunga Lodge provides you with a bird’s-eye view of the locale below and the entire range of Virunga Volcanoes right from your front porch.
By Chandler Bondurant
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.