After falling in love with South Africa last year, I made it my personal mission to make it back to the continent in 2017. This November, I was lucky enough to embark on another journey of a lifetime: tracking endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in the rain forests of Rwanda and Uganda. The four-hour hike through the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was one of the most challenging—and rewarding—experiences of my life, but the trip had so much more in store than I’d imagined, from dining on pan-African cuisine (with views of distant volcanoes) at Volcanoes Safaris’ Virunga Lodge to singing along with Uganda’s Batwa tribe on the outskirts of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. While wildlife remains the biggest reason why tourists visit these countries, it’s the locals who make you want to stay.
– Lindsey Olander, Editor