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#1 Rwanda + Uganda
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
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.