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TR: Rwanda National Parks, Trip of a Lifetime to see Gorillas, 2022

TR: Rwanda National Parks, Trip of a Lifetime to see Gorillas, 2022

Old Nov 27th, 2022, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by amyb View Post
But for the stinging bushes and the potential for bug bites, I would have wanted to be in shorts. It was warm enough for sure but also humid. If I were working out at home, I'd definitely have worn shorts and a tshirt if not a tank top. I was a sweaty mess all three days.

The people who want the guides to get the monkeys on the ground or let them touch them are probably the same ones throwing water bottles at sleeping lions to get them looking up for a photo. (Yes, it happens...)
Excellent trip report. We are headed to Rwanda next year and this has been most helpful. We are also doing both Akagera and Nyungwe along of course with the main event Volcanoes national park. So two gorilla treks, one chimp and one golden monkey. Did you have any issues with acclimatization to the heights during gorilla treks?

Any additional trips for the Chimpanzee treks in Nyungwe. Understand it starts really early and could involve up to an hour drive to the starting point where the chimps were last spotted. You were lucky to see them on the ground as I understand they are mostly in the trees in Nyungwe. Interesting that the more difficult gorilla trek turned out to be the better one for you. We are not as fit as you even though are kids are so have to balance that. I was told the Fossey camp hike is quite difficult or at least strenuous and not recommended as a day one activity. Unfortunately we only have 3 nights so with the two gorilla treks and the golden monkey we only have day one free. The way our trip is working out itís Volcanoes first , then Nyungwe and then Akagera timed at the end of May to take advantage of low season rates right at the end of the rainy season. Realize itís not best for last but hopefully will work out fine.

Your pictures were superb even at the lower resolution on Shutterfly you mentioned. What camera/ lenses did you use. Any tips for gorilla and chimp photography.
im a bit apprehensive about the PCR tests requirements for all the gorillas and chimps and rapid test for Akagera. We have all been vaccinated and boosted but still the risk of someone testing positive and ruining a very expensive vacation does give pause. Rwanda mist be one of the few places in the world outside China that still has such strict testing requirements. Assume yours were seamless. The costs of chimp treks in 2023 are now up to 250 pp along with the very expensive gorilla permits. Did you manage to take advantage of the $500 discounted permits this year- next year itís back to 1500 pp With a 30% discount if you do at least 2 nights per trek permit at Nyungwe and Akagera.

thanks again for the excellent report and pictures.

Last edited by AKR1; Nov 27th, 2022 at 09:43 AM.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 09:39 AM
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AKR, my very strong recommendation to you is for the treks, hire porters. They will be waiting at the start of the trek and you can hire 1 or 2 to assist you, and it is fairly cheap money (US$10 each, IIRC). They will do as little as carry your bag for you and as much as carry you. I am what I consider to be extremely fit and my porter dragged me out of ankle deep mud several times that I think I’d still be stuck in if he wasn’t there. Also they can be the hand up you need to make a steep step up or down, or catch you if you slip. Better still, they are all former poachers who are now gainfully employed supporting the gorilla tourism. You may want to ask your tour operator if porters are available for the chimps and Dian Fossey hike. I did not do those so I can’t speak to that.

In answer to your question, I had no trouble with the accllimatization, but we arrived in Rwanda on day 1, drove to Volcanoes on day 2, did golden monkey trek on day 3, so we had 3 days of light activity before we trekked to gorillas.

Whatever you bring for a camera, get out now and start practicing. Go to zoos or farms and shoot moving animals. Shoot in low light and bright sun. One of my gorilla days was overcast but bright, the other was in dark bamboo forest. You do not want to be spending that precious hour with the primates learning your camera. It doesn’t matter how good your camera is if you don’t know how to use it properly. I get somewhat insulted when people see my photos and say “you must have a great camera” when in reality I spend hundreds of hours learning how to use what I have properly.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by amyb View Post
AKR, my very strong recommendation to you is for the treks, hire porters. They will be waiting at the start of the trek and you can hire 1 or 2 to assist you, and it is fairly cheap money (US$10 each, IIRC). They will do as little as carry your bag for you and as much as carry you. I am what I consider to be extremely fit and my porter dragged me out of ankle deep mud several times that I think Iíd still be stuck in if he wasnít there. Also they can be the hand up you need to make a steep step up or down, or catch you if you slip. Better still, they are all former poachers who are now gainfully employed supporting the gorilla tourism. You may want to ask your tour operator if porters are available for the chimps and Dian Fossey hike. I did not do those so I canít speak to that.

In answer to your question, I had no trouble with the accllimatization, but we arrived in Rwanda on day 1, drove to Volcanoes on day 2, did golden monkey trek on day 3, so we had 3 days of light activity before we trekked to gorillas.

Whatever you bring for a camera, get out now and start practicing. Go to zoos or farms and shoot moving animals. Shoot in low light and bright sun. One of my gorilla days was overcast but bright, the other was in dark bamboo forest. You do not want to be spending that precious hour with the primates learning your camera. It doesnít matter how good your camera is if you donít know how to use it properly. I get somewhat insulted when people see my photos and say ďyou must have a great cameraĒ when in reality I spend hundreds of hours learning how to use what I have properly.
Thanks Amy.

We definitely plan to/will hire porters for each of us. Have heard precisely what you said from others regarding use of porters for the gorillas. Are there porters on the Nyungwe chimp treks?
I am a reasonable photographer with some experience so yes practicing is important but I wanted more to know specific advice on necessity of a full frame camera and fast lens in what I understand can be challenging photographic conditions shooting gorillas and chimps. The trade off is heavier equipment.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 11:42 AM
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Hello! I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Porters were available for both the chimps and the Dian Fossey hike. The Fossey hike was not especially difficult --it was like a very long day hike on a well-marked path. The hardest thing about it was that it was slippery and muddy. It wasn't even close to as hard as our difficult gorilla day because there isn't any bushwhacking.

None of us had problems with altitude. But the medical emergency on our first gorilla trek was a person with quite severe altitude sickness.

Camera-wise----I will post details on mine tomorrow as I'm home on mobile with a bad signal right now. I agree with Amy's rec to practice a ton. But the truth is that my fancy camera was great in Akagera and not great for chimps and gorillas. The very best photos were when we were lucky enough to get out of the forest cover. It's quite dark in those forests and dark+zoom is a lot to ask of any non-pro setup. For gorillas, we were so close that a lot of the best photos there were with our phones!

Our gorilla permits were $750 each (when we anticipated going in 2020 that was the price and we wanted to make sure we went before the anticipated increase to $1500. The permits were honored for this trip. The chimp permits were quite cheap when we got them.

Chimp tracking seems, from what we heard, like a real gamble. I think we were on the road by like 4:30 AM to meet our guide and take the very rough road to our group. We loved it and were happy with the experience but there's a decent chance of not getting much more than a glimpse of the chimps. Did we love it? Yes. Would I book it again? Yes! Is it comparable to gorillas? No---truly different.

The Covid testing requirements get revised regularly so there's a good chance you won't have to do all that before your tracks by the time your trip comes around. You should probably ask your trip operator what the contingencies are for a positive screen. We masked absolutely everywhere the entire trip until we saw gorillas. Including when we were just with our guide in the car because, while he was also testing regularly, he was also socializing and seeing his family when he was not with us and thus there seemed some risk of exposure. Just before we were about to see gorillas we were out at a local bar one evening and one local gave us a pretty hard time for wearing them (he was absolutely sloshed). Mostly no one cared that we were masking and understood why we were being so cautious.

I'll look again at your questions tomorrow and circle back.

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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by schlegal1 View Post
Hello! I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Porters were available for both the chimps and the Dian Fossey hike. The Fossey hike was not especially difficult --it was like a very long day hike on a well-marked path. The hardest thing about it was that it was slippery and muddy. It wasn't even close to as hard as our difficult gorilla day because there isn't any bushwhacking.

None of us had problems with altitude. But the medical emergency on our first gorilla trek was a person with quite severe altitude sickness.

Camera-wise----I will post details on mine tomorrow as I'm home on mobile with a bad signal right now. I agree with Amy's rec to practice a ton. But the truth is that my fancy camera was great in Akagera and not great for chimps and gorillas. The very best photos were when we were lucky enough to get out of the forest cover. It's quite dark in those forests and dark+zoom is a lot to ask of any non-pro setup. For gorillas, we were so close that a lot of the best photos there were with our phones!

Our gorilla permits were $750 each (when we anticipated going in 2020 that was the price and we wanted to make sure we went before the anticipated increase to $1500. The permits were honored for this trip. The chimp permits were quite cheap when we got them.

Chimp tracking seems, from what we heard, like a real gamble. I think we were on the road by like 4:30 AM to meet our guide and take the very rough road to our group. We loved it and were happy with the experience but there's a decent chance of not getting much more than a glimpse of the chimps. Did we love it? Yes. Would I book it again? Yes! Is it comparable to gorillas? No---truly different.

The Covid testing requirements get revised regularly so there's a good chance you won't have to do all that before your tracks by the time your trip comes around. You should probably ask your trip operator what the contingencies are for a positive screen. We masked absolutely everywhere the entire trip until we saw gorillas. Including when we were just with our guide in the car because, while he was also testing regularly, he was also socializing and seeing his family when he was not with us and thus there seemed some risk of exposure. Just before we were about to see gorillas we were out at a local bar one evening and one local gave us a pretty hard time for wearing them (he was absolutely sloshed). Mostly no one cared that we were masking and understood why we were being so cautious.

I'll look again at your questions tomorrow and circle back.
Thanks for your kind response.
While I have your attention let me ask a few more questions:

1. How were the driving times in Rwanda. Was what you were told generally accurate or were actual driving times longer? Our longest drive is from Nyungwe to Kigali that is supposed to be around 5 hours. We are breaking up the drive from Volcanoes park to Nyungwe by spending a night at Lake Kivu which is roughly midway.
2. The actual gorilla treks- did you encounter a lot of mud, the kind that you sink into. We are going at the tail end of the rainy season so muddy conditions are expected. Is it worth carrying lightweight hiking poles out are the sticks they give you sufficient? I was told gators are essential and that the lodges generally supply them. Did you carry your own? Choosing ( or getting assigned) the gorilla families for our two treks is I guess important. I was thinking one easy and one medium difficulty but based on your experience the medium difficulty one appeared to have been the better experience but that was also due to the fellow trekkers, something obviously luck of the draw. Where did you stay in Volcanoes?
3. Camera question on the gorilla trek. I am thinking of a full frame with a fast 70-200 ( 2.8) lens in the event the gorillas are in deep foliage and itís overcast. Videos on iPhone. In the event the gorillas are too close for a 70 mm lens I will just use the phone. Messing around with changing lens during the all too brief one hour is presumably not a great idea. As is carrying more than one body.
4. How tiring was the chimp trek at Nyungwe. You appeared to have good luck with quickly spotting them but I have heard sometimes one has to move really quickly to keep up and it can be quite challenging.
5. How did you like Akagera? Looking at your pictures you did appear to have had good sightings. Iím looking forward to seeing the transplanted rhinos. We are staying in the northern part of the camp at Magashi camp and I know Wilderness Safaris has great guides and vehicles. Having read up on Akagera and what it went through post-genocide, obviously not expecting Mara, Serengeti, Okavango type predator and herd densities; however Iím told unlike those places Akagera, especially in the north, is almost free of other vehicles and game drives are generally a very private experience. Understand Akagera has no cheetahs or wild dogs today but itís possible to see Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, leopards, Cape buffalo, giraffe, hippos and lots of other ungulates. So it is today a proper safari destination in itself, albeit within the confines of a relatively small park, given the excellent work that Africa Parks has done in restoring it from near ruin less than 20 years ago. Would be interested in your perspective.
6. We are spending our last day in Rwanda in Kigali when we will do the genocide museum and other sights. Anything you saw in particular that you recommend? We are staying at Heavens boutique so judging by what you said the food will be really good! Total of three nights. With two of them just overnight stops when we arrive and then between Nyungwe and Akagera with the last one a full day before departing.
7. I think you and I ( hopefully) are the rare safari enthusiastís who have elected to an all Rwanda trip. Very few people visit Nyungwe and Akagera opting instead to add on Rwanda to a safari holiday exclusively to see Gorillas. I wanted to both support Rwanda and avoid the logistical headaches of adding another destination although have to say the pricing of Gorilla and even chimp permits is a bit of a turn off given Uganda next door is so much less. However after researching the fact that the bulk of the permit fees goes back to supporting the gorillas ( and hopefully the chimps) makes it more palatable.

Hope you donít mind all the questions. Thanks again.

Last edited by AKR1; Nov 27th, 2022 at 02:18 PM.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by AKR1 View Post
Thanks Amy.
I am a reasonable photographer with some experience so yes practicing is important but I wanted more to know specific advice on necessity of a full frame camera and fast lens in what I understand can be challenging photographic conditions shooting gorillas and chimps. The trade off is heavier equipment.
I used a Sony RX10 iii, which is a bridge camera that I learned how to shoot manually with. It is not full frame and does not have detachable lenses. It has a Zeiss zoom 24-600mm1 (25x) F2.4-4.0 lens. I posted a TR on here a couple years ago with all the photos from my gorilla trek if you want to see the photos. I donít think you need professional equipment, you just really need to know how to use what you bring, be prepared for all light settings and moving animals.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by amyb View Post
I used a Sony RX10 iii, which is a bridge camera that I learned how to shoot manually with. It is not full frame and does not have detachable lenses. It has a Zeiss zoom 24-600mm1 (25x) F2.4-4.0 lens. I posted a TR on here a couple years ago with all the photos from my gorilla trek if you want to see the photos. I donít think you need professional equipment, you just really need to know how to use what you bring, be prepared for all light settings and moving animals.
Thanks. I also have an Rx- 10 IV and a full frame camera. Find the tiny sensor in the RX can result in very high ISOs in low light/ fast aperture conditions but itís unbeatable as a simple bridge camera with such a massive range. Will be bringing both.

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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 06:41 AM
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My camera is a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. It's like an upgrade from a P&S. I spent quite a lot of time practicing with it in the local woods but even they were not as shady as the strong foliage in Rwanda.

Gaiters/mud- We did not bring/have and our hotel didn't have them, either (most of the much nicer ones seem to have them but ours was a more budget oriented stay). We were in Tiloreza Volcanoes Ecolodge--it wasn't great. I wouldn't stay there again. Anyway, so we didn't have gaiters--what we did were have rain pants to go over our regular hiking pants and that was protective for us against the stinging nettles. Gaiters may be essential when it is wetter because the mud is really strong, as amyb said. We only had one muddy hike, which was the Fossey hike and the mud was a doozy. I actually can't imagine trying to do the gorilla hiking in that kind of mud. So gaiters would probably be beneficial in that scenario to keep mud from coming up over your boots. The sticks they provided were superior to hiking poles. Our friend uses poles usually but kept them in her pack and opted for the provided stick instead. There's just too much slipping and sliding and grasping to make the poles work well, IME.

Driving times--longer than stated! There aren't highways so everything is a two-lane winding road. In a good number of places where you are driving, it's highly populated. We were astounded to see people walking/biking between towns all the time with very few breaks. We thought there would be more rural and unpopulated areas but that was not the case. So the driving is extremely slow. We made the same "halfway" stop in Lake Kivu. It really is a stop just to break up the driving as Lake Kivu didn't have much to recommend itself to us (though it is highly popular as a local vacation destination). Are you driving yourselves?

Akagera was wonderful and we loved it. I am glad you have done your research--it's not comparable to the Masai Mara, Ngorongoro, or Serengeti in Kenya/Tanzania. We were in Tanzania in 2005 and Rwanda is lovely but not similar. We had quite good sightings----lots and lots and lots of hippos on our boat safari afternoon. We did not see rhinos (which we didn't expect to see so no disappointment from us). Some people we met on our gorilla track were self driving their whole trip. They spent a lot of time in Akagera--maybe three full days---and they camped there and they saw the rhinos and some small animals and mammals that are not usually on safari radar like a tortoise, mongoose, monitor lizard.

Chimps - This is steep hiking and lots of bushwhacking. That said, we had a couple in our group that never ever hike and they did fine. The key is that all the guides, trackers, and porters are absolutely experts at their jobs. They want you to have a wonderful experience (tips!) and so they help you get through thick foliage, make sure you get to good viewing spots, and are simply superlative at what they do. If there are chimps to be seen, they will make sure you see them. As amyb said, use the porters--they want the work, and then you can just worry about getting yourself around in the forest.

One more word about altitude sickness--I have had it on other trips in life and it's miserable but the mistake the person who was ill on our track made was that she refused water once her stomach was upset. Totally understandable because who likes to vomit? But water and reducing altitude is the only thing that will help with that so you have to just try to consume water. If you are worried, I would give the regular advice to avoid AS: no alcohol the night before, at least 1L of water when you wake up in the morning and then bring plenty of water and sip as much as you can while you hike. We keep hydration salts in our emergency pack but, foolishly, did not bring that gear on the first hike (we assumed the guides would have it but actually it never made an appearance). And all that said, I suspect AS is very rare on these hikes. Most of them stay below the level where you would experience it. If you feel at all susceptible, just let them know when they are assigning your gorilla family group and they can probably make sure you say lower.

I liked supporting Rwandan tourism. It's a remarkable country and the progress they have made since 1994 is incredible. I highly recommend that you read a bio on Dian Fossey (or watch Gorillas in the Mist) before your trip. I felt ambivalent about her based on the research we did ahead of time and remain with that feeling. But she's beloved in Rwanda (for good reason) and so the image you will get when you are visiting is considerably more benign than the reality was.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by schlegal1 View Post
My camera is a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. It's like an upgrade from a P&S. I spent quite a lot of time practicing with it in the local woods but even they were not as shady as the strong foliage in Rwanda.

Gaiters/mud- We did not bring/have and our hotel didn't have them, either (most of the much nicer ones seem to have them but ours was a more budget oriented stay). We were in Tiloreza Volcanoes Ecolodge--it wasn't great. I wouldn't stay there again. Anyway, so we didn't have gaiters--what we did were have rain pants to go over our regular hiking pants and that was protective for us against the stinging nettles. Gaiters may be essential when it is wetter because the mud is really strong, as amyb said. We only had one muddy hike, which was the Fossey hike and the mud was a doozy. I actually can't imagine trying to do the gorilla hiking in that kind of mud. So gaiters would probably be beneficial in that scenario to keep mud from coming up over your boots. The sticks they provided were superior to hiking poles. Our friend uses poles usually but kept them in her pack and opted for the provided stick instead. There's just too much slipping and sliding and grasping to make the poles work well, IME.

Driving times--longer than stated! There aren't highways so everything is a two-lane winding road. In a good number of places where you are driving, it's highly populated. We were astounded to see people walking/biking between towns all the time with very few breaks. We thought there would be more rural and unpopulated areas but that was not the case. So the driving is extremely slow. We made the same "halfway" stop in Lake Kivu. It really is a stop just to break up the driving as Lake Kivu didn't have much to recommend itself to us (though it is highly popular as a local vacation destination). Are you driving yourselves?

Akagera was wonderful and we loved it. I am glad you have done your research--it's not comparable to the Masai Mara, Ngorongoro, or Serengeti in Kenya/Tanzania. We were in Tanzania in 2005 and Rwanda is lovely but not similar. We had quite good sightings----lots and lots and lots of hippos on our boat safari afternoon. We did not see rhinos (which we didn't expect to see so no disappointment from us). Some people we met on our gorilla track were self driving their whole trip. They spent a lot of time in Akagera--maybe three full days---and they camped there and they saw the rhinos and some small animals and mammals that are not usually on safari radar like a tortoise, mongoose, monitor lizard.

Chimps - This is steep hiking and lots of bushwhacking. That said, we had a couple in our group that never ever hike and they did fine. The key is that all the guides, trackers, and porters are absolutely experts at their jobs. They want you to have a wonderful experience (tips!) and so they help you get through thick foliage, make sure you get to good viewing spots, and are simply superlative at what they do. If there are chimps to be seen, they will make sure you see them. As amyb said, use the porters--they want the work, and then you can just worry about getting yourself around in the forest.

One more word about altitude sickness--I have had it on other trips in life and it's miserable but the mistake the person who was ill on our track made was that she refused water once her stomach was upset. Totally understandable because who likes to vomit? But water and reducing altitude is the only thing that will help with that so you have to just try to consume water. If you are worried, I would give the regular advice to avoid AS: no alcohol the night before, at least 1L of water when you wake up in the morning and then bring plenty of water and sip as much as you can while you hike. We keep hydration salts in our emergency pack but, foolishly, did not bring that gear on the first hike (we assumed the guides would have it but actually it never made an appearance). And all that said, I suspect AS is very rare on these hikes. Most of them stay below the level where you would experience it. If you feel at all susceptible, just let them know when they are assigning your gorilla family group and they can probably make sure you say lower.

I liked supporting Rwandan tourism. It's a remarkable country and the progress they have made since 1994 is incredible. I highly recommend that you read a bio on Dian Fossey (or watch Gorillas in the Mist) before your trip. I felt ambivalent about her based on the research we did ahead of time and remain with that feeling. But she's beloved in Rwanda (for good reason) and so the image you will get when you are visiting is considerably more benign than the reality was.
Thanks much! Very helpful information/ advice.
To answer your question we will have a car and driver/ guide for the trip.
Am getting more familiar with Diane Fossey and have seen the movie. We have got the following reading that we are slowly ploughing through:

1. No one loved Gorillas more: Diane Fossey letters from the mist ( beautiful pictures and copies of Fosseys actual letters to her family)
2. In the kingdom of the Gorillas: fragile species in a dangerous land. Bill Webber & Amy Vedder. ( excellent although somewhat academic account of their years in the Virungas)
3. A forest in the Clouds: my year among the Mountain Gorillas in the remote enclave of Dr. Diane Fossey. ( darker account of Fossey in her later years but wide eyed deep dive into a pristine region).
4. Rwanda: Brandt Guide 7th Ed.( most helpful guidebook, albeit a bit dated from 2018).

Last edited by AKR1; Nov 28th, 2022 at 02:07 PM.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 05:35 AM
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Beyond anything primate related, I highly recommend spending at least a day seeing the sights in Kigali, and making sure to watch or read Hotel Rwanda before you go. That the genocide happened so recently and the Rwandans show such capacity for forgiveness for the sake of their countryís future is absolutely extraordinary.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 06:09 AM
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https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/rwa...022-07-17/#app
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 01:51 PM
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It's a truly remarkable story and one that warms the heart. As noted in the article, they plan to expand Volcanoes park. We had a conservationist in our Fossey hike group who specialized in addressing the human/nature clash that comes with conservation. She pressed the guide pretty hard about displacing people in order to expand Volcanoes and he was steadfast that "People can move, and the government will pay them to, gorillas cannot move." The money from the tourism industry directly helps both the people and gorillas in that situation.

If you want to feel more downhearted, "Virunga" on Netflix is a well told true tale of greed, corruption, and conservation failure in Uganda counterpoised with bravery and love from gorilla rangers there. It's a real contrast with Rwanda's success story.

https://www.netflix.com/title/80009431

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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by schlegal1 View Post
It's a truly remarkable story and one that warms the heart. As noted in the article, they plan to expand Volcanoes park. We had a conservationist in our Fossey hike group who specialized in addressing the human/nature clash that comes with conservation. She pressed the guide pretty hard about displacing people in order to expand Volcanoes and he was steadfast that "People can move, and the government will pay them to, gorillas cannot move." The money from the tourism industry directly helps both the people and gorillas in that situation.

If you want to feel more downhearted, "Virunga" on Netflix is a well told true tale of greed, corruption, and conservation failure in Uganda counterpoised with bravery and love from gorilla rangers there. It's a real contrast with Rwanda's success story.

https://www.netflix.com/title/80009431
I had seen this a few years ago- itís about the DRC not Uganda as I recall. The park itself is in the DRC and has been through significant conflict and as you said greed and bravery. Emmanuel de Merode, the legendary director of the park and arguably the one person who has done more for Virunga and its Gorillas than anyone - if interested you can Google him and learn more about his work.

Guns, Guns, Gorillas and Netflix: A Belgian Prince in Congo
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/22/s...eShareGorillas and Netflix: A Belgian Prince in Congo

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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by AKR1 View Post
I had seen this a few years ago- itís about the DRC not Uganda as I recall. The park itself is in the DRC and has been through significant conflict and as you said greed and bravery. Emmanuel de Merode, the legendary director of the park and arguably the one person who has done more for Virunga and its Gorillas than anyone - if interested you can Google him and learn more about his work.

Guns, Guns, Gorillas and Netflix: A Belgian Prince in Congo
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/22/s...eShareGorillas and Netflix: A Belgian Prince in Congo
Ah, yes yes yes, thanks for the correction--DRC!
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 10:14 AM
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A bit off topic as this is on Virunga and the Gorilla families there- most much less habituated to humans than in VNP Rwanda. But some incredible footage and a poignant reminder of the challenges for the game wardens in the DRC in the face of rampant poaching and rebel activities.

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Old Jan 8th, 2023, 09:53 AM
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I am late to the party but came upon your wonderful trip report . I am going again next month. I have hiked Rwanda once before in 2017 and Uganda twice, once in [email protected] and again in 2019. Can’t get enough it seems
we will be asking for an easy hike again, I have lots of mobility issues but still do easy hikes. We saw Agashya group and will possibly see again as they are usually the lowest it seems. Uganda treks were both very tough for me which is why we paid the huge price to do Rwanda but feel better about the money going to local community rather than just in some big corporations pocket
I had never considered that the others on the trek could be so awful, I have always had such great luck with both gorilla hikes and safari. I am a bit nervous about that now. Glad you had two hikes.
I remember looking around to see the very diverse group of hikers and what they were wearing, a number of young girls in yoga pants and sandels. And then others, mostly older, looking like they just stepped out of an LL Bean catalogue with their brand new gear
We will also do the golden monkeys the day after, which I have not done before, so glad you say it was easy. We did chimps in Uganda and it was a tough trail
we will also go to the Ellen Degeneres gorilla centre after our gorilla hike if we can.
I am distressed to hear you did not like Tiloreza as well. Should I see if we can switch? My friend wanted a pool which is why we chose it , the tour operator said it was deluxe
thanks for your wonderful report. I am getting very excited now.
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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 06:16 AM
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If you chose deluxe at Tiloreza you will likely be fine. They have various grades of rooms and we were in the cheapest. We could see the deluxe rooms and they looked lovely!

Our rooms had cream/beige carpeting that was quite stained and unsightly and there was little furniture so there was very little space to unpack into. All our room had was a table with an electric kettle on it and some shelves below. There was also a sort of clothing rack style "hanger" on the wall but only one hanger on it. There were nightstands that each had one small drawer. I can't remember if there was air conditioning but I think there was not because we really liked being able to have windows open but we kept getting a cigarette smell coming in around 5 PM each evening. It was strong and filled the room. We had no idea where it was coming from as we never saw anyone smoking. It's possible/likely it was someone smoking on an adjacent property.

If you are going there just for the pool....I would possibly reconsider. The pool looked green, the water low, and not well-tended when we were there. I actually commented on how bad it looked to my traveling companions. But it also wasn't warm enough to swim (it wasn't hot) so maybe if there are warmer/hotter times of year the pool is in better condition.
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