The Pearl of Africa: A Life-Changing Adventure


By Elise Seymour

It’s easy to see why Uganda has become a hot-spot destination with celebrities such as Ryan Gosling, Ben Stiller, Kim Kardashian & Kanye West.

A landlocked country in East Africa, it’s bordered to the east by Kenya, to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the south, by Tanzania, and to the southwest by Rwanda.

Uganda is home to 10 national parks, with open savannahs, dense tropical forests, sparkling crater lakes, intricately terraced hillsides and rugged mountains. Wildlife abounds, including of course, the country’s most famous inhabitant – the endangered mountain gorilla.

Trekking to view the rare and unforgettable mountain gorilla in the remote forests of southwestern Uganda is the country’s foremost tourist attraction and one of the world’s most remarkable wildlife encounters.

While some tourists focus on the Big five (lions, leopard, elephant, cape buffalo and black rhino), we promise that seeing  the gentle giants of Bwindi up close is a captivating and unforgettable privilege.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a serene ancient forest in Uganda’s mist-covered mountains and home to half the world’s mountain gorilla population. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park has as impressive biodiversity, making the difficult 3,315 foot hike worthwhile.

Our pursuit takes us to the Rushaga area where there are only nine mountain gorilla families. Visits are limited to only eight tourists per group, per day for the ultimate gorilla experience. The family we found ourselves just a few feet away from unusually had not one, but two Silverback gorillas.

Steps away from the entrance to Bwindi, our home base is Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge. The handsome hideaway is Uganda’s highest lodge with breath snatching views and friendly, attentive staff who intuitively anticipate needs you don’t even know you have.

At the end of the day, we returned back to your villa (of course ours was named after our favourite Disney monkey, Rafiki) from a fantastic meal to find a roaring fireplace and hot water bottle in a cozy waiting bed, set up by your personal butler.

Clouds is a key contributor to the local community, supporting nearby villages by providing a portion of its nightly rates to help fund development projects.

On the way back through Entebbe, we also stayed at No. 5 Boutique Hotel, which made for a tranquil setting to unwind, sneak in a massage, take a dip in the pool, and enjoy a delicious meal and restful sleep before the long journey home.

Getting there…

While Uganda may seem like a world away, our voyage was made pleasurable with Brussels Airlines’ business-class facilities. Cabins are comfortable and spacious, and made even better by indulgent menus that include foie gras, a generous collection of fine wine and liquors and a box of our favourite Neuhaus Belgian chocolates as a nightcap. The ideal set up for a good night’s sleep and waking up refreshed and ready for adventure. Getting away from it all has never been more rewarding.

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