Bwindi National Park is the premier destination for mountain gorilla tracking in Uganda. The park is home to over half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas and draws in thousands of visitors to the area.
Those planning a visit to this area have lots of accommodation options. Every sector of the park has lodging options ranging from basic camping to 5-star full board luxury stays.
During our visit, we decided to opt for one of the more sustainable options in the area and stayed at a Ugandan owned and managed Gorilla Safari Lodge.
Gorilla Safari Lodge is owned by a Ugandan family and is run as a family business. It is managed by the wonderful Joan, who did everything in her power to make sure we had the most wonderful stay!
Gorilla Safari Lodge is one of the oldest lodges in the area and thus boasts a convenient location in the Rushaga sector, within walking distance to the entrance to the park. It was great not to have to get into our safari vehicle and to be able to get to the park on foot.
The lodge itself is not too big and most guests congregate in the common area which encompasses a restaurant, bar, and lounge area. It’s a great place to meet fellow travelers and during our stay, the area was buzzing with daily gorilla tracking stories. It was fascinating to hear how different everyone’s gorilla experience was and great to hear what other adventures others got up to during their stay.
The lodge is run on solar power, so the common area is also the only place in the hotel where you can connect to the internet and recharge your electronics. Be prepared that internet in this area isn’t great, it’s slow and limited (vouchers in 100MB denominations were available at the bar), and there is no power or internet connection in the rooms.
The rooms at the Gorilla Safari Lodge are perfectly outfitted for the surrounding. Each room featured African decor and was equipped with a double bed, solar-powered lighting, en-suite bathroom with hot and cold water, and flush toilets.
The veranda porch has a comfy seating area and offers views of the rainforest.
Rates at the Gorilla Safari Lodge include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is fantastic value, given that even during the high season, the daily rate is just $200/per person.
Breakfast consisted of coffee/tea, juices, fruits, baked goodies, and eggs, made to order. Lunch and dinner were 3-course meals prepared to our liking. Lunch menu was usually presented just after breakfast and similarly, dinner options were available after lunch. There was usually a meat, fish and veggie option on offer. Most were international flavours with some Indian influences (typical in Uganda) and some African flavours.
The menus changed every day, which helped keep our meals exciting and new.
All meals were served in the restaurant and were arranged around our activity schedule. On the days when we were up early, breakfast was served at the crack of dawn, but when we wanted to sleep in, the staff were more than happy to serve us well past 9am.
Activities at the Gorilla Safari Lodge
The majority of travelers come to this region for a chance to track mountain gorillas. Gorilla Safari Lodge is ideally positioned in close proximity to one of the largest and most sought-after gorilla groups in Bwindi National Park. But there is so much more to do and see in this region aside from the gorillas.
We particularly enjoyed a visit to the Rushaga Community, where we got a chance to meet some of the Batwa people. Up until the end of the 20th century, Bwatwa people used to live in small caves inside the Bwindi National Park. They hunted for food and surviving only on what the forest had to offer. But in 1980s, when a Bwindi was declared a National Park, the government forced the Bwatwa people out of the forest, creating a small settlement for them outside of the park. Today, they rely on tourism for the majority of their income and welcome visitors from the lodges in the area on a daily tour of their community.
Bwindi National Park and Gorilla Safari lodge was the first stop on our Ugandan road trip itinerary and the hospitality of Joan and her staff really set the tone for the rest of our time in Uganda.
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Check out our video below for closer look at our time in Bwindi National Park
Disclaimer: Our stay at the Gorilla Safari Lodge was provided courtesy of Crystal Lodges Uganda, but as always all opinions expressed in this post are our own!