The Gorilla Safari Lodge, Uganda
In the glorious country of Uganda – just a five-hour plane journey from the UAE and a rather rickety car ride through the outback – lies Bwindi, arguably one of the most magical rainforests one could ever have the privilege of wandering through. It’s home to just a handful of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla families – now almost extinct – and allows for forest views so spectacular it’s almost unfathomable that the vast Middle Eastern desert is merely a short few hours away.
What’s more mysterious is that 2,660 metres up, where only one mud track road penetrates, luxury lives on. The Gorilla Safari Lodge sits on the cusp of Bwindi forest and is the perfect spot for those embarking on Uganda’s once-in-a-lifetime gorilla-trekking experience, without having to relinquish home comforts. A handful of private villas, inclusive of marshmallow-soft beds and oversized bath-tubs, frame the outskirts of the rainforest. Think sunrises fuelled by the eerie forest mist fighting against the bright African daylight, and sunsets soothingly accompanied by the relaxing scents and sounds of nature. The Gorilla Safari Lodge is at once majestically beautiful, raw and unpretentious. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are enjoyed at the lodge’s intimate dining area, where three courses are almost compulsory. Sumptuously soft bread is cooked on site and fresh fish is likely to have come straight from Lake Victoria (which also happens to be the world’s second-largest fresh water lake and a perfectly Instagrammable opportunity on the drive up). The altitude means warm days and very, very chilly nights, offering the ideal moment to don Chanel biker boots and Loro Piana cashmere knits and scarves. Cosy camp fires are littered around the lodge and encourage late nights and long conversations.
A few days respite at The Gorilla Safari Lodge must be entwined with a few, unforgettable moments of adventure. Begin with a two-hour walk through the rainforest – where elephant crossings are likely – towards a serene yet ferocious waterfall that gushes through the flora.
Then, of course, there’s gorilla trekking – lengthy and arduous at times, but a ‘pinch-me’ experience that you’ll hold onto for a lifetime. The rainforest is thick and wet, and terrain is often slippery and lacking a clear pathway, but local trackers guide guests through the forest in search of constantly moving families of wild gorillas. Walks can take between two and eight hours, depending on how energetic the gorillas are on the day, but once located, the scene that unfurls is straight out of a storybook. Baby gorillas swing from branch to branch while protective mothers rip foliage from overgrown trees. The males – distinguishable by their size and silver-backs – are territorial and roam across their land with an innate grandiosity. Selfies are taken at your own risk…
A day of trekking calls for an hour or two enjoying The Gorilla Safari Lodge’s demure spa before indulging in dinner and taking in Uganda’s wildly green and breath-taking views, one last time.
Find The Gorilla Safari Lodge in Bwindi, Uganda. Prices start from Dhs1,375 per night and Dhs2,330 for gorilla trekking. Call +27 21 712 5284