Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Posted by Kathy Kachele on 18th Mar 2022

The following account was written by volunteer Kathy, who joined The Great Gorilla Project with her husband Drew in January this year:

We just had the best trip on The Great Gorilla Project (January 17-30, 2022). We chose this itinerary - firstly because we liked having two chances to see gorillas, and secondly we wanted more experiences with real Ugandan people in their community.

Our reservations were in jeopardy up till the very end due to the omicron variant popping up two months prior to departure. We crossed our fingers it would happen... and it did! Nothing was more welcome than arriving at midnight at the Entebbe airport and seeing a man outside holding a sign with our name.

Gorilla Family

From then on, everything went smoothly (at least as far as our group of 4 knew. The group being us two old geezers (ages 68 and 77) and two young ladies from UK and Ireland). Our only concern after arriving was if the gorilla trek was going to be as hard as we had heard. And yes, it was a workout... for all 4 of us. But, we did it, got great photos, and that’s all that matters. It would have been easier if we were 20 years younger, but it is what it is. Honestly, our porters were lifesavers - our packs were small, and we could have carried them, but it was nice not to, and it was the taking of our hands and giving us a needed pull now and then up the extra steep spots that were SO HELPFUL. Our hiring porters support them and their families, so it’s good for everyone. And seeing the gorilla families up close, watching them watch us, especially when the silverback fake-charged us... what a thrill!

Silverback Gorilla

The trips to the local schools were great fun. Driving in and seeing over 800 excited kids run up to greet us is something I’ll never forget. That and how well behaved they were.

School Kids

Visiting classrooms with no electricity, no running water, or plumbing was hard to imagine. Hiking with several deaf students and a blind boy, watching the headmaster speak in sign language, all this made for a memorable experience few tourists ever get on a regular safari.

Uganda Classroom

Sheba, our local host from the Mahinga Community, was awesome. Playing drums and dancing in the evening with him and the lodge staff was a true highlight of our stay in Kisoro, it made for crazy dance videos to send home for the family to make fun of.

Drum Night

All our lodgings were comfortable with lots of variety, great food, and wonderful service. I was happy to have two safari tent stays (Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth) - another feature I had looked for in a tour. With many nights at the Golden Monkey in Kisoro, the staff felt like family by the time we left.

Safari Tented Accommodation

We lucked out with good weather - little rain, mild and not hot temperatures, and no bugs. Note that some things we counted on paying by credit card (extra hotel days, Covid test, etc.) instead required cash. Those charges, plus tips (fairly significant - not because of paying a lot, but because of a lot of people to pay: each trek had 7-8 people), required we take about 2-3 trips to the ATM. The unexpected non-visa payments, plus miscellaneous purchases (we wanted to buy school supplies to donate, which included a unique trip to the Kisoro store), a voluntary donation to the Potter’s Nursery, plus the various tips added up to a significant amount... But, don’t get me wrong - it was all totally worth it! Just something to be prepared for.

Gorilla Trackers and Protectors

This was a fabulous trip! Thanks to Michael from The Great Projects for holding my hand and answering all my questions, our two travel friends who made the trip so very, very enjoyable, Sheba and Festus for showing us their invaluable community projects, and Peter and Dennis for safe driving and making this trip HAPPEN in such a GREAT WAY!!

Baby Gorilla

We look forward to taking another trip with The Great Projects in the future!

Thanks to Kathy for her review and lovely photos, head over to the project page: The Great Gorilla Project to find out more.


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