I'll be completely honest for anyone suspicious of booking expensive tours over the internet. Read to the end. Because I have been scammed and robbed and scammed before (in South... read more Africa and Europe), I was a little suspicious when I submitted my inquiry on the Gorilla Holidays website to find out more about gorilla trekking for my family of 5. I didn't know if it was a fake website designed to steal people's money, which is not uncommon.
However, within 24 hours, I received a very well-written, detailed response from Mark. He sent a draft 3-day itinerary to me, and it looked great! We requested a few revisions (pickup in Kampala and dropoff in Kigali) and Mark got back to us in 24 hours. We read Tripadvisor reviews and searched the internet for any negative reports about the company, but everything came back positive.
So we decided to book. We sent our payment and passport info to Mark, and crossed our fingers that everything was legitimate. About 10 days before our tour, I hadn't heard anything from Mark about when we were going to be picked up, and he hadn't asked for any more details from us. So I got a little nervous. I emailed him, again, he replied within a day. 2 days before our trip, I hadn't heard anything from him, so I reached out for his WhatsApp info to coordinate on the day of our trip. Again, he replied.
The night before our trip, we received a message from Charles, our driver and guide. He picked us up the next morning in Kampala and drove us to Bwindi. He was an absolute delight! He informed us about the history of Uganda, and several important, interesting facts about the country. Charles is a gift and is the one who made the whole trip flow so well for us. He is the glue that tied together all the important parts. He was our common denominator, and, by the end of our trip, became our friend.
The drive was long but quite educational. We stopped at the Equator for a family picture and ate a little snack at a local spot. We drove a few more hours and stopped for lunch at a nice little restaurant. Then, after a couple more hours, we stopped at a local village to meet some locals and eat pineapples. They both were great!
Then we drove to our lodge, which was good for our family. The staff there (Elizabeth, Powerman, and the whole team) was a pure delight.
Then there was the trekking. It was ONE OF THE BEST EXPERIENCES OF OUR LIVES! We woke up early, went to the morning orientation, and then trekked gorillas all morning. We saw a family of 20 gorillas and were able to get up close to them. The babies were wrestling and playing with one another, and the silverback was watching to make sure everyone in his family was okay.
We followed them for 3 hours, and saw them climb trees, and eat, and relax. We were literally about 10 feet from a huge silverback.
Our guide, Luke, and trekkers, Roland and Michael, and our porters, Brian and Yusamu, were so amazing! The guides let us to the trekkers, and the trekkers led us to the gorillas, and the porters helped my two younger children the whole way. They were a Godsend,, helping my family every step of the way in such a caring, personable way.
After the trek, we went back to the lodge to freshen up, and then talked about our unforgettable day over dinner.
The last day, Charles drove us to the border of Rwanda, and helped us cross over to Rwanda where our next driver, Steven, met us, and drove us to Kigali.
I am still in awe over how wonderful this trip was.
If you are on the fence about booking, take my word for it, this company is legitimate and their operation is a well-oiled machine. They know how to take care of their guests, and our family hopes to return with more family and friends so that they, too, can experience this one-of-a-kind phenomenal experience.