What’s new in the lands of East Africa’s primates?
We’re calling it now: 2018 is going to be a great year for primate safaris. From new luxury lodges to gorilla habituation safaris, guests will be treated to incredible design, thoughtful collaborations with local communities, and memorable money-can’t-buy wildlife experiences. Read on for our top picks of the exciting, new primate safaris.
Nyungwe House, Rwanda
Following its success in the Maldives, Mauritius and Cape Town, One&Only is set to open its first lodge in the African bush, with the opening of Nyungwe House in Rwanda. Twenty three luxury rooms look out on lush forest to one side and tea plantations to the other. They’re perfectly placed for chimp tracking in the neighbouring national park, or enjoying a bike ride on the tracks through the beautiful countryside nearby.
Nyungwe has traditionally played second fiddle to the more famous gorilla parks in the north but is one of the world’s top places to spot primates, with 13 species resident. The bird life is fabulous too with the great blue turaco probably the most spectacular among some 300 recorded here. It’s definitely one to add to a Rwanda safari itinerary.
One&Only isn’t the only operator to be investing in Rwanda. In addition to its luxurious Bisate Lodge which opened in 2017, Wilderness Safaris’ second property in the country is Magashi Camp, due to open in March next year.
Magashi Camp, Rwanda
In eastern Rwanda, Akagera National Park’s scenic open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamp and mountains are home to some of Africa’s highest hippo densities, some very large crocodile and the inscrutable shoebill. There’s a healthy lion population and black rhino were reintroduced in 2017.
With these three, Rwanda is set to have a ‘circuit’ of well-run lodges and camps allowing people to stay longer and explore more of the country. In fact, visitors travelling between November and May can get a 30% discount (US$1,050) on gorilla permits in Volcanoes National Park if also staying in Akagera or Nyungwe for three days or more.
Gorilla habituation safaris, Uganda
Moving to Uganda, and not new but something not widely publicised is the chance to participate in the gorilla habituation programme in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Gorilla habituation is used to acclimatise wild gorillas to the sight of people. It involves different groups of people, including trackers, conservationists, researchers and rangers approaching the gorillas and spending time with them. It takes two to three years to complete.
The gorilla habituation experience in Uganda allows a small number of visitors to join the trackers and researchers and to spend much more time with mountain gorillas than on a normal gorilla track. Only one of the 17 groups of gorillas is available for a habituation experience, limiting visitors to just four per day rather than the eight usually permitted.
We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions about visiting gorillas or other primate safaris. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from gorillas and chimpanzees to lemurs and other primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.