Children in the Wilderness is a non-profit organization supported by ecotourism company Wilderness Safaris, which aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of children in Africa
Children in the Wilderness increases children’s awareness, bridges cultural divides, broadens horizons, builds confidence, provides opportunities for new friendships, positive life choices, and reveals career opportunities
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is dedicated to the conservation, protection and study of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. Their successful, integrated approach includes close collaboration with local governments and communities as well as partners from around the world
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has more than 50 years of successful conservation work in saving gorillas based on a holistic model with four key parts: direct, daily protection of gorillas; scientific research on gorillas and their ecosystems; educating the next generation of scientists and conservationists in Africa; and helping local people with basic needs, so that communities can thrive and work together
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organization that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks currently manage 19 national parks and protected areas in 11 countries covering over 14.2 million hectares in: Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
The organization was founded in 2000 in response to the dramatic decline of protected areas due to poor management and lack of funding. African Parks utilizes a clear business approach to conserving Africa’s wildlife and remaining wild areas, securing vast landscapes and carrying out the necessary activities needed to protect the parks and their wildlife. African Parks maintains a strong focus on economic development and poverty alleviation of surrounding communities to ensure that each park is ecologically, socially, and financially sustainable in the long-term
Pack for a Purpose travelers have taken over 194,783 kgs (428,522 pounds) of supplies meeting essential needs in over 60 countries
Packed for a Purpose makes it possible to have a big impact in the communities you visit by simply using a small amount of space in your luggage to pack supplies needed by community projects around the world
The impact of Azizi Life goes beyond income generation for one artisan to benefit their entire family and other families in the community
Individual, family and community impact through fair wages is only one part of the Azizi Life vision. From the beginning, the dream of Azizi Life was to create a self-sustaining development model. The goal was to set up businesses that positively impact families and communities and are profitable enough to support larger community development projects.
Providing a home, hope and opportunities for Rwanda’s neediest children.
The Imizi Children’s Center is the foundation of the Rwandan Orphans Projects in Rwanda. The Imizi Children’s Center provides comprehensive residential care for up to 100 former street boys while providing completely free primary education to more than 100 children from the community’s poorest families.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi. It is an important place of remembrance and learning and receives visitors from all around the world.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial has a mission to advocate for survivors. As part of this objective, the Rebuilding Lives Initiative originates from the empathy shared with survivors, their association with the memorial and the hardships some of them endure. Rebuilding Lives supports those in need to achieve some improvement in their livelihoods.
The Gorilla Doctors began as the realization of a dream of American gorilla researcher Dian Fossey. Fossey dedicated her life to studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Gorilla Doctors is dedicated to the care of mountain gorillas, which can be distinguished from their close cousins by their thick hair and ability to live at high altitude. Mountain gorillas live in central Africa, where an estimated 604 animals live in the Virunga Massif, which spans Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DRC, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The other 459 mountain gorillas in the world live within the boundaries of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
We’re excited to see African countries safely reopening and welcoming international travelers back to their borders. With a careful understanding of new protocols and entry requirements, it may be a great time for some travelers to take advantage of a safari in the near-term over the next 3-9 months.
Some considerations for travel in the near term
- Uncrowded parks & nearly-exclusive wildlife viewing and trekking
- Great value especially during the green season
- Plenty of availability at preferred camps
- Guides and camp staff are eagerly awaiting guests
- Camps can pull out all the stops with upgrades and added value experiences
- Your presence safeguards wildlife and benefits community programs in the areas you visit
- Navigating flight and airport protocols is more onerous and uncertain
- Countries have implemented advanced health screenings and entry requirements
- Reduced options for multi-country itineraries
- Some camps and domestic flights have not yet resumed operations
- Travel insurance policies vary by provider and specific coverage and benefits can be unclear
The following countries have now opened their borders with responsible Covid protocols, and commercial international flights have resumed:
Kenya – Rwanda – Tanzania – Zambia
Tips for developing an itinerary in the coming months
- Single country itineraries are key
- Reduce interactions with other guests through:
- Less moving around in country
- Longer stays at fewer camps
- Private charters for transfers
- Families or groups of friends can take advantage of exclusive-use of camps, lodges and safari villas.
- Get familiar with the risks associated with air travel
- Review the specific health protocols at the camps. Some examples below.
The camps and communities in these destinations have done an incredible amount of work to sustain vital services in the absence of tourism and to prepare for the resumption of tourism through extensive staff training and implementation of stringent new protocols.
Here are some favorite achievements and messages from our colleagues who are keen to welcome guests back to their countries:
Epic 350km fundraising walk in the Luangwa Valley
Zambia Migration Safari in December 2020 is on!
Enhanced health protocols at safari camps and lodges:
Safaris are inherently a lower risk travel option as good quality safari experiences steer clear of crowds and offer intimate camps, small professional teams and wide open spaces. However, our colleagues have gone above and beyond to design and implement the highest health and safety protocols. Here’s a few examples:
Kili returned to Rwanda to find a country that has made tremendous progress toward its goal of being one of Africa’s leading countries and most dramatic stories of renewal. Rwanda has successfully positioned itself as a luxury destination with extraordinary wildlife and cultural experiences.
Aside from new luxury lodges near Volcanoes National Park, there are a lot experiences in Kigali and throughout the country that make Rwanda more than a gorilla extension.
Kigali is a unique among African capitals, and it is clear from the moment you leave the airport. The roads are clean and in good condition, and the city center is safe and vibrant enough to have a walk through town. It has become an international hub and a shining example of progress. Here are some interesting experiences we recommend:
The area around Musanze, the nearest town to the gorilla trekking headquarters in Volcanoes National Park, has seen the most development with a number of breath-taking new luxury lodges as well as some old favorites. In addition to being a base for gorilla trekking, there are a lot of other things to do like visiting the Gorilla Doctors facility, the Dian Fossey Center, the spectacular twin lakes, the Iby’wacu Cultural Village or just having a walk around the Musanze town and markets.
Akagera is a national park that is being successfully restored into a great conservation story, and we’re hearing excellent feedback from some of our first clients to visit the far northern corner of the park. Lions were re-introduced in 2015, and there has been excellent recent leopard sightings. This project is in collaboration with the Rwandan government and the surrounding local communities. You can learn more about this project here, and also on the African Parks website. If you’re up for visiting a unique area while also supporting groundbreaking conservation work, Akagera is at the top of our list!
In addition to soon-to-reopen Gorilla’s Nest Lodge in Musanze, One & Only Resorts has introduced Nyungwe House in the south western corner of Rwanda, a spectacular option for including chimpanzee trekking in your Rwanda itinerary. Plus, they’re offering scenic helicopter transfers between Nyungwe and Volcanoes for an unbelievable bird’s eye view of Rwanda’s incredible topography.
Some of Kili’s Gorilla Trekking Photos
A wise colleague of ours says, “Rwanda has ambitions to be the best in the world, and it’s making quick progress. Uganda, on the other hand, is content with being The Pearl of Africa.“
While these two countries have certain similarities, what they offer travelers is very different.
- Good guiding makes all the difference.
- A camping safari is a 24-hour experience.
- Tracking gorillas shouldn’t be intimidating
For their first safari back in 2011, we focused Mike & Sheila’s itinerary on a mobile camping safari in Botswana. It was a great fit. For this year’s trip we turned to East Africa, splitting their time between northern Tanzania, with camping and walking in the Serengeti, and tracking gorillas in Rwanda.
Rwanda is so many things, and my time there was magical. Here’s the first video from my visit, starting with the gorilla tracking experience. I did two treks: first to the Susa group, and then to the Hirwa group.
The Susa trek was nearly a two hour climb into the misty highland. It is the largest tourist-accessible group with multiple silverbacks, some young babies and a rare set of twins, and it is one of the original groups studied by Diane Fossey. The hike was exhausting and my legs were shaky with fatigue, but it was so rewarding to spend an hour observing the young gorillas tumbling around.