Agent Hope Smith just returned from gorilla trekking in Africa. // © 2018 Hope Smith
Feature Image (above): Gorillas are majestic creatures. // © 2018 Getty Images
This February, I went gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda with Volcanoes Safaris. I had gone to Rwanda in 1981, and it’s a very different experience now. For one thing, a gorilla permit in Rwanda is now around $1,500, and it was about $150 back then. For clients who can’t afford that, the permits in Uganda are about $600.
Rwanda has become a lot more upscale. I visited Bisate Lodge, by Wilderness Safaris, which is brand-new and runs about $1,300 a night. Several more luxury lodges are currently being built there, too. I loved traveling with Volcanos Safaris, which has been in the area forever.
I don’t really try to sell this kind of trip — people come to me with the desire to do it. My best tip is to tell clients to plan ahead because permits are limited, and they go quickly.
In both Rwanda and Uganda, the experience is incredible. After almost four hours of trekking uphill, we finally found a group of gorillas. Even if you try to stay away, if they are curious they will come check you out. In Uganda, I had a huge silverback come right in front of me. It’s really moving and beautiful — you feel excited like a little kid again. It definitely touches the soul. That’s the beauty of it.