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See allTen Amazing Adventures Under $1,000 (2009 Edition)

by , SmarterTravel Staff - April 13, 2009
Rwanda - Gorilla Baby

Gorilla Trekking and Culture Tours in Rwanda

Provider: Amahoro Tours
Length: Four days
Price: $1,000

Imagine coming face-to-face with wild gorillas—no fences, no glass, no zoo keepers—just a few feet of leafy vegetation separating you and the majestic primates. There's no need for alarm: You're a guest in their home, the Virunga Mountains in northern Rwanda, and as long you mind your manners, you're welcome to stay for awhile.

It feels a bit like attending a family reunion, except the relatives are bigger and hairier. Mothers cradle infants while toddlers bounce on their father's stomach and aunts and uncles and cousins mill about, nibbling on wild vegetables. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and well worth the trip to this tiny country that's made remarkable progress toward becoming one of Africa's safest and most fascinating destinations.

Gorilla trekking is the country's biggest tourist draw by far, but you should take an extra few days for further exploration. Ruhengeri-based Amahoro Tours can arrange packages that mix gorilla trekking with village tours or sight-seeing in the capital city of Kigali. On one of the company's four-day trips, you can go gorilla trekking, meet with genocide survivors who now make their living weaving colorful baskets, learn traditional banana beer brewing techniques, and visit an orphanage. Your trip ends with a Kigali city tour, including stops at the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, the city center and Muslim quarters, and a craft market.

This tour can be arranged at any time. Rates include airport transfers and all ground transportation, accommodations, gorilla trekking and the required $500 permit, village activities and sightseeing, and guides. Meals and airfare to Kigali are extra.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Andy Diamond)

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