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See allOur Favorite Places of 2008

by , SmarterTravel Staff - December 23, 2008
Rwanda - Mountain Gorilla Family

Rwanda

Senior Editor Molly Feltner was pleasantly surprised by a last-minute addition to her trip to Africa. "In October I traveled to Rwanda in the Great Lakes region of East Africa. I was in Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and go on safari in Tanzania and decided to add on a week in Rwanda, almost as an afterthought. Boy was I glad I did. I can say without hesitation Rwanda is the most fascinating destination I've ever visited. There's nothing superficial about it. It's a place of extreme beauty—and sadness—but the government and the people are all dedicated to making their country a better place, and a destination tourists would want to come to for intimate natural and cultural encounters.

While in Rwanda, I went to see the famous mountain gorillas of Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, and was able to get within feet of a wild gorilla family relaxing and eating with one another as if they were on a picnic. I also visited with the locals who live near the park, and had the chance to speak with them about their lives and how they were working to create a better future for their communities. Because tourism in Rwanda is still developing, it's best to travel with a knowledgeable guide who can make travel arrangements for you and take you to the best places to see. I went with Amahoro Tours, an excellent local company that specializes in community-based tourism."

(Photo: Molly Feltner)

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