The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is either a daydream or a nightmare depending on if you love wild animals (especially gorillas), or if you’ve seen Planet of the Apes one too many times. It would be hard to plan a trip here without a gorilla sighting. More than half of the world’s Mountain Gorilla population live in this World Heritage-designated site. Beside the gorillas, you can see everything from elephants to butterflies as well.
The non-animal scenery is spectacular, too: The terrain features volcanoes, mountains, and forests. You can walk along a bamboo trail, see waterfalls, and check out the Ruizi River.
Where is it? Southwestern Uganda.
Where to stay? Help preserve this beautiful environment by staying in the eco-friendly Volcanoes Virunga Lodge. You won’t be sacrificing comfort, though: The lodge features just eight private residences, all with amazing views of the Virunga volcanoes and Ruhondo and Bulera lakes. You will have to sacrifice about $400 a night, however. On a budget? Stay in the Nshongi Camp (rustic cottages near the park entrance), which have no electricity but offer a real “communing with nature” experience for around $40 a night.
What else should I know? The park can be treacherous, with wet ground, charging gorillas, and thick undergrowth, so it’s best to be physically fit on a trip like this one. Only a few gorilla trekking permits are available each day, so you should be sure to go on a guided group that can guarantee one.
Who’s it for? Animal lovers, hikers, the adventurous, Dian Fossey wannabes.