The remote, comfortable Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is surrounded by the lushness of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, making it the perfect base for once-in-a-liftetime encounters with some of the national park’s 350 mountain gorillas. The camp has eight thatched luxury tents, as well as a spa, open-sided communal area and outdoor campfire.
Whilst the camp is arguably Uganda’s best base for gorilla treks, guests may not even have to depart from its laidback atmosphere, as inquisitive gorilla families frequently wander straight into camp! An illuminating cultural walk is included in the full board rates, taking participants to a tea farming project, a brewery and the school and hospital which are supported by the camp’s community outreach project. At additional cost, guests can enjoy forest walks, game drives in the Queen Elizabeth National Park and remarkable full day outings with Batwa Pygmies, the forest’s first human residents.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is set on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley in the corner of southwest Uganda. It is a World Heritage Site covering an area of dense lowland forest, steep hills and deep valleys. It and has become famous for its population of 350 mountain gorillas – the largest number to be found anywhere in the world. Due to the wildness of the terrain, visitors sometimes find the the gorilla treks tough going, but will be rewarded with virtually guaranteed sightings of these awe-inspiring primates.
The Bwindi Forest is one of the only forests to have survived the Pleistocene ice age, and has become a renowned biodiversity hotspot, harbouring 11 other primate species (including chimpanzees), elephants, forest antelope, around 350 bird species and over 200 species of dazzling butterflies. The thick vegetation of the park is broken up by sparkling lakes, waterfalls and the dramatic Virunga mountain range, which can be explored along several spectacular hiking trails traversing the extinct volcanic peaks.
The Batwa Pygmies have called Bwindi home for thousands of years, and the short-statured tribe are not only the keepers of the forest’s mystical secrets, but also entrancing storytellers and dancers.
Situated on lush lawns, surrounded by nothing but the dense greenery of the forest, the camp is a remarkably tranquil place. The main area is a thatched, open-sided structure which allows the calls of birds and primates to be constantly appreciated.
A warmly African feel in the comfy lounge, bar and dining area is complemented by smiling staff members who go out of their way to make guests feel at home. The lawn in front of the main building is often used for al-fresco dining, while a small set of steps leads down to a campfire surrounded by handcrafted wooden armchairs. There is also a mini-spa which offers a soothing range of treatments and massages.
Accommodation comes in the form of eight luxury tents with canvas walls and thatched roofs, each occupying its own secluded location in the forest. The tents each house two Queen-size beds - one for each guest - leading to a bathroom with a huge bathtub featuring forest views. During relaxation time, guests can enjoy a cocktail on their polished wooden viewing deck. To ensure highly personalised service, each tent is allocated a personal attendant.
Prior to the morning’s exciting activities, guests are treated to a sumptuous continental and Full English breakfast served either in the dining cottage or outside.
This will provide the perfect fuel for a gorilla trek as guests walk through the forest with a guide to find one of the habituated groups. A magical hour will be spent with the primates, watching as they go about their daily business undisturbed. The camp will pack a delicious picnic lunch to take along with you.
On other days, you can opt to go on the complimentary cultural tour, a touching experience which will give you an intimate insight into the lives of the local people. The full-day Batwa Tribe experience is also well worth the extra cost, allowing you to interact with the Pygmies, enjoy a musical performance and learn about hunting and gathering. Apart from its gorillas, the forest offers up a feast of other natural delights, which can be experienced during a guided nature walk.
Safari enthusiasts can arrange to go on a guided drive in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of Uganda’s most game-rich wilderness areas.
As night falls, a magnificent four or five course dinner is served by the warm glow of lanterns. Romantics can also arrange private dining experiences. The day wraps up with a jovial nightcap around the campfire or in the lounge.