I’m sharing a few more of my favourite African experiences. This time I’ll be talking about what excites me in urban Africa, how special it feels to witness conservation in action and what I consider to be a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, spending time with mountain gorillas.
In regard to the itineraries we put together for guests, this is probably one of the most neglected areas. Yes, it can be tempting to spend your vacation time in stunning natural environments, but I would argue that if you want to experience the new, real, Africa, then this also needs to be done in cities – as this is where really exciting things are emerging, especially in the creative realms. So many growing African cities are now hotbeds of talent in regard to art, fashion, music and design.
Cities that I recommend spending some time – and which get more interesting every time I visit – include Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Kigali. We have friends and contacts in each of these cities that are considered true experts in their fields – they can take you to the best spots and allow you to experience what is, for many, something really different and truly unique.
Our purpose at AMADI is to bring conservation closer to our guests. There’s a quote I love by David Attenborough that mentions we only want to protect things that we care about. By helping people to witness conservation in action is how we want to achieve this.
There’s often a philanthropic angle involved with these kinds of experiences – such as a mandatory donation – where a guest can help to fund a conservation mission and participate at the same time. When I know somebody wants to get involved in some way, I speak to our vast network on the ground and find out what needs to be done.
We then make it possible for guests to witness this first-hand. Having witnessed guests get involved over the years, I can say that there is a certain type of satisfaction that comes from seeing something you really care about get done. Especially when it can be combined with spending time in a beautiful environment with those you love.
Examples include everything from rhino notching and dehorning to collaring. Conservation is often very personal, so I recommend getting in touch to discuss what it is that you would like to experience.
Spending time with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda or Congo DRC remains one of my favourite wildlife experiences. There are only two populations of these majestic creatures, in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Virunga Range. A new crop of luxury lodges (especially in Rwanda) means this kind of adventure can now be done in very comfortable surroundings.
It’s very humbling to observe the real resemblances between us and gorillas. By watching them up close our shared traits and characteristics become apparent… reminding us just how entwined we are with the natural world.
On a very positive note, the protection of mountain gorillas is a real conservation success story. In 2002 there were just a few hundred mountain gorillas remaining on the planet. There are now 1,063, located in the two separate populations. In 2018 mountain gorillas were upgraded from IUCN’s “critically endangered” list to “endangered” — the situation is still fragile, but things are headed in the right direction. A powerful example of what the right kind of tourism can contribute.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about my favourite African experiences. To know more about any of these experiences please get in touch with me or the team. You can email me at [email protected] or get in touch via our website.