It’s not necessarily a given that someone as well traveled as Victoria will be wowed by a new destination, but she described her recent visit to Rwanda as one of the most amazing trips of her lifetime. We’re going to let the photos below do most of the talking, but the essence of this visit was to experience and evaluate the services and accommodations of Micato Safaris and the One&Only resorts in Rwanda. In every respect, the experience exceeded what one would expect from the world’s foremost Safari company, Micato.
One&Only has built its brand reputation on exquisite resorts that respect and reflect the indigenous culture, and they certainly knocked it out of the park with the two resorts that Victoria visited, One&Only Nyungwe House and One&Only Gorilla’s Nest.
First, the journey: It’s a considerable trip to get from Chicago to Kigali. Victoria traveled on Turkish Airlines both ways, flying through Istanbul. The business class experience was everything you’d expect: excellent service and extremely comfortable accommodations, including (very importantly), seats that convert into flat beds for the long overseas flights between Chicago and Istanbul.
Kigali was a great place to start the trip. The city is modern and immaculate. Rwanda has had a difficult history, including a period of conflict in the 1990s that led to an episode of genocide that resulted in thousands of deaths. Remarkably, the people of Rwanda have confronted their history directly, and openly embrace the concept of forgiveness and cooperation. It’s in this spirit that every able-bodied citizen joins in a monthly effort to clean their streets, parks, and public places. It makes for a pleasant visit, but one that’s also instructive for the rest of the world. During her time in Kigali, Victoria visited the genocide museum, as well as a local coffee cooperative, and found herself buoyed by the stories of immense progress in what was once a war-torn nation.
The real heart of the trip, though, was the opportunity to experience wild Rwanda in the care of Micato and One&Only. It’s possible to drive to make the drive to the resorts, but Victoria opted for a helicopter flight to One&Only Nyungwe that offered stunning vistas of the mountains, jungle, and agricultural plantations along the way.
Time in wild Rwanda was spent at two unbelievable One&Only resorts, the aforementioned Nyungwe and Gorilla’s Nest. Victoria participated in three days of trekking during her stay...one to visit families of chimpanzees and two to observe gorillas. These are physically challenging days, covering long distances on foot through jungle terrain, sometimes in pouring rain. However, the opportunity to see these threatened species in the wild is unparalleled.
Before we turn you over to the slideshow, it is worth making a couple of points for those who might be thinking about a similar journey. First, current government regulations restrict visits to the gorilla and chimp families to those 16 years of age and older. Second, those who do participate should anticipate that the treks themselves are physically challenging, involving trekking through the jungle at altitudes of 7,000 - 9,000 feet above sea level.
The experience of mingling with mankind’s closest relatives in their natural habitat is awe-inspiring. Massive, powerful, and incredibly intelligent, the up-close experience with these amazing animals reminds us of the fact that we have a great responsibility to act as the curators of the planet. Micato and One&Only are fully dedicated to the preservation of the habitats in which they operate, and a large amount of the cost of these experiences directly supports the protection of these wild species and their fragile jungle homes.
You’re likely to end those days muddy and exhausted. But, apart from one of the more extraordinary wildlife experiences anywhere, you’ll find that you’ll be greeted back at the resort by a cheerful entourage that will arrange for your clothing and shoes to be thoroughly cleaned, and treated to a rejuvenating concoction of tea and herbs, before settling in for a satisfying dinner and time to contemplate the wonders of the day. Luxury amidst one of the last wild places.
Those who make this journey will find themselves continuously awestruck by the beauty of Rwanda, the warmth of its people, and natural encounters that are at the very pinnacle of wildlife experiences.
There are a handful of iconic travel experiences in the world that every dedicated explorer should pursue. This is among them.
Rwanda is truly an an experience beyond....