We can't imagine a more wonderful experience than trekking to see the gorillas up close and personal nor a more wonderful place for the experience than Clouds. The property is very privately located atop a mountain ridge but just a five minute walk from the ranger station where we met for our treks to see the Nkuringo gorilla group. The main lodge building is a beautiful stone structure, with commanding views out over the nearby mountains and valleys and very generous gathering and dining areas. Guests stay in stone "cottages" located with privacy in mind. Our cottage and the cottage for the couple we were traveling with had a very large living room (yes, a living room, not just a sitting area), a porch, a large bedroom with kingsize bed and a large bathroom. Oh, yes, and a fireplace: great for warmth on a cool mountain evening and a wonderful light and sound to fall asleep to.
On arrival, we were greeted by the delightful couple who managed the lodge and seemed to take it as their personal responsibility to make us feel like family. With the exception of the managers and the chef, who served the best meals we had during our two and a half weeks in Africa and some of the best we have ever had, the rest of the staff were people from the community. This was part of the agreement between the community and the resort operator which calls for the lodge to become the property of the community after ten years. We and the other couple we were traveling with were assigned a butler and housekeeper, who were friendly and did everything imaginable to make our stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. A couple of examples: during our tour of the Batwa (pygmy) forest, it started to rain, and Sipi, our butler who had stayed back at the lodge. arrived unannounced out in the forest with an umbrella for each of us: and after a grueling eight hour trek to see the gorillas, we turned our very dirty clothes and equally dirty hiking boots over to our housekeeper, and they were delivered back to us early the next morning, clothes cleaned and ironed and hiking boots cleaned, dried AND POLISHED--that's never happened to them in all their years on our feet. The eight hour trek meant we returned to Clouds too late for the full body massage we had planned, but we were encouraged to take the shorter foot massage. Not only did it feel wonderful after the day we had had, but it may have been the only reason we were able to get out of bed and go trekking the next morning. Fortunately, we found the gorillas that day in less than an hour and were able to enjoy the full body massage that afternoon. It would be a mistake for anyone to pass up that wonderful, and healing, experience.
Having done it, we can say without reservation that the hour that we spent with the gorillas our first day was worth every minute of the eight hours of bushwhacking straight up steep mountains and then down steep mountains. We were thrilled to have the privilege of seeing them in the wild at such a close distance. Our next two days of trekking were much shorter and our experiences with the gorillas on those days were even more exciting. On the second day, one of the silverbacks treated us to the excitement of a mock charge (safely handled by our ranger guide). On the third day, the dominant silverback of the group, which we were watching from about fifteen or twenty feet, got up, walked toward us and sat down about four feet from us. It was an incredible experience to be that close to them in the wild and a spiritual experience to look into their eyes.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- CLOUDS MOUNTAIN GORILLA LODGE Where: Southern Bwindi, Western Uganda Access from Entebbe: Scheduled or charter flight (1.5 Hrs) | drive (11 hrs) Tucked away in Nkuringo, Clouds has immediate access to track 6 gorilla families, and perfect, uninterrupted views of the Virunga Volcanoes. Guests stay in cottages built of volcanic stone, with big sitting rooms, double-sided fireplaces, vast overstuffed armchairs, large bathrooms and private verandas. Personal butlers, delicious food from our organic vegetable garden, a massage spa and infinite attention-to-detail complete your stay. Rates include all meals, non premium brand drinks, butler service and laundry. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Hotel Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge Uganda/Bwindi Impenetrable National Park