Monday, 23 April 2012

Where to start

We will be travelling in Uganda/Rwanda for approximately 3 weeks, so how did we chose what to do and where to go.

We made a list of the things that we definitely wanted to do and see - this list was initially very short..

1 - See the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

2 - er that's it.....

So the holiday hinged on getting booked onto a mountain gorilla trek, and then fitting everything round about this.  We purchased two guide books, getting the most up to date ones we could find firstly the lonelyplanet for East Africa despite saying the last time I was in Africa that I wouldn't use a lonely planet guide again!  And secondly the Footprint guide to Uganda .

For Rwandan mountain gorillas you need a permit and the lonely planet guide book recommended using a local agency rather than trying to book directly with the Rwandan Tourist Board, as they would probably be much easier to deal with.

The guide book recommended Amahoro tours and a quick e-mail to them was all it took to get the arrangements started.  Amahoro have a guest house in Musanze/Ruhengeri and we have booked to stay with them here, get transferred to the visitor centre for the trek, and for a community visit.  They have arranged the permits for the gorilla trek.

Apart from one small blip, when they contacted me to say that there was a problem with my chosen date (3 months after I booked it!) they seem to have been very professional.  We were lucky to book as early as we did as the permit fees have increased from $500 pp to $750, but as we had booked before the price rise we got ours for the $500.

As you can see this is not cheap, the total cost for 2 nights B&B at the guest house, trekking to see the gorillas, banana beer making and basket weaving visit was US$1580.00 (£981.00 or 1200.00Euro).

I transferred half of this amount using internet banking, with a request from Amahoro to bring the remaining 50% in cash.  However, I think I'll probably transfer the remainder before travelling as I don't want to be carrying too much cash around with us.  When I transferred the money I only paid my bank's fees, but this means that Amahoro's bank's fees get deducted from the amount that they receive, and not surprisingly they want us to pay all the fees.  So feel free to add another £50 onto the top of the bill if you want to use bank transfers!

So once the gorilla permits were in  place, everything else could get arranged...

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