Black Meetings and Tourism

September / October 2022

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B M & T ••• September/October2022 ••• 13 trekking experience was a total of 3 hours. Finally encountering the chim- panzees was breathtaking. They are habituated (used to encountering humans) and very human-like, which was fascinating to see and experi- ence. The chimp kids behave like human children and the chimp adults hangout as if they are lounging in their living room. Witnessing these animals in their natural habitat was astonishing and well worth the 3-hour trek throughout the forest. After seeing the chimps, I couldn't wait to head back to the Kibale Forest Camp to relax, have a drink, and reflect on the once in a lifetime experience with my partner. Next up was the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we got to experience our first safari! We arrived at the Queen Elizabeth National Park in the late after- noon. Although our guide, Peter, had driven 6+ hours to the National Park, he was very enthusiastic about leveraging the remaining time in the day to give us an unplanned glimpse of the National Park in the late evening. Peter brought us on what is referred to as a late afternoon "game drive," commonly referred to as a safari. It was spontaneous and not on our agenda. The afternoon game drive was beautiful. The sun was coming down and it felt great to be back amongst the animals in their natural habitat (in a comfortable vehicle. During this spontaneous afternoon game drive, we ran into buffalo, elephants, antelopes, and many other animals. This was a great introduction to the safari that was planned for the following morning. Before getting into the safari, lets talk about the accommo- dation for our Queen Elizabeth National Park experience. We arrived at the Bush Lodge after our late afternoon game drive. The Bush Lodge had beautiful grounds and we were once again greeted with a fresh juice and very accommodating staff. Similar to the chimpanzee trekking, the Bush Lodge was an IMMERSIVE experience. Arriving in the evening by boat made the experience that much more immersive. As we arrived, you could hear hippos snorting, see bats flying, and hear the many mysterious noises that nature has to offer. It felt like we were on set for the movie Jumanji. As the anxiety settled, we were able to get a good night sleep in preparation for our early morning game drive. We arrived at the Queen Elizabeth National Park by 5:30am, where we had the privilege of seeing the sun rise as well as being one of the only vehicles there at the time. We packed our lunches, drove, and explored for over 4 hours. We saw animals and reptiles in trees, bushes, behind rocks, and in the open. It was insane. These are the animals that you see on the National Geographic channel and seeing them in person is an unexplainable experience. We experienced a rare sighting of a Leopard, spotted lions, elephants, antelope, bushbabies, lizards, hippos, and rare birds. I would highly recommend the Queen Elizabeth National Park, as each day nature's amazing ecosystem provides you with a unique and unrepeatable experience. Our next stop was the last and most antici- pated stop of the trip, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest... I want to start by stating that this was one of the most beautiful drives of our trip and our accommodations were absolutely stunning. We stayed at the Rushaga Gorilla Camp, where we were again, greeted with fresh juices and welcomed by the staff. Our room was outstanding with floor- to-ceiling windows and overlooked the greenery of the forest as if we were in a treehouse. The reason this was the most anticipated portion of the trip is because this is where we were scheduled to go Gorilla Trekking. In fact, it is one of the only places in the world that you can experience Gorillas in their natural habitat. The good news is that the nervousness had somewhat subsided, since we had an introduction to trekking with the chimpanzees. We had found our way through the forest once, who's to say we can't do it again… Although this time we planned to encounter the

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