Five years ago, on 22 December 2011, the Gorilla Highlands initiative was first made public. We circulated a photocopied concept sheet at a Banyakigezi convention at White Horse Inn in Kabale stating:
– the region had immense tourism potential but suffered from remoteness, insufficient travel information, excessive focus on gorillas and lack of branding
– the “Gorilla Highlands” project would tackle most of these obstacles and target both international and domestic tourists through a free booklet, a website, a promotional video, an information centre in Uganda’s capital and a mobile app
We never did much about the Kampala info centre but the rest has grown into an intiative much bigger and deeper than envisaged in December 2011. Most interestingly, while the original concept presented Rwanda as Uganda’s competitor, in December 2016 Gorilla Highlands moved its headquarters to Kigali.
No, we have not been bought or co-opted. We just feel we need to be as Rwandan as we are Ugandan to make our trans-boundary region a reality. We have long been promoting Kigali as the entry point into the region and having our team there makes sense.
A small team of East African employees can now provide support to international volunteers and partners in Uganda and Rwanda. The idea is still the same: Gorilla Highlands as something that belongs to everybody, an informal cooperation of private sector players and everybody else who cares about Uganda and Rwanda. We will continue to utilise tourism as a tool to uplift the poor, as a means of economic and social development.
We have, however, definitely grown up.
text: Miha Logar
Gorilla Highlands blog essentials: