Why the Gorilla Highlands Society?

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda; photo by Marcus Westberg

Update, December 2018: This post has been rewritten in light of the formation of the Gorilla Highlands Society

Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo are all going to be successful countries and good neighbours one day. The history of Latin America, Asia and even Europe can hint at how the development stages go; it’s mostly a matter of time and patience.

But why be patient when we don’t need to be?

… That is the thinking behind the Gorilla Highlands Society.

During our survey earlier this year, nearly 75% of the respondents indicated it was time for the Gorilla Highlands Initiative to be formalised.
We are thus in the process of forming a mass organisation of people who care about the future of the Gorilla Highlands region.

The Region

The blue rectangle shows the area that we have been focusing on. However, we have been gradually expanding our interest within the dotted line. We planned to include DR Congo in 2018 but unfortunate events have delayed this.

Generally speaking, Rwanda as a whole, western Uganda and eastern Congo (hopefully in 2019) are our zone of interest.

Tourism Strategy

The objectives of the Gorilla Highlands Initiative have been:

• to position the term “Gorilla Highlands” as a universally accepted name for the region
• to establish the region as a destination by itself (instead of a short gorilla stop-over during an East African safari)
• to expand the perception of the region beyond gorillas
• to promote the region as an essential bucket list item
• to protect the culture and wellbeing of the region’s disadvantaged people (especially the Batwa)

Working towards these objectives we emphasise the following regional attractions: hiking and dugout canoeing, unique Rift Valley landscapes (volcanoes, lakes, rainforests), rich history and cultural variety.

We have identified these target groups:

• people planning their first visit to Africa (we think we have a fantastic destination for that)
• hikers/trekkers/adventure travellers (this is a dream land for them)
• gorilla/wildlife enthusiasts (the savannah in close proximity offers the Big 5)
• expat communities in Eastern and Central Africa (always on the lookout for new things to do)
• domestic tourists (a Gorilla Highlands TV show about tourism, culture and history is in the works)
• families (yes, this indeed is a great place for children!)
• volunteers (to help the initiative in many different ways)

Bigger Than That

Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp 2016; photo by Enock Luyonza

Our initiative has been built on marketing tourism as a source of income and pride, however, that is just a handy “export industry” we have singled out. The ambition of the Gorilla Highlands Society will be much bigger, and touch on anything that can help the region’s peace and prosperity.

We believe that economic and social development can only be built on a sound cultural foundation, and that the three countries can learn a lot from each other. We plan to promote Rwanda’s home-grown solutions, Uganda’s entrepreneurial spirit and Congo’s mentality of generosity and abundance in schools and elsewhere.

Want to become an active participant? Please read the blog entry about the Gorilla Highlands Society concept and share your opinions and ideas.

Wanna see where this is going? Do subscribe to Gorilla Highlands News, our quarterly newsletter…