Second-Time Safari Goers Talk about Zanzibar and Rwanda Extensions

Written by Ali Riley, Thomson Safaris Creative Director

rwanda gorilla trekking guides

Thomson guests Rick Genter and Martina Keinath recently wrote us a heartwarming letter about their second safari in Tanzania. Now, they are sharing the experience of their trip extensions in Zanzibar and Rwanda. Read on for peaceful beaches, gorilla trekking and emotional silverback encounters.


Dear Thomson,

From the moment we arrived in Zanzibar, it was comfortable and welcoming. We loved the setting. The beach was wonderful, as were the staff at the hotel.

beach at zuri zanzibar

The bungalows were beautiful and comfortable. Zanzibar is truly is a paradise. We wanted to start our trip with relaxation, and Zanzibar provided the perfect setting. We also enjoyed the activities: a tour of the spice garden, a Zanzibari cooking class and snorkeling off of Mnemba Island.

sunset over indian ocean on zanzibar

We also booked a romantic dinner for two (to celebrate our anniversary) and a Middle Eastern dinner experience. The sunsets were breathtaking.



gorilla in rwanda

After six days in Zanzibar we went to Rwanda. The gorilla treks were quite the adventure. On the first day, we asked for an “easy” hike. We hiked for about an hour to reach the gorillas, then spent an hour observing them. The family we observed was very calm and the young ones were playful. They were very relaxed, chewing on their bamboo.

gorilla baby chewing bamboo

gorilla trekking in rwanda

On the second day, we asked for another “easy” hike. The family we were to meet was headed by a silverback named “Lucky.” He was named Lucky because one of his females had given birth to twins and both survived.

We hiked for an hour to reach the park, another hour to chase the gorillas as they were on the move, then another hour outside the park so that we could watch them again. Finally, we caught up to the gorillas, but they were still on the move. We hiked with them for the hour we were able to be with them. They were moving so much because there was a rogue silverback in the area who was trying to steal a female from the family.

young gorilla in rwanda

Towards the end of our hour, the rogue silverback showed up. He asserted his dominance by standing on his hind legs and breaking off one of the bamboo trees. The twins, who are now 8 years old and considered “blackbacks” (young adults) took off after the rogue, followed by Lucky. They all ran past us so close that one person in our party actually got bumped by Lucky!

All through the hike, we noticed this very strong smell. It turned out to be a pheromone that gorillas emit when they are agitated or scared–it’s a signal to the family that there’s danger in the area and that they need to stay together. The person who got bumped mentioned afterwards that her clothes smelled “like gorilla.”

mother gorilla with baby

Overall, the gorilla treks were a dream come true. They were much more than we expected, and we were downright emotional. We’re now thinking we need to go on a chimpanzee trek as well.

Rwanda was a real eye-opener for us. We didn’t know anything about the country before we went. What we saw and learned was astounding. The country is very clean and has a positive energy throughout.

We can’t thank Thomson enough for organizing this amazing and epic trip. This was by far the most complex trip we’ve ever taken, and we know that this was a ton of work. It all went flawlessly, and that’s a real tribute to the Thomson staff.

Rick & Martina