Ask the Expert: Tour Group’s Head Guide Talks Gorilla Trekking in Africa, Solo Travel Ideas

Ask the Expert: Tour Group’s Head Guide Talks Gorilla Trekking in Africa, Solo Travel Ideas

Brandon Presser answers your travel questions in his new column for Jet Set.

With week two of Bravo's new show Tour Group in the bag, the show's top guide, Brandon Presser, is back on Jet Set to answer viewers' burning travel questions. (Tweet at Brandon any time to ask your own question... and he might answer it here!)

Today, Brandon offers advice about gorilla trekking in Africa and solo travel ideas.

1. Spotting Gorillas in Africa

Candice Scott (@Candice_Scott_) asks: “Love the show! Do you lead trips when not filming? Also want to see the gorillas in Uganda! Can you recommend a guide? Thank you!”
"So glad you’re loving the show! Excited for you to see the next few episodes as we really ramp up the bucket-list travel experiences on the tour. 
And speak of bucket list experiences... gorilla trekking! Let me quickly explain the geography of the mountain gorilla experience: There are about 800 gorillas living in a mountain range shaped like a lowercase "i," with the bulk of the spine winding through the Congo and Rwanda, and the dot of the "i," called Bwindi, in Uganda. All three countries offer comparable gorilla viewing experiences with the Congo perhaps providing the biggest wow factor — there’s a gurgling volcano nearby as an added bonus — but with the largest safety precautions. 

For most travelers it is a choice between Rwanda and Uganda. For Tour Group, we felt a stronger connection with Rwanda for a whole host of reasons (which you’ll soon get to see on the show). A park visa fee of $1,000 per person is strictly applied, and the money does two things: keeps visitor numbers very low and weeds out those who aren’t serious about their wildlife pursuits. The money also goes back to the government to continue protecting the park and the species. 
There are accommodations that border the national park that suit every budget type, but the guiding itself is left up to highly skilled local rangers who take groups of eight into the park each morning. Upon successfully acquiring your visa, you’re asked to meet at the entrance to the national park early in the morning where you’re divided into groups, educated on the families of gorillas you’re about to meet, and assigned to your friendly local ranger."

2. Solo Travel Ideas

Kristin Allen (@allenkr5) asks: “What is your number one tip for a solo traveler?”
"Great question, Kristin. I’m a huge fan of solo travel as one of the best transformative experiences out there. I spent years on the road on my own penning guidebooks and wouldn’t trade those adventures for anything in the world. 
My best advice to you as a solo traveler is to find a project while abroad — something that keeps your travel motor running on the off days here and there when you might be a tad lonely. A journey of discovery is fun and great, but if you wrap it around an activity like taking scuba diving lessons, or partaking in a surf camp, you’ll have a little mission built in, which — as a bonus — will help you meet some fellow travelers. 

I worked at a dive center on Ko Tao in Thailand for some time and found that it was a great place for like-minded travelers to meet. Tutorials were arranged in small groups and at the end of the three-and-a-half-day open water course, it felt like participants were bonded for life. Some even went on to travel with one another after leaving the island for other destinations in Thailand."
Do you have a question for Brandon? Tweet your queries to him at @bpnomad, and follow Jet Set on Facebook. 
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