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KAMPALA, Uganda (05/2012) The Madhvani Group, one of the largest diversified private-sector investors in Uganda, has recently acquired (on 1st April 2012) through Marasa Africa, its tourism subsidiary, Silverback Lodge in Buhoma, Western Uganda, proximate to the rare, beloved and endangered Mountain Gorillas.

Through its acquisition of Silverback and its existing portfolio of Mweya Safari Lodge (Queen Elizabeth National Park), Paraa and Chobe Safari Lodges (Murchison Falls National Park), Marasa Africa is able to offer travelers the definitive Uganda experience.

Silverback Lodge, the largest property in Buhoma, comprises 12 self-contained rooms overlooking nearby Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to Mountain Gorillas, other primates, including chimpanzees, 346 species of birds and 163 species of trees. The Lodge is excellently located, just a short walk to the forest park headquarters, and affords the best, most sweeping views of the valley. In time to welcome guests this season, Silverback will immediately undergo basic upgrading (new bedding, china, glassware, etc.). Thereafter, it will undergo soft refurbishment in keeping with its rustic, traditional style and homey feel. In addition, new kitchens will be introduced, some new furniture added, and infrastructure, including water supply and pressure, will be improved. Rates start at an exceptionally reasonable $380 full board for a double twin room because of its size, the lodge can accommodate larger groups.

To observe the gorillas, visitors need a seasoned guide and a permit secured well in advance, usually by the tour operator. While rates for gorilla trekking permits have recently increased by half in Rwanda to $750 per person, rates have remained at $500 in Uganda. Those who have experienced seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat invariably say, “It’s the thrill of a lifetime.”

Before farmers cleared the slopes for cultivation some 900 years ago, Bwindi was part of a larger forest that extended along the Rift Valley escarpment south to the Virunga volcanoes. In 1961, Bwindi became a Game Reserve as well as a Forest Reserve with its size increasing to 127 square miles. Then, thirty years later, as its attraction for gorilla tourism was recognized, Bwindi was elevated to a National Park. That same year habituation of two gorilla families began, and two years later the “Mubare” group was made available to tourists. Another family was habituated the following year. More groups have since been habituated, and some were even split into two to increase the number of families. Today, some three hundred plus Mountain Gorillas – half the world’s population of this highly-endangered species – live here.

Visitors can also hike in the park, meet the diminutive-sized indigenous peoples (once called Pygmies) through the Batwa Trail, tour the local Bwindi Community Hospital, and stroll through the community gardens.

Because of its outstanding beauty and scientific value as one of the densest rainforests on the planet, in 1994, the entirety of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site. At the time it was said that Bwindi’s eco-system “defines the very essence of the continent.”

Silverback Lodge is an hour’s flight from Entebbe or a three-hour drive from Mweya Safari Lodge, an ideal stop-over. It can also be reached directly from Kampala by road on an entire day trip or from Kigali on a six-hour drive.

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