I’ll file this one under Punxsutawney TPOL, the directory of trips I say I’ll take but do not because of COVID. The latest in the world of imaginary adventures includes a gorilla trekking safari in the DRC. While watching a game between Chelsea and Arsenal, I saw the advertisement that said ‘Rwanda Is Open.’ As the game was played at Emirates Stadium, my mind also started to contemplate the possibilities of where I could go in Africa by routing through the Middle East. Due to the value of AA points, I would not be routing through Dubai but would go through Doha on Qatar, a business class product that I have not flown since The $77,000 Trip Heard Round the World.
I went to BA’s website and could not believe the availability to Doha and beyond in business. I went to Kayak’s COVID website and saw that it was manageable to go to DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda. Then I went to visit.virunga.org and saw how easy it was to book a package (contrast How to Book a Trip to Bhutan). Like Bhutan, obtaining a visa, a persistent problem for me (see Visas), is also arranged through the outfitter.
All set for an impulse buy, I almost put the itinerary on hold, an admittedly bold move. Then I started reading about the COVID protocols for Virunga. Namely, if someone tests positive for COVID he/she will not be able to go on the trek. This reminded me of my Malaria/food poisoning incident in Maasa Mara (see Malaria Or Food Poisoning? Day 2 Safari Ruined). Frozen again, I closed Internet Explorer and went back to the Stone Age of accepting that TPOL’s adventures are on hold forever.
This morning I awoke to an email from Visit Virugna outlining the details of the itinerary. At a cost of $2000, it includes a gorilla trek and an overnight hike up Nyiragongo Volcano. Maybe I should risk it. At this point, I know nothing except that I still have my sense of adventure and that I am happy to have done so much before this damn virus upended my lifestyle (see 11 Reasons Why I Still Don’t Want to Travel).
Preemptory Response to Annoying Comments: For those that have left their basement during COVID, don’t tell me your trip to Croatia and Tulum count as travel and that COVID requirements aren’t a big deal. That is not travel. That is child’s play.