The Travel Q&A column in the June 27 Travel section gave incorrect contact information for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. The correct information is 800-851-0203, www.gorillafund.org. (Published 6/30/04)
Q I'd like to take a tour to see mountain gorillas, but I'm sensitive about invading their habitat. Can you recommend a tour?
A Viewing mountain gorillas is strictly regulated by authorities at the Virunga National Park in Rwanda and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda, the only two places the endangered gorillas can be found. Only about 650 are left in the wild; none lives in captivity.
Only about 50 people per day receive permits to visit the various gorilla groups, and no more than six people per day can visit any one group. You can spend no more than an hour seeing the gorillas and you must keep a distance of about eight yards. If you have a cold, you won't be allowed to go on the trek to avoid the spread of human disease.
Some travel groups work more closely with conservation groups devoted to protecting this primate. Erika Archibald, spokeswoman for the nonprofit Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, recommends Volcanoes Safaris (770-730-0960, www.volcanoessafaris.com), which offers tours ranging from five to 11 days. An eight-day "Gorillas in the Virungas and Bwindi" tour from Kigali, Rwanda, is $2,160 per person double. Archibald said the Gorilla Fund's CEO also leads two trips per year. Info: 011-44-20-7483-2681, www.dianfossey.org.
Craig Sholley, spokesman for the African Wildlife Foundation (202-939-3339, www.awf.org), said his nonprofit group occasionally sponsors gorilla treks. He said most of the better-run safari firms in the United States contract with Volcanoes Safaris or Classic Africa Safaris in Uganda to conduct their gorilla treks. Phil Ward, U.S. rep for Classic Africa Safaris, said the average cost, based on four clients, is $230 to $250 per day per person, plus gorilla trekking permits ($125 each); contact Ward at 304-724-8235 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Could you recommend a town in Holland outside of Amsterdam to use as a base for touring the countryside by car? Any lodging recommendations?
The Netherlands is a small country: East to west is about 100 miles, and north to south about 200 miles. Much of the population is centered in Amsterdam and several cities on its western and southern outskirts, including Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, collectively known as the Randstad. Most tourists stay within this general area, which includes the smaller historic towns of Delft and Gouda.
Delft, a quintessential Dutch town about 35 miles southwest of Amsterdam, is just inland from The Hague and close to Gouda. The only downside is that it's often crowded with tourists, especially during summer. Lodging choices include Bridges House Hotel (011-31-15-212-4036, www.bridges-house.com), Hotel Vermeer (011-31-15-212-6466, www.zalwinhotelgroep.nl) and Hotel Leeuwenbrug (011-31-15-214-7741, www.leeuwenbrug.nl).
If you want to go farther afield, consider Arnhem, about 50 miles southeast of Amsterdam. Called the "Garden City on the Rhine," it's the location of the World War II battle depicted in the movie "A Bridge Too Far" and is just outside of De Hoge Veluwe National Park, a 130,000-acre nature preserve. The Kroller-Muller Museum, with its extensive van Gogh collection, is inside the park. Hotel Landgoed Groot Warnsborn (011-31-26-445-5751, www.grootwarnsborn.nl), starting at $148 a night, is a historic hotel in the woods near the park.
Info: Netherlands Board of Tourism, 212-557-3500, www.holland.com/us.
Are there any travel groups that organize vacations for families and their dogs?
Blue Sky Dogs (212-531-3647, www.blueskydogsny.com) arranges weekend trips for you and your pets. A weekend in the Catskills on July 23-25, for example, starts at $385 per person double including one dog. Camp Dogwood (312-458-9549, www.campdogwood.com) operates weeklong camps for dogs and their owners in Michigan and Illinois.
Resources to help you plan a trip with your pet include DogGone, a 16-page bimonthly newsletter of "pure dog travel information." A $25 subscription also allows access to its database of 33,500 dog-friendly places to stay. Info: 970-586-9166, www.doggonefun.com. A Web-based firm is TravelDog (www.traveldog.com), which charges $4.95 for a trial one-month membership.
Animal Fair, a "lifestyle magazine for animal lovers," includes articles about traveling with pets; an eight-issue subscription costs $19.95. Books that may be helpful include "Pets on the Go: A Definitive Pet Accommodation and Vacation Guide" by Dawn and Robert Habgood (Dawbert Press). A free Internet resource of pet friendly hotels is www.petswelcome.com.
Send queries by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071).