Tour day 4 - Gorilla trekking time!!!!

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Travel Blog

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Up close and personal with our gorilla friend

Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest has it’s name for good reason! The arduous trek was worth it however, to have a close encounter with a family of mountain gorillas.

We were given strict instructions to stay 7 metres away from the gorillas, but they must have missed the briefing, running wherever they wanted amongst the trekkers. It took our breath away when one suddenly got up and ran right at us, missing us by centimetres!

We were very amused by the travel advice before the tour indicating that if 250 kg silverback gorilla charges at you, just stay calm :))  

Even though something like 99% of groups do see the gorillas, for most of the day there's that lingering doubt, just wondering whether you'll be lucky enough.

Aboslutely mind-blowing when they just sit there and look in to your eyes...
  Several hours before we set out, trackers are sent ahead in to the forest to pick up the trail from where the gorillas where the previous day.  So you initially start on good paths in the direction of the gorillas, then as tracker information comes through on the radio, this gradually deteriorates in to a forest track, then a forest track needing machete, and then just a climb anyway you can through the undergrowth :)

We ended up seeing the Mubare group, which is one of aobut 4 groups that have been "habituated", essentially meaning they are used to tourists.  Unfortunately the photos of these creatures don't do the experience justice. You aren't permitted to use flash photography, but I assure you that staring in to the eyes of a silverback from a few metres away is an absolutely breath-taking moment.

We were amazed how close we could get to them

 

******************Tour blurb below

Day 4 / Gorilla Trek - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

This morning we meet our specialist gorilla guides for a brief safety talk and further information about the gorilla trek and the national park. Our guide is fluent in English and will pass on information to us that to ensure that we understand more about the gorillas and how they live. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest covers an area of 330 square kilometres and is located in the far south-west of the country where Uganda, Rwanda and DRC (Congo) meet. This pocket of huge primeval forest is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth. It has an eco-system that defines the very essence of the continent and has therefore been designated as a World Heritage site.

I think the gorillas made Laura a bit smiley :)
We set off with our guide into the forest in search of these magnificent apes. The gorilla families may either be close or further afield and they may also be on the move, whilst we are trekking. The forest floor is damp and laden with leaf mould, matted vegetation and fallen vines, which serve to trip you up as you clamber up and down the slippery slopes in search of a glimpse of the elusive gorillas. The altitude reaches a maximum of just under 2000 metres, but this can still be a long and tough climb in damp and humid conditions. We are likely to get within metres of the family we are tracking and will be able to spend an hour observing these magnificent primates. Please note that gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases and you should advise your guide if you are suffering from a cold or anything similar. It would be irresponsible to risk the health of even one of the last 700 remaining mountain gorillas that are still living in their natural habitat. Returning to base, we can either unwind and celebrate our unforgettable gorilla experience or take up an optional activity in Bwindi.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
photo by: sarahelaine