Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Bwindi Mountain Gorillas


As I write I'm sitting in a mountain side lodge high in the Bwindi mountains, Uganda. 
To say I am a happy bunny would be an understatement. Today I fulfilled a childhood ambition to spend time in the forest with Ugandas Mountain Gorillas. 
There have been too many memorable experiences to recount, but for me the highlight of this safari is to find Mountain Gorillas. Which is exactly what we did on our second last day.
We arrived in Bwindi after a long slow drive up into the mountains. Temperatures dropped as we progressed up the single track dirt roads often at a snails pace, but it was definately worth the journey when we trekked into the forest the next morning.
We were fortunate that our trackers located a family of seventeen Gorillas after about two hours trekking through the world renowned 'impenetrable forest'. Our Ugandan ground handlers had advised us to hire a porter to carry our back pack with lunch, water and rain coats, which was a life saver. The terrain is not easy going as this is a wilderness area with no footpaths or trails. We could only follow our team of trackers who forged ahead. Their job is two fold, first to find the Gorillas for us, but also (and once they have found the Gorillas) to record scientific data for the research team back at base.
The first indication that they had found their target was when I noticed they had stopped and were excitedly talking to each other in whispers. When we caught up to them, their big grins said it all. There, in a small clearing were the family. All seventeen, including the silver back out in the open. We had been briefed by our local guide on what you can and can't do in a sighting. For example, no flash photography being high on the list, but also things like not being allowed near if you have a cold and could sneeze in their vicinity and spread diseases.

In our case we were permitted to get to within 7 meters and just enjoy being in their company for the regulation time of one hour. As for the Gorillas, they paid no attention to us and simply went about their daily life. Eating the bark from a fallen tree, mothers breast feeding babies, kids play fighting and Dad getting grumpy with them all. Just an average family day for them and a life times ambition fulfilled for me.
At the end of our time, we reluctantly trekked back to the waiting vehicles. It was a very very happy (not to say animated and excited) group that arrived back at our lodge for a well earned late lunch!
Now you can also join one of our Ugandan safaris. Check out our website and then drop Carol a line for a lot more information.

Written by Will Fox
On safari in Uganda
www.ontracksafaris.co.uk

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