Gorillas of the Impenetrable Forest*
As we trek through the thick jungle of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, our porters push and pull us up the steep incline in search of resident gorillas. We follow existing animal pathways and at times, bushwhack, chopping the way with machetes through the thick undergrowth. A little wet from perspiration and dampness, mud-splattered, we venture on!
Both Uganda and Rwanda provide access to gorillas with a permit (USD600). Our journey to Uganda is built around this opportunity to see the gorilla families of the Bwindi forest. At the National Park entrance each morning, groups of up to ten people with a local guide and armed escorts, given we are on the border with The Democratic Republic of Congo, head into the Bwindi Forest, aka ‘jungle’, to visit one of three resident gorilla families. Seven of us from the US, Canada and England join our guide for an orientation to the 5-hour hike and the Rushegura family of gorillas, our designated family we are off to find. Each person is given the option of a porter (USD20) to help us manage the climb as well as carrying bags, lunches, and water. We are so appreciative that we listened to the advice of earlier hikers to hire a porter and to take gloves!
Trackers move out early in the morning to locate the family. We head into the hills, following the leads of the trackers relayed to the guide by radio, zig-zagging across the mountain slope. After some fairly rigorous hiking, we meet up with 13 gorillas of our family, grazing and playing in the forest. We spend an hour with them, in close proximity, as the gorillas move around us. We watch in wonder as our primate relations go about their day. Beating his chest and roaring, the definitive leader lets you know who the boss is! The Rusheguras moves on. After the challenging hike, our visit is over all too quickly! Our guide shepherds us back down the slope, all babbling like excited children, fatigue forgotten, about our encounter. A remarkable experience!
* First posted on Life As A Human
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