Sight of a SilverbackOctober 3, 2011
Having recently joined Journeys Discovering Africa, two of our Tour Consultants – Racheal Nakiwu and Joan Namuwulya – had the opportunity to visit the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Here, they describe their experience:
We travelled to Bwindi by bus, along a winding road with some exciting twists and turns past tea plantations and green hills. At one point, the road was so steep, we could see way down into the Nende escarpment to the river flowing below. On arrival at Gorilla Forest Camp – a luxury camp on the edge of the forest which many people coming on a Uganda safari visit – we were warmly welcomed by the staff and offered fresh juice as well as a longed for hot shower!
After a cosy night in our exquisite tent, complete with extra blankets and hot water bottles to keep the chill at bay, we woke up on Saturday morning at 5am, for our anticipated day of mountain gorilla tracking. All set, with hiking boots, rain jacket and the all important walking stick, we could hardly contain our excitement! Landslides in the region prevented us from reaching the starting point for the gorilla group we were supposed to visit, however, so instead, we entered the forest in search of one of the newly habituated groups – Oruzogo.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was beautiful, peaceful, green and the air was fresh – we really felt it come to life. As we made our way up the slippery, steep trail, it started to rain (and my goodness, it didn’t stop!), but we were so hot from the climb, we all welcomed the downpour. It was certainly tough going, and with safari ants galore to contend with, we almost thought we wouldn’t make it, but the thought of coming face-to-face with the gorillas kept us going…
After a seven hour hike, we found ourselves deep in the gorge and it was here that we caught our first glimpse of the gorillas. They were a little shy, but close enough to spot a youngster swinging amongst the branches of a tree, a mother carrying her baby on her back and another munching on some bamboo – its dark, unblinking eyes resting upon us. We were somewhat startled when the Silverback started charging towards us, but as we had been instructed, we simply squatted down and waited for him to withdraw – which thankfully, he did!
We ate our picnic lunch in the forest and then began our return journey to camp. Despite falling over in the mud at least six times, we made it back for another very welcome shower, exhausted, but exhilarated.
Racheal Nakiwu & Joan Namuwulya
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