Gorilla Trekking

Trip Start Apr 27, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Brad and I awoke at 550am to one of our tripmates banging on our tent saying we were leaving in 10 minutes.  Apparently both our ipod alarms failed... ughhhh. Eight of us piled into the 7-seater van and took off on the 2.5 hour journey that probably could have been done in 30 minutes if not for the awful roads.  The other 6 on the truck went two days later as they only let 8 people see the gorillas per day.

We arrived at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Ranger Station, picked a walking stick and had a quick briefing with our guide before we all took off on the trek, being led and trailed by a couple guards with AK47s.  In 1999 Rwandan rebels came over the border and into the park and killed 8 tourists and a few employees.  I'd forgotten that story and thankfully wasn't reminded about it ntil after our trek.  Turns out poachers and charging elephants are the bigger issues these days, at least according to the guard that I asked.  Anyway, we took off under the guidance of a few trackers who were about an hour ahead of us.  They start by hiking to the location that the gorillas were seen yesterday, then track them from there.  Sometimes it can take a full day to find them but we only needed a couple hours. The initial hike was on an established track but as we neared the gorilla group we were simply moving straight through the forest, over ridges and down into valleys through the dense bush.

When we first arrived I was a little disappointed as the gorillas were all in the trees and the lighting was pretty bad so I couldn't really get the amazing photos I was hoping for.  After awhile I realised I should put the camera away and just take in the whole experience... it was truly amazing.  Watching the dominant silverback was wicked.  He'd snap off a branch as if it were nothing.  The highlight came near the end of our hour when he decided it was time to leave and came scrambling down the tree trunk about 20 feet in front of us.  Thankfully he chose to move off in the opposite direction.

The hike back was uneventful but still pretty cool as the scenery was absolutely beautiful.  Overall it was an extremely expensive day, but given that the gorillas and surrounding communities rely so heavily on the money, I was very happy to have done it.

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Mom on

Smart move on putting the camera down and just enjoying the moment. There are so many times that you miss what's happening because you're too intent on getting a great shot. Glad you got a few good pictures but glad that you really enjoyed the experience.

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