Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi!
Trip Start May 31, 2007
107Trip End May 20, 2008
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The endangered mountain gorillas can be found in Uganda, Rawanda and the DRC...Democratic Republic of Congo, not the most politically stable place in the world. Only a certain amount of permits are available at any given time and you are only allowed 1 hour with the gorillas to minimize the human impact on them.
Anyway, on my Gorillas and Chimps tour through Kenya and Uganda. Trekked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and as our guide put it: "Penetrated the Bush" to see the gorillas. English as a second language has its high points.
So after paying our $505 entry fee, we took a 2-wheel drive minivan, completely overloaded with gear and us up a slippery muddy dirt mountain road to get to the campground and National Park. It was by far the scariest ride I have been on to date...skidding around turns etc. It was terrifying and when I mentioned that to my guide, he said "Really"? Different cultures, different expectations of safetly I suppose. The drive back was much less interesting cause the road was dry. We arrived at our campground in the pouring rain, I upgraded to a room...really a small clean concrete enclosure with a bed, a window and a door. No electricity or amenities...but priceless considering I didn't have to deal with a muddy tent! Our showers consisted of buckets of water and long drop toilets...quite reasonable and clean. We have been used to peeing in the bush so this was just fine.
Hiked with the group down a steep dirt path past some local villages and local people, crossed a small stream and then we found the gorillas! The guides with us were in contact with the trackers who were following the trail of the gorillas. They do make an attempt to limit our trekking time so we actually get to see the gorillas during our visit.
The silverback male of the group caught my eye at first, he glanced our way and watched us for a bit then went back to his meal. We saw a few other females, some youngsters, and a blackback male just relaxing in the bush and eating. We weren't actually in the jungle so we had plenty of light to take pictures. They ignored us mostly but would ocasionally glance in our direction then lean their head back with a yawn and go back to what they were doing.
An experience that I will always remember...