The goal of our recent trip to Uganda was to see gorillas. These great endangered animals are hard to reach and on a dream-list of many travelers. And on our as well. On a cold day in March in a lecture about the gorillas in an adventure fair in Stockholm, far far away from the mountains of Uganda we decided that we will go. Soon. And we found a trip with a company that we already travelled with previously, Nomad.
Few months passed and finally we were back in Africa. I will describe the entire trip in another post, now it’s special time for the gorillas. The place that we were going to see them was in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The time was decided to be July 11:th. The previous day we were divided in groups. I was supposed to go with a group to see the Mishaia family and Jany with another group to the Kahungye family. Since another couple was split as well, we decided to switch and I moved to Jany’s group. I was hoping for a short and easy trek.
Early in the morning we got up, got in the cars and went up in the mountains. Driving in the mist, watching a wonderful sunrise, we went up, higher and higher. Finally we got to the forest. We had a short briefing of the day, registration and were told that the trek can take about 2 hours if we are lucky and 8 if we are not so lucky, but the chance to see the gorillas is about 99%. Fair enough. I hoped for 2 hours. We were also told that we can get porters in the beginning of the trek. The backpacks are maybe light now, but the weight increases during the day, or it feels like it.
And we went to the starting point. There were eight people in our group. And the porters. And I hired one. My pride said no, some part of my logical mind said yes, so I did. His name was Godson and he was a really nice guy.
We started. And up a hill we went. Up, up, in the sun, step by step on the red ground. Step by step, higher and higher. The sun was already warm and strong, even if the time was about 8:30 in the morning. The views were wonderful and the mood high. I was thankful for this opportunity, I was thankful for the porter and I was hoping for short and easy trek.
After a little more than one hour we reached the trees and the forest. This is the jungle. This is the famous impenetrable forest. And here are the gorillas. Soon. The rangers lead the way and there was also a ranger behind us, to lead the way, ro find the gorillas and the way back and to scare other wild animals. There are more gorilla families in the forest, there are chimpanzees, elephants and many more creatures that are not used to human being.Good to know.
In the beginning it was easy to walk. After another hour or so the forest got thicker, denser, we went up, we went down and we went up again and down again. Steep, very steep. The trekking got harder. Every step was harder than the one before. The roots that we walked on were huge, the branches heavy and the bushes thicker and thicker. And the time passed quickly. A few times the guides screamed “Ants, run!” and we did. The ants were huge, didn’t care if we had nice clothes, they bit. And they bit really hard. One sucker got into my shoe and bit me in the foot a few times before it died, it hurt.
After about four hours we reached the place were the gorillas were hiding. The first one scared the shit out of Jany and a woman that trekked in front. And a little bit later the silverback jumped out from the bushes in front of me and made me jump up, high as a Masai. Almost. The feeling of seeing that amazing creatures, so much alike us is not possible to describe.
Just imagine a huge gorilla, over 200 kilos, easily climbing the trees, easily swinging himself from branch to brach, almost trying to show off. Maybe in some ways we are superiour, but in many ways we are not.
The hour spent with the gorillas passed very quickly. There is one hour limit, I could stay there a lot longer, but that’s the rule and I understand it.
Now the way back started. The very same way that we arrived, now it was time to go back. Now the up-and-down-parts became down-and-up. The jungle was as dense, the ants as huge and the way as long. It felt longer. After getting up the first, and worst hill we stopprd for lunch. I was too tired to eat, so I gave my lunch sandwiches to my porter. I know, the energy is vital and I gave it away. I had an energy bar instead. After the short stop we continued. Up ans down and more up. Somehow I managed to put one leg in front of the other, my porter helping me, Jany as well.
It started to rain. Nice, cooling rain. The way in the jungle became wet, muddy and slippery, which didn’t make the trekking easier. The dark in the jungle seems to come early and we were supposed to get out of the forest before the dark. Somehow we did it! The last part was on the hill, going down, on a very muddy, slippery path. Not easy at all. Finally we were down. We actually did it! The time was just after 6 pm and we were back were we started the same morning. We got diplomas and took some last photos and… had to walk few more steps to the cars that took us back to the camping at lake Buyoni.
What an adventure!
Bwindi and Impenetrable National Park became world heritage in 1994. Link to the site.
My grade for this site is undoubtfully five out of five.