Woke up at 6:30 this morning with breakfast at 7:00. Went ahead and had a nice big breakfast to have plenty of energy for trekking. No telling when lunch is coming. Make sure you have the proper boots as well as some long sleeve shirts, a hat, even gloves to make the trip though the forest a bit more pleasant. We took off with our gear, 2 liters of water and a pack lunch at 7:45 and met our guides at the briefing site. 3 groups leave daily each with a guide and two soldier escorts. They also provide walking sticks should you need one. Again, porters are highly recommended. Not only do they carry any gear you may have, they give you a hand whenever you need one and literally help pull you up and down the mountain. It is almost inevitable that you will fall and get muddy so don’t worry too much when it happens. The footing can get slippery and steep in a hurry. The forest, known as the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, lives up to its name. Much thicker than the areas we did the chimp trekking in and much more elevation change. Temperature was mild luckily and the density of the forest provides almost constant shade. Very early in the morning, before we are awake, guides are sent into the forest to locate the area where the gorilla families nested the night before. From there they radio the location and begin to track them. This system allows the paying client the best possible chance at catching up with the gorillas in the least amount of time. It will still take quite a few hours though, our trek lasted 2 which is probably on the lower side of the average so we got fairly lucky. Once spotted, we are allowed 1 hour to view the gorillas, exactly the same as the chimps. The first glimpse of one was up in a tree and you could really see the tree shaking. Before we knew it a mother and her child were walking by on the ground. We followed another one who led us to the whole family, which was leisurely moving through the forest snacking on leaves and napping intermediately. The whole experience is almost indescribable and was easily the top safari experience of my life. Jason actually got a “playful” tap on the leg by one rambunctious young male. Seeing the little ones beat their chests in imitation of their older family members was spectacular. They are all very calm and your presence normal to them because they are located and visited every single day without exception. This was the highlight of the trip without doubt and a fantastic life experience.
The Silverback, although he looks harmless in this photo.
This young one was about as curious of us as we were of him.
The juveniles beating their chests, trying to get us to play along with them. No thanks!
Hiking back to the briefing site took about an hour and a half. Images of the gorillas keep your mind occupied making it more easily bearable. Once we got back we sat down and tore into our pack lunches while our guide Florence (the first female ranger in Bwindi) gave us our final debriefing as well as certificates with our names and the date. After a nice siesta back in camp we visited the local orphanage where they put on a great performance for us and a couple other guests.
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