Clients often ask us whether Uganda or Rwanda is the best destination, so I was really looking forward to the opportunity to do both in one trip, allowing me to directly compare the two experiences.
The Uganda Experience
After meeting a number of people fresh from their gorilla trekking experience I had received more than enough pointers about how difficult the the trek was going to be. Whilst confident in my fitness levels, I was beginning to get concerned about the level of difficulty I was going to encounter during this activity.
There is no doubt that the terrain where the gorillas are found is steep. Depending on their location and the family group you are going to visit, it can require a lot of cutting your way through the bush in order to create something resembling a path.
I was very relieved that the tales I had heard of it being extremely difficult did not apply to the family I was due to visit for this day. The Oruzogo group is located in Ruhija, north eastern Bwindi and while this required a drive of around 2 hours to get to the start point, the drive itself is stunning and offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains.
When you arrive at the meeting point you will meet your group for the rest of the day and your guides will go through some information relating to the family of gorillas you will be tracking for the day. Our hike started with a steep decent through the surrounding jungle but our guides set a relaxed pace and accommodated the slower members of the group. It is important to note that if the group is slightly slower it doesn't affect your trip as your allotted one hour with the gorillas will remain regardless of what time you arrive.
After about an hour and a half of making our way down the steep hills it was clear that the gorillas were up ahead as the tell-tale shaking of trees indicated there younger gorillas were playing in the branches. A few minutes later we reached the gorillas and after that is incredible how fast an hour can pass.
The young gorillas were climbing and then falling out of trees; a genuine pleasure to watch - I only wish it could have been longer.
The silverback proved more elusive during our visit to the Oruzugo family, he was there throughout but was difficult to see clearly. However, when the time came to leave he provided the most satisfying viewing of the day. As the rest of our group moved on to continue viewing the younger gorillas I decided to stay near the silverback to see if he decided to move. I managed to lie on my stomach and while looking through the bush you could clearly make out his face. While we thought he had been ignoring us, the whole time he had in fact been monitoring us quietly and confidently, we just didn't know it.