Viewpoint in Uganda|© Ralph Turner

Gorilla Tracking in the Ugandan Rainforest

Natural World Safaris

Ralph Turner

21 Oct 2019

Gorilla Tracking in the Ugandan Rainforest

My son and I have just returned from a gorilla tracking trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda via Entebbe. It was a great trip and all the arrangements worked out fine. We were well looked after in Uganda and the accommodation was excellent; we particularly enjoyed Buhoma Lodge in Bwindi. Bwindi is an area of forested mountains that are covered in mist for most of the time. When we were there it rained heavily in the afternoons but the gorilla tracking started quite early, so we were back before the rain started. If you were unlucky you could be walking in very heavy rain, but as this is a tropical rainforest, it is to be expected.

Gorillas eating in Uganda|© Ralph Turner

Before you start tracking you receive a briefing from a senior ranger and watch a dance performed by local people. You are then split into groups of eight with a guide who tells you about the gorilla family you will be seeing, then you are driven to your start point. We started from a local village and initially the path was easy, going up a gentle slope. However, after leaving the village, the paths through the forest leading to the gorilla families became much steeper and rougher underfoot. Each group has trackers in the forest who guide the group by radio. When you are close to the gorillas you leave the path and clamber through virgin forest as the guides clear vegetation with a panga knife. This was very uneven terrain and difficult to walk on.

On our first day we were taken to a clearing and told to wait after seeing the gorilla family eating figs from a nearby tree. After a few minutes a family of 22 gorillas came down into the clearing and carried on feeding all around us. The silverback came quite close to us and it was an amazing experience to watch them. There were a few naughty babies: one fell out of a tree and was then picked up by his mother, while two had a fight next to the silverback who then chased them away for not showing enough respect.

Gorillas in Uganda |© Ralph Turner

The second day we hiked further up the mountain to see a family of seven. This family lived in thicker forest and so were not as easy to see, but it was still great to follow them into the dense forest. We also had some great views of the nearby mountains from the path higher up.

Gorilla and baby in Uganda |© Ralph Turner

The village we started from was about 5000 ft above sea level and I was breathing faster than I would have expected from hiking at lower altitudes, but it was not extremely arduous and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to do it. You can also hire a porter who will carry your bag and help you over the difficult bits. I did not use one the first day and I managed quite happily, but I did take one on the second day because I thought it was a good thing to provide work for a local person. Tourism has got to be good for the local people. In summary this was a great experience that I would recommend.

Chimpanzee, Uganda

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View our Uganda safaris, or talk to one of our specialists for more details on travelling to Uganda. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.

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