Gorillas in Uganda: "Nothing less than two fantastic experiences!"

Jens Binderup

18 Oct 2019

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NWS Client Jens Marvels at the Bwindi Gorilla Family

Having had mountain gorillas on the bucket list for some time, a chance to “visit” them came in the fall of 2019. We booked well in advance and thanks to David from NWS – who recommended we divide the two visits we planned - we got the chance to visit a family group in the Bwindi Impenetrable Rainforest,Uganda as well as the first habituated family group from 1992 at Mgahinga. This turned out to be a very successful decision, and two very different experiences! 

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On the first day at Bwindi we had a thorough briefing, and then off our group went into the rainforest along a nice little trail. The rangers who follow the different gorilla families stay with them until sunset in order to be able to find them again relatively easily the next morning. Our guides were in radio contact with the rangers tracking “our” family. After an hour of walking we left the trail and started climbing in dense rainforest on a pretty steep hill. Pangas/machetes were used to cut a path in the dense vegetation, a very exciting experience in itself. Our heavy breathing was accompanied by the grunts of blue and colobus monkeys in the treetops, some of them within sight.

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All of a sudden three smiling rangers welcomed us and nodded upwards - the whole family group were “waiting” another 10 metres higher in the terrain. One female and then the young; a seven-month-old, a very curious baby and a two-year-old youngster who was very playful! Later the rest of the family joined, including the dominant silverback. All went on with their eating, grooming, playing and thinking deep thoughts, as if we were not there – so lovely to see! There was a lot of chit-chat on the way down – “did you see him do… what a cute baby…” – and so on!

This picture is taken just after her two-year-old fell down from a tree. My comment to her face can only be: ‘Oh my god – teenagers!’

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The next day at Mgahinga was different as the terrain and vegetation was more open, which gave us better photo opportunities. The group held untraditionally three silverbacks, and we saw them all! The whole group was active while we were there; the youngster was breast-fed, one of the silverbacks was groomed by one of the females, a teenager was trained in climbing trees – not very successfully though - it was very funny to watch! The rest of the family moved slowly around to find the most delicate leaves. While we were watching they sometimes passed us pretty closely without taking any notice of us.

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Nothing less than two fantastic experiences!

The trip started with a good briefing about the trip and safari shortly after arriving at our lodge in Entebbe, and ended with a debriefing in the same place to check if everything went okay. Very professional!

The lodge – Chameleon Hill Lodge – near Bwindi was nothing but a pearl, located some five to six hundred metres above Lake Mutanda with an astonishing view over the seventeen islands, and with three volcanoes in the background. The lodge had friendly, welcoming staff and a good guide, a walk to experience the colorful birdlife, good food and was also just a nice place to relax after the gorilla trekking.

Massage is also an option, if you feel the need!

Talk to one of our specialists for further details on travelling to Uganda.

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