Wondrous Wildlife Sightings in Uganda

Delia Jones Siegenthaler

27 Oct 2017

An awe-inspiring walk into the wild

We knew that our trip to Uganda would be really special, but nothing could have prepared us for the breathtaking variety of beauty, the lush green of the vegetation and the unique animal encounters that we had. What struck us about the Kazinga boat cruise was the range of animals and birds together in one place. Hippos in the foreground, flocks of pelicans and storks near the shore, then kobs (the delicate graceful antelopes) and finally elephants emerging unexpectedly and majestically from the undergrowth to bathe in the river.

The intimacy of the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park was really special, and we spent an hour on top of our vehicle quietly chatting to our driver as a herd of elephants advanced from the distance towards us in the setting sun. During that hour we didn’t see a soul apart from the wildlife.

The tree-climbing lions are absolutely captivating as they manage to loll with both indolence and dignity in the trees, their gaze directed towards the horizon or their heads heavily resting on their giant pillowed paws. When the wind stirs up and the storm approaches, they descend with careful delicacy so as not to slip from the high branches. Other amazing scenes in this park were the dance of the crested crane (the national bird of Uganda) and a mother buffalo with her newborn calf anxiously seeking out the herd, to return to safety in numbers.

But the climax of the trip was definitely the gorilla tracking. We were so appreciative of the work of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, whose workers have spent four years making daily visits to gorilla families so that their trust becomes such that we were able to watch, mesmerised, as a mother gorilla fed and cuddled her baby of just two weeks, only a couple of metres away from us.

On the first day of tracking we watched a giant silverback mating and then feeding, completely tolerant of our discreet presence. His expression was so peaceful and wise that it was impossible to feel afraid. Apparently, according to our guide, he is the most laidback of the silverbacks in Bwindi Forest!

The second day of tracking was when we had the enormous privilege of watching the mother gorilla and her baby, the fluffy youngsters rolling around together near her, the adolescents occasionally joining in the romp and the older females resting beneath the trees, quietly observing all the activity. The dominant silverback called to the group at the end of our hour, as if he knew that our time was up, and off they all went into the dense jungle, leaving us deeply moved, almost to tears, at the scene we had just witnessed.

Watch Delia’s video below for more stunning photos and some intimate footage shot amongst a band of gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

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