Written by: Thomas
In the previous post (part 1), I talked about how we came to choose Uganda as the place for gorilla trekking. This post talks about exactly how the day went as we tracked the Bikingi gorilla family.
As I mentioned previously, we booked our gorilla trekking experience with Churchill Safaris. We stayed at Gorilla Safari Lodge near the entrance of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. We had an early start to the day, ate breakfast around 6am, and then headed out with our driver, Charles, to the bottom of the national park where we met our team of 4 trackers, 2 armed rangers, and our porter. By the way, highly recommend hiring a porter. He helped us carry our packed lunches, and about 3L of water — without him we never would have made it. So the 9 of us piled into our safari van and Charles drove us to the base of the forest. With our safari hats on, and pants tucked into socks to prevent creepy crawlers getting in, and walking sticks in our hands, we were ready.
The beginning of the trek was not so bad as there was a real trail. We started climbing uphill at a quick Ugandan pace and we thought “That’s it? This isn’t so bad”. Famous last words. Really soon after that we reached some pretty steep hills and got out of breath pretty quickly, and then suddenly we came to a point where there was no more trail, and the head tracker advised us to put on our gloves, as we were going to start heading into the bush. Sh*t just got real.
As we headed deeper and deeper into the forest, we were climbing and crawling on our hands and knees, and slipping and sliding on our butts during the downhills. There were prickly bushes that we held on to, and we were so glad to have brought gloves.
About 3 hours after entering the forest, we reached a point where we saw the gorilla nests from the previous night, and then soon after that we got our first glimpse at the silverback from maybe 10-15 metres away.
Since the Bikingi family is just being habituated, they were not that used to seeing humans and kept moving uphill as we got closer. We ended up seeing a family of 21, including several babies. It felt surreal the whole time.
After spending approximately 4 hours with the gorillas, our time in the forest came to an end, and just as quick as we met them we had to say goodbye to our new friends. It took about the same time to get back out, and (un)lucky for us it started pouring just as we were close to the finish line.
Our driver was there to meet us at the entrance of the park, and took us back to Gorilla Safari Lodge where we slept like babies for the night.