In the Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest in Uganda, you can find half of the world’s mountain gorillas. It is said that there are 800 left in total.
It is 4 AM and even though I am extremely tired, I am super excited and full of adrenaline just thinking of the day ahead of me. Because on this day, I will finally get to see the famous mountain gorillas and hopefully see a silverback as well!
This is what I thought on the day where I finally got to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda.
When going gorilla trekking, you’re divided into smaller groups with maximum 8 people. I ended up being in the group for the ‘young adults’, which are for the people with a better physical condition.
Based on the type of group you’re in, it’s tougher finding the mountain gorillas. I spoke with another group who had an elderly couple in it. They just went for a 1-hour walk and found the mountain gorillas instantly.
At 8 AM, every group has a briefing, where the guide explains how to behave in the jungle, what to expect and how much time the group has with the gorillas. You also get to know that no one knows how long time it takes until you have found them.
Earlier in the morning, there is a separate research group out in the jungle, who track the gorillas and will let your group know as soon as they have found them.
We started trekking at 9 AM and hadn’t heard from the local researcher until two hours later. We got to know that we would be there 40 minutes, and instantly our excitement rose. It suddenly felt like the mountain gorillas were so close!
Trekking in Bwindi is definitely not for everyone. I believe it was the toughets trek I ever had in my life. All the time, you either have to climb up the mountain and use the trees to get up. Or you have to get down, but it is so steep that you just slide down the mountain. You have no idea for how long you walk, and when it’s gonna end.
Suddenly, we were very close. We saw one small gorilla before it ran away and we had to walk half an hour until we found the family.
Our gorilla family was a very shy one, which meant that we had to “run after them” for around 2 hours, because they always just went away. This was due to them not being habituated for more than 2 years. After 2 years, they get used to humans and don’t care if you stand close to them and take pictures.
But once we found the family and saw them all rested while eating, we were able to enjoy the view of them. And being able to spend an entire hour with them was one of the most magical experiences in my entire life. Getting so close to them, you truly are able to see little behavioral details that remind you of yourself.
Today, it costs around 700 USD for one day of gorilla trekking in Uganda. It’s fairly cheap compared to Rwanda, where they recently increased the price to 1,500 USD.