Unforgettable gorilla trekking in Uganda

This is a guest post.

For many travellers, a tour or holiday to Africa is a new and exhilarating experience; embracing alien cultures, witnessing strange and beautiful lands and meeting fascinating and insightful people. Such a trip can mark the culmination of many years of postulating, planning and daydreaming and without any sense of cliché can very really represent the trip of a lifetime.

 With this in mind defining what to do and more specifically where to go on an African adventure is of great importance and with such inexhaustible natural and cultural diversity the decision can be a rather challenging one.

Personally though, as an encounter that seems to epitomise the beauty, wilderness, heart and soul of this region and that stands alone as a seminal and for many even life changing moment; Mountain Gorilla trekking through the jungles of Eastern and Southern Uganda is an unrivalled experience. Respectfully immersing yourself into the mysterious world of these inspiring and mesmerising creatures promises a sense of awe and wonderment unmatched by anything else.

Uganda is a country that has, as most will no doubt be aware, suffered a rather turbulent recent history and where for a time war and unrest threatened to engulf and pollute the entire nation.

However today Uganda is a land in transition; a largely undiscovered and verdant corner of Africa that for an ever growing band of discerning travellers has rewarded enthusiasm with warmth, magnificence, spirit and charm.

Without doubt the most renowned home of the endangered Mountain Gorilla in Uganda is the aptly named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, nestled in the south west of the country straddling the Congolese border. It is not until you approach the prehistoric landscape that makes up this conservancy that you realise exactly why it deserves its famous moniker. The deep river gorges and high mountain ridges, blanketed in dense green foliage have for millions of years asserted the forest as a sanctuary for an incredible range of plants, animals and birds; including 90 mammal species, 350 species of birds, and over 200 different types of tree as well as, most critically, over half of the entire world’s population of Mountain Gorillas.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when embarking on a gorilla trekking tour is that, like with any safari holiday, there are no guarantees. These are after all wild and unfettered animals capable of roaming deep into the heart of the jungle or just as equally comfortable gathering within metres of the park entrance. Experienced guides will endeavour to trace the movements of the numerous families of primates that inhabit the forest and realistically there is always a good chance of encountering these beguiling creatures.

Of course as aforementioned these are wild and powerful animals and therefore the park does try to enforce several common sense rules regarding interaction with the gorillas including not using flash on digital cameras, refraining from eating or smoking around the gorillas and leaving a distance of at least 5 metres from them at all times. Children below the age of 15 are not allowed to enter the park as a safety precaution as well as anyone suffering from contagious illnesses such as flu or diarrhoea which can be contracted by the gorillas.

A Mountain Gorilla trekking experience can of course be combined with a wider safari tour of Uganda, taking in sights such as the capital city of Kampala and the popular Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo National Parks as well as the colossal Lake Victoria. The best months to visit Uganda are often regarded as being from December-March and June-September periods that generally reside either side of the two discernable rainy seasons.

This is a guest post.

1 Comment

  1. Gorilla trekking takes place in south western Uganda only (not in eastern Uganda), a corner of the world shared by the Congo and Rwanda; hence you can see the gorillas in any of the three countries. As for the likelihood of seeing them, the gorillas are continuously tracked and monitored, for their protection from poachers, by Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers carrying radios. Thus, when you leave base camp, rangers will radio their colleagues to find out where the gorillas nested the previous night. It’s usually a 1 to 3 hour trek to find the gorillas, occasionally shorter, sometimes longer, and you have over 90% chance of seeing them. It’s a wonderful experience.

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