Uganda…much has happened but I shall divide this into sections, this one is all about Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. And Mzungu well that’s the word for European or white person in these parts.
The border crossing to Uganda from Western Tanzania was the easiest and most straight forward crossing in some time. Granted the original border I was hoping to use no longer exists and I had to add 4 additional hours and hundreds of KM to get there but it was all good. The goal was to make it to Mbarara so that I would make it to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Bush Lodge Campsite by the next day to prepare for the Gorillas.
I found a rather posh hotel in Mbarara, a treat for myself with a hot shower and good food. Sometimes a nice bed and shower are necessary. Had I know about the road ahead I would not have felt as guilty. The ride along Lake Bunyoni to get to Kabale and then to Muko to connect with the tarmac for a wee bit and get across to Bwindi NP conjured images of Chizarira. Luckily it was only for a about an hour. The tarmac was wonderful, but short lived, as I turned off to head to Bush Lodge. Up into the valley with the mist and hilltop farm lands.
Around the campsite I was amazed by the plethora of birds and the Colobus Monkey’s. The view was stunning. The hike up to the room and the restaurant was good training for the Gorilla hike a day later. So let’s start with the birds and the Colobus monkey’s. A little anticipation is good for y’all.
Bwindi means impenetrable so it’s really Impenetrable Impenetrable Forest. There are 808 mountain gorillas left in the world according to the last census from last year (2015). Up from the 700’s about 10 years ago. They all share the border with Uganda, Rwanda and DRC. Uganda has the largest population of mountain gorillas. There are many lowland gorillas that are often mistaken for the mountain gorillas.
The morning of the trek I was excited and filled with some trepidation. Once you arrive at the park you get sorted, no sorting hat, into groups by the guides. Each group has a guide, 2 trackers and an armed guide to scare of crazy elephants. Some walks are 40 minutes others are hours. I was placed in the Kahungye group. First thing we get back into the cars and drive 20 minutes away. Weird, the other groups started right there. Have a funny feeling I’m going to be hiking for hours. And then we start the ascent. It’s hot and humid and the sweat just pours off you. I have yet to be so fully drenched in my own sweat. And yes it was up hill mostly for over 2 hours. We had a great group. 7 of use. The american’s name I can’t remember but he took off quickly on the way back to get to the DRC. The remainder we had the youngin’s at the front, leading the charge. That included Antonia, Dominic, Pascal and Evika. Sorry if I misspelled anyones name. Then the senior citizens in the back sweating to the oldies. That was myself, Dolly and her husband Stephen. A great group. We encouraged ourselves on and we did it. Yay Dolly! After making it to the area where the gorillas were we unloaded and just grabbed our cameras. I switched to a smaller lens as we are so close. Now I need to mention one small factoid. Half way I thought I had dropped my cellphone when I slid a wee bit after stepping on what I thought was solid ground. Nothing I could do, it was gone, hopefully we find it on the way back or maybe I left it in the car. Either way gorillas! Please enjoy I took hundreds of photos, no really, here are some of the favourites.
They puled me in front of this silverback or that one and it was amazing. The trackers and our guide did a phenomenal job we had such an epic siting they were even taking pictures.
The family has 3 silverbacks I think. This was the first one we met.
The hike was hard but so worth it. It is one of the best experiences I have had to date and worth every penny of the very expensive permit. Would do it again all in a minute. Beyond amazing. This group has some 19+ gorillas and we hung out with 10+. Meters away. Unreal.
Pascal and Evika joined me at the lodge and we headed to the same destination. Queen Elizabeth NP is next, sort of…Oh and the cell phone, left the stupid thing in the car charging.