By Rosie Richardson
Seeing the Mountain Gorillas in the wild is truly a ‘bucket-list’ travel experience for many people.
There are only around 800 Mountain Gorillas left in the wild, all found in the thick jungle and mountains of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Not just anyone can go in search of these Gorillas in the wild. In Uganda, only 24 lucky travellers get the opportunity each day, and the $1000 gorilla permits (profits of which go to conservation efforts) sell out months in advance. I was lucky enough to secure one, and to go in search of these Gorillas earlier in November.
Please check out my short video I’ve made about my experience, by clicking here.
The mountains looked ominous in the morning mist. We were given a briefing before our trek, filled with jokes about what to do if we need the toilet, and not to take offence if our porter gives us a ‘regal push’ – a big push up the bottom to help us up the steep parts!
We then started the climb, up, up, up, through thick jungle, accompanied by an expert local Guide, a porter each to carry our bag and steady us, and 3 trackers carrying AK47s “just in case.”
As the Gorillas don’t stay in one place, a trek to find them could take 20 minutes, or it could take 8 hours. Luckily for us, we found them after an hour of climbing. Once found, there are strict rules dictating that you can only spend a precious 1 hour with these special primates.
And so we watched, standing only 1 – 2 metres away from these gentle giants, going about their daily business. Mum tending to child and young adults climbing trees and playing. Some just lounging around eating leaves and preening each other.
At one point we heard a muffled ‘roar’ from about 15 metres away. It was the big daddy, the Silverback, standing on his hind legs, giving an almighty roar and beating his chest. King Kong!
We had to stifle our chuckles as we watched a cheeky teenager climb a tree and move onto a spindly branch. The branch, not being able to hold his weight, came falling down, knocking me on the head, and sending the Gorilla toppling a few metres down the hill!
A few minutes later, the same cheeky chimp spotted some particularly tasty branches he wanted, with just one thing in his way, a pesky tourist! Not to worry, with his sights firmly set on the branches, he bowled the poor girl over, getting to his branches in no time!
These creatures are majestic, placid and really just like us and I was incredibly lucky to be one of the few people in the world to have seen the Gorillas in the wild.
If you’re interested in experiencing this for yourself, please get in touch with me.0