Brief Description of the Mountain Gorillas
The mountain Gorillas are an endangered species and they are estimated at 650 in the world, straddling the Democratic Republic of Congo/Rwanda/ Uganda boarders.
These are the largest of the primates with a massive build, powerful muscle structure, large head with low forehead and small ears. The arms are longer than the legs, and the back slopes down from the shoulders to the rump. The belly is large, with the appearance of a ‘beer paunch’. The coat is black to grayish-black and adult males have a broad, whitish-silver ‘saddle’ on the back, its extent varying in the different races. Three races, or subspecies, are currently recognized: the western lowland gorillas, the eastern low land Gorillas and the mountain gorillas. Mountain Gorillas live in groups of two to a recorded maximum of 37 individuals.
Nestled down in the south west of the country, on the edge of the Western Rift Valley this 331km² of mountain rainforest is the only forest in Africa where gorillas and chimpanzees occur together. In addition to the gorillas and chimps this ancient rainforest - one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age (making it over 25,000 years old) - is home to several other mammals (approx. 92 species) as well as roughly 360 species of bird.
Your time here is unforgettable one.
Day 1: Kampala-Bwindi
Leave Kampala by road and head south-West to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The 530km journey will take us approximately 8.5 hours drive and because of the scenery that we enjoy along the road, we will not feel the eight hours travel.
A few minutes from Kampala, we will make a stop over at the Equator to take photos and do a little shopping at the Crafts place and an experiment at the Center, North and South Pole of the Equator. Have lunch in the calm town of Mbarara and proceed through the verdant countryside with rolling green hills and the highlands, well known as the “Switzerland of Uganda”.
We will pass traditional homesteads and have scenic views of the surroundings. Our road will then head even higher to where you can see the triangular peaks of the Virunga volcanoes of Rwanda and the Congo. We then drop down into a valley, to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of the mountain gorilla. While here, you will start to enjoy one of the world’s most serene mountain rainforests where man meets and interacts with un-interrupted nature. We will arrive at Bwind in the evening.
Dinner and overnight at Gorilla Resort camp (Classic) or Buhoma Community Bandas (Budget).
Day 2: Gorilla Trek
After an early hearty breakfast to give you the strength you need for the D-DAY - we report to the Rangers Station before 8:00 am for registration and a briefing by park officials. This is one of the most exhilarating and moving wildlife experiences you can have. Normally you get very close to these giant primates, observing them observing you. Their almost human movements, innate dignity and social interaction make a unique connection for everyone fortunate enough to have this experience. The trek to find gorillas can be quite short, but on most days an hour or two or three of rough hiking each way is necessary. Dress warmly, as the weather can be cool at this altitude. The guides stay on the trails until close to the troop, then cut trail to get close. As you get closer to the troop, the guides will point out signs that lead them straight to the gorillas. The rangers might show you some wild celery or some giant blackberries that the gorillas love. They definitely will show you the different species of stinging nettles that the gorillas eat, but warn you not to grab hold of a stinging nettle. When you are very close, the guides will tell you to leave your bags and take only your cameras.
The lead guide will edge forward grunting as he goes to announce your arrival to the group so as not to startle the gorilla. Normally the silverback is lying in thick vegetation lazily watching. One or more females are often close by and are unperturbed by your appearance. Your guides will take you through the undergrowth, parting thick creepers, to track the gorillas by cutting a path through the tangle of vegetation to try to see them. Frequently they are in open glades, which makes photography very rewarding. One of the most entertaining experiences is to watch the young Mountain Gorillas having a great time, play fighting, climbing trees and wrestling. The hour of viewing will pass very quickly.
This is a rewarding safari when you finally sit in the forest among the gorillas, listening to them grumble and have fun with each other, and marvel at the sheer size of the dominant male; the silverback. It is an extraordinary feeling sitting in the dense rainforest knowing you are with a few of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the ENTIRE WORLD. The adventure of spending time with and scrutinizing these gentle giant gorillas is a peculiar, moving, awesome and exciting adventure that will leave you with long lasting reminiscences of a truly unique experience. The gorillas are introverted and peaceful animals and it is an unforgettable experience to watch and photograph them as they play and interact. This may happen once to ones lifetime. Our guests are therefore, advised to maximize the time to shoot as many pictures as possible. It’s amazing to think there are only about 650 of these beautiful creatures left and half of the population is located on the Ugandan side!
If you have the energy this afternoon, take a guided walk on the Munyaga River trail, which is an ideal short walk. This trail leads to three delightful crystal clear waterfalls, and there is a profusion of tree ferns, epithytic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colorful array of butterflies. Here you may also see birds and primates from the forest edge. OR You may also choose to have the afternoon free, and just interact with people in the village around the Park and listen to stories of how Ugandans on this side live.
After either of the above, we head back to our hotel and have dinner and Overnight at Gorilla Resort Camp (Classic) or Buhoma Community Bandas (Budget)
Day 3: Bwindi – Kampala
After a morning breakfast, we will return back to Kampala stopping in Mbarara for lunch en-route.
Dinner and overnight at The lodge.