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Africa Geographic Travel

Written by: Usha Harish

Gorilla tracking is one the most adventurous and special experiences that you can ever have. Recently I had the opportunity to visit the gorillas in the Buhoma sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for the third time!

silverback-gorilla-of-mubare-family bwindi-impenetrable-national-park

In Uganda, it is a wonderful nine-hour journey from Kampala to Bwindi by road, crossing the equator and travelling through lush green countryside, agricultural farms and villages. As you head towards Bwindi, you get a sight of the truly impenetrable forest in the Virunga mountain range.

route-to-bwindi-national-park

There are many nice places to stay in the Buhoma sector and, after a good night’s sleep, we reached the briefing point at the national park at 8am, where the friendly Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers explained the rules of tracking and shared details about the members in the gorilla family that the group has been assigned.

briefing-point-gorilla-tracking

The Buhoma sector has three gorilla families, which are habituated to humans. The family names are the Habinyanja, Rushegura and Mubare groups, and I am proud to have seen all three lovely gorilla families.

female-mountain-gorilla

The silverback is the dominant alpha male in the family and reminds me of King Kong. It is always wonderful to watch gorillas while they eat the surrounding vegetation, tree bark and sometimes termites. During my third visit, I was lucky enough to see baby gorillas as well!

silverback-gorilla-of-habinyanja-fly baby-gorilla

Seeing is believing and it’s an amazing experience to visit these Critically Endangered primates. Each time that I have been gorilla tracking has been unique, as I have done the easy trek of just one hour as well as one of the most difficult treks of six hours. But no matter how long the hike, it’s a blissful feeling when you see the gorillas.

siverback-gorilla-of-mubare-fly

Here are some important tips and tricks that should help you if you decide to head off on this adventure of a lifetime:

1. Pack a rain jacket, gloves, gumboots, long sleeve shirts and trousers. The vegetation is wild and thorny as you climb the hill, and you’ll enjoy the odd river crossing so you’ll want to be covered!

river-crossing-rwanda rushegura-silverback-gorilla

2. If you love photography, I’d recommend bringing two camera bodies and a wide-angle lens. A 70-200 mm f2.8 aperture lens is also useful to have as a result of the low light conditions. I also always carry a smartphone to use as a point-and-shoot camera for quick photos and videos.

3. Take a porter from the briefing point – they are very helpful if the trek gets difficult and, by hiring their services, you are also helping to support the community.

4. In most cases guests will head back to the lodge for lunch but it’s worth carrying water and some fruits or a packed lunch with you too.

5. Make the most of your time by taking pictures and videos, but also remember to take everything in through your own eyes and not just your camera lens.

Read more about mountain gorillas:Africa’s Great Apes

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