I Went For Gorilla Trekking
Hello! My Tribe,
I am in Uganda and had an experience of a lifetime that I wanted to share with you. When I got invited to visit Uganda by my dear friend Shamira Mitha who owns Verve, a boutique PR and marketing agency based in Dubai, I took no time to say yes. I had no idea what to expect but always excited to visit a new country I got on to a flight and landed in Entebbe.
I stayed a few days in Kampala (more about Kampala will be in my blog soon that I will share with you) and then drove down to Bwindi for an indescribable experience of my life.
Almost an 11 hours drive from Kampala, took me to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Checked into Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge. Woke up early morning to start the Gorilla trek. The Trek is conducted under the supervision of park rangers.
Treks set out daily. Rangers keep park HQ informed by radio of the gorilla’s whereabouts, so sightings are virtually guaranteed. After an obligatory briefing, I was assigned to a group of eight trekkers, plus guides and porters. Each group is allocated to a particular gorilla troop. Mine was Christmas troop, headed by a silver back Gorilla who was born on a Christmas day. The trek, including an hour with the gorillas, may take anything from three to nine hours, depending on the location of the troop. The trek is definitely not for the faint hearted and it demands a certain level of fitness to take this on. This is what I wore during our hike:
• Waterproof Hiking Boots
• Thin, Water Resistant Pants
• Sweat Proof / Water Resistant Long-Sleeve Shirt
• A Waterproof Wind/Rain Jacket
Overall, I wanted my skin to be covered for protection from bugs and thorns and the elements.
We walked for almost 4.5 hours through beautiful terrain in dense undergrowth at altitude and steep, slippery and muddy trails for an encounter of a lifetime…an encounter with the last of the wild mountain Gorillas.
Nothing prepares you for the intensity of the encounter. Our guide explained the rules. We had to keep quiet, be still and preserve a distance of seven meters – although there’s nothing to stop the apes from approaching you. Generally, nothing much happens. We were there there for an hour. The privilege of observing an extraordinary animal close-up is indescribable. One hour is not enough, but it is an hour that I will remember for the rest of my life.
These severely endangered animals are being pushed into extinction by humans.
About 800+ of these great apes remain in the wild, according to the most recent census. The biggest threats come from political instability, human encroachment, and forest degradation.
The world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in three countries spanning four national parks—Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park.
Adult male gorillas weigh up to 440 pounds and can reach a height of six feet when standing on two legs. Mature male gorillas are known as “silverbacks” for the white hair that develops on their back at about 14 years of age.
Gorillas move around in family groups that can range from a couple of individuals to more than 40 members. A dominant male leads and holds the position for years.
Charismatic and intelligent animals, gorillas share 98.3% of their DNA with humans. They are our closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos.
How can YOU help Gorillas from going extinct?
By visiting the mountain gorillas in the wild through organized gorilla treks, tourists contribute to their continued survival within the forests. Though the governments of the host countries and conservation organizations have tried to protect the mountain gorillas, a lot is still needed to ensure sustainability and the full protection of these great apes. After your trek, there are a lot of things that you can do to help promote gorilla conservation.
Over the past 20 years, tourism has been the most successful tool for protecting gorillas. Local people have now widely embraced gorilla tourism as a form of additional income. Tourism has also created jobs for the locals as well as generating direct revenue from the sale of goods or provision of services such as guiding, transportation, and more.
Anything adventurous like this doesn’t come easy to me, I am more a luxury kinda girl than hiking and camping. But I am so glad that I swapped my Louboutin for my hiking shoes and went on this adventure of a lifetime.
I so highly recommend this, with your family, children and friends. I promise you, this is an experience that will stay with you forever, after all life is made of moments and experiences like these, that introduces you to a new world outside and inside of you.
Love and Health