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Hanging with a baby gorilla!

Apr 25 • 8428 views • 11 Comments on Hanging with a baby gorilla! Adventure, Africa, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Conservation, gorillas, tourism experience, Uganda, UWA, wildlife

Have you ever wanted to go gorilla trekking in Uganda?

Despite working in conservation in Uganda for nearly three years, seeing the gorillas was never top of my wildlife wishlist – I still can’t get enough of Uganda safaris or birding in Uganda – but I have to say: today was very special. Here are the Muzungu’s reasons why gorilla trekking in Uganda should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

A gorilla peeks at us through the thick leaves of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking Uganda

A gorilla peeks at us through the thick leaves of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking Uganda

After an early start, and a briefing by our Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guide David, we trekked uphill through a small tea plantation and a field of bananas.

Briefing Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger Mountain gorilla trekking Bwindi Uganda

Briefing from Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger before our Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Uganda. Here we were shown photos to introduce us to the gorilla family members we were hoping to encounter

“But the other hills we can climb them seated” advised David, as we slid down a muddy hillside to the edge of the forest.

It was a typical misty Bwindi morning – it’s not called the Impenetrable (Rain)forest for nothing! Treks to find the gorillas vary; occasionally the gorillas are seen in the grounds of the lodges around Bwindi. Sometimes you may have to walk three, four or even five hours before you find them.

Mountain gorilla trekking Bwindi Uganda

Misty early morning start for our Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Uganda. The trek started with a walk through cultivated land

banana plantation. Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Uganda

More mist… climbing through the banana plantation. Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi, Uganda

Uganda Wildlife Authority guides Mountain gorilla trekking Bwindi Uganda

Our Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) guides helped us every step of the way. Here we slid down a steep slope and traversed a small stream

The walk through the countryside (one and a half hours in our case) was a big part of the thrill for me: would we turn a corner and find the gorillas right in front of us?

How would the gorillas react when they saw us?

And finally, in a dense section of the forest, clambering through the bushes, we met up with another group of UWA rangers who would show us where the group of 10 or more gorillas from the Habinyanja family were feeding and sleeping.

Silverback Mountain gorilla trekking Bwindi Uganda

Every gorilla trek is different. We saw the Silverback, although all we could see of him was a mere glimpse of silver grey fur through the foliage. This photo shows how difficult it can be to get a good photo in the dark forest…

None of the gorillas seemed at all perturbed by our presence, as we shuffled quietly from tree to tree, peering through the dark green of the forest to make out gorilla mothers’ suckling gorilla babies and young adults grooming each other, all just a few metres away from us. Even the Silverback gorilla, the often awesome male leader, slept through our entire visit (grunts notwithstanding).

But it was the smallest, youngest gorilla that stole the show….

Mountain gorilla trekking Bwindi Uganda

Can you spot the baby gorilla? … It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d see a Mountain Gorilla in the trees above my head!

Hanging out with the baby gorilla. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking Uganda

Effortlessly. Hanging out with the baby gorilla. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking Uganda

There was no chest thumping, we didn’t get charged at and there were no scenes of drama for the humans to witness on this particular morning.

Carefree.

Not to be ignored, the youngest gorilla of the group entertained us to an aerial display, dangling by one arm and pirouetting above us, eye-balling us with those beautiful big black eyes.

He seemed to share our fascination as we watched, transfixed. I’d trek Bwindi all over again, just to relive those few precious moments.

Baby gorilla Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking Uganda

This moment made the whole hike worth it. Hanging out with the baby gorilla. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Gorilla trekking Uganda

Next lifetime, I’m coming back as a Mountain Gorilla!

September 2013: With over 7 million views, this Uganda gorilla trekking video has been an internet sensation: showing one tourist having the type of wildlife experience we all dream of. Such moments are few and far between. They certainly can’t be manufactured, nor can these animals be coerced – and it just shows how gentle and inquisitive they truly are.

This wasn’t my first time in Bwindi meeting primates. Coming eye to eye with my totem – the Red-tailed Monkey – is a moment Nagawa (the Muzungu) will never forget!

Bwindi is heavenly. The air is pure. The height and age of the majestic trees are awe-inspiring. Before I came to Uganda, the revered mahogany was just something my great aunt’s table was made of, and now there they were growing tall ahead of me in the forest: century-old mahogany trees.

South western Uganda has become famous for gorilla trekking, but there are plenty more activities for tourists nowadays, including canoe trekking across Lake Mutanda, hiking the volcanoes of Mgahinga, golden monkey trekking, or hiking Bwindi. The day-long walk from Buhoma through the thick of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest south to Nkuringo is one of my favourite Ugandan expeditions.

Have you been gorilla trekking in Uganda? I’d love to read your experiences!

If you’re planning a trip to Uganda, feel free to contact the Muzungu or check out Diary of a Muzungu’s Ultimate Guide to Mountain Gorilla Trekking.

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11 Responses to Hanging with a baby gorilla!

  1. […] Gorilla trekking in Rwanda now costs $750 per person (prices increased June 2012). We didn’t trek the gorillas that week-end – although I’d love to have what I hear is quite a different experience to Muzungu in the Mist – gorilla trekking in Uganda. […]

  2. […] 14. Gorillas. I enjoyed the trek through the rainforest as much as meeting Bwindi’s Gentle Giants. […]

  3. […] only need to look at Uganda’s gorilla tourism and the way this single species has promoted Uganda internationally and helped fund other tourism […]

  4. Kwita Izina says:

    […] could say the whole world has been: someone from every country has trekked the gorillas in Rwanda. Gorillas are symbolic creatures and Rwanda is just […]

  5. […] Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, in the far south western corner of Uganda, is the ideal starting point for: hiking volcanoes, hikes across Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to Buhoma on the northern side of the Forest, walks to Lake Mutanda and journeys across the Lake by dugout canoe towards Kisoro, mountain biking and bird watching. It is also a great place to stay if you plan to track any of Uganda’s Nkuringo, Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye or Busingye gorilla families. […]

  6. […] could say the whole world has been: someone from every country has trekked the gorillas in Rwanda. Gorillas are symbolic creatures and Rwanda is just […]

  7. Alex Mango says:

    Amazing video and amazing snaps of baby Gorilla.
    I think it is really emotional which can’t be expressed in words

    I can only say that nothing is impenetrable like Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

  8. […] 4 o’clock, the sun now blazing, the Uganda Wildlife Authority Mountain gorilla looks tired. He looks like he could do with a nap and some bamboo. He’s running his own personal […]

  9. […] the gaze of one of the Mountain Gorillas. That was a great moment. I particularly enjoyed the trekking to find the gorillas. I could easily have spent a few days in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest just looking for them; I […]

  10. Nicholas Luboyera says:

    Great information about gorilla trekking.
    Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is one of the most memorable wildlife encounters in Africa, if not the world. Travellers often recount their experience as being highly emotional, moving and even life changing; seeing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat is a true privilege.

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