Gorillas in the River

After Tanzania it was on to Kenya where we visited Nairobi and did some more wildlife spotting.

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Then it was on to Uganda and Kalinzu Forest Reserve. We went on a walk to see the chimps, but the most I saw was a faraway blurry black shape in the trees for a couple of seconds. We had some baboon visitors to our camp site though.

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Fortunately the gorilla trek at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was more successful. Permits to see the gorillas are expensive ($600 US), but it turned out to be the highlight of my Africa trip and one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. Tourists are divided into groups of 8 and assigned a gorilla family that has been habituated to human visitors. A couple of trackers set out ahead of the group and go to the location where the gorillas where the previous day, follow their trails and then radio back their location. We had a couple of guides with us and a couple of guards armed with machine guns (due to the threat of poachers and encountering other wild animals. Eight foreign tourists were killed in the forest by rebels in 1999).

Since the gorillas move around you don’t know how long the trek will take, but we were warned to prepare for a long walk and to bring plenty of water.

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It took us 3 hours of walking through the forest, climbing up steep hills and crossing creeks, but we made it to our gorilla friends. They were moving around a lot and with the vegetation, it was difficult to get good photos of them, but it was wonderful to be so close to them. There was a silverback, a couple of females and a three-year-old baby. At one point the baby ran up and touched the knee of one of the girls in our group. We also saw two of the adults mating. The baby jumped on the back of the silverback while this was going on. Afterwards the silverback was about a metre away from me and the guide used his machete to lower some of the vegetation. The silverback had been about to eat that vegetation and he roared in disapproval. Having a wild silverback roar when it is standing a metre away from you is an interesting experience.

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I also went river boarding on the Nile. The rest of the group went rafting or kayaking, the guide and I rode through the rapids clutching our boogie boards.

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One comment on “Gorillas in the River
  1. Ian Cooper says:

    You need to get a more interesting life, Aidan – NOT!!!! What a fantastic experience that must have been!

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