Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gorillas in the Midst

Ever since we read that Lonely Planet had listed Uganda as the #1 country to visit in 2012 we added it to our list of places to visit. Just like Columbia, it is a country looking to shed the reputation of an unfortunate past.

After doing a bit of research we sealed the deal, bought our plane tickets and started to get excited about the possibility of doing a gorilla safari. We knew that you needed to apply for a permit to go on a safari. Unfortunately we failed to notice that applicants needed to be at least 15 years old. While that was disappointing, we thought that we should still send a Galmc report correspondent into the jungle. Lucky me!

I left Kampala on Easter Sunday for the 9 hour drive to the Bwindi Impenetrable Jungle, home of the Habiynanja mountain gorilla family. This family consists of 18 mountain gorillas. Given how tough it was to spot leopards and lions, I was trying to keep my expectations down (thanks Matt) so as to avoid any disappointment. The drive was a great way to see some of Uganda, which is (as reported) a beautiful lush green country that has its own unique take on the cow family that we have seen so much of on this trip.

After getting settled in my tent at the local community rest camp I had some dinner and called it a night.

We departed the next morning at 9:00 am into the Impenetrable Jungle. We had 3 guides with us (2 with rifles), and were told that 2 other guides were already tracking the gorillas. Turns out they mark the GPS coordinates of the previous visit, go to that spot and then track the gorillas from there.

Our trek through jungle was fairly uneventful, save for the occasional pesky (and somewhat large) ants that decided to try and take a bite of me. After the first couple of bites I was deeply regreting having seen the last Indiana Jones movie. On a more interesting note, I met a mother and son. She is Swiss, her husband is Swedish, the son was born in London and has aspirations of joining the French Foreign Legion, I didn't realize the FFL still existed.

Finally we got the word from the guide that we were getting close. We pushed through the "path" and arrived at the nest. What followed was indeed one of the fastest hours of my life. Here's some of what I was fortunate to see.

As I was watching them I thought about what we have learned on this trip about Darwin's theory of evolution. Right around that time I heard one of the gorillas loudly fart. I guess they really are our "family."


  1. Tarzan in real life! Were there just the three in the video that you saw?

  2. Unbeleivable - I'm so happy at least one of you got to see such a thing. Somehow Vancouver is going to seem so tame...