Trekking Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Our Reader's Special Report 

THIS SILVERBACK LETS NOTHING ESCAPE HIS STEADY GAZE, THE LEADER OF THE RUSHEGURA FAMILY GROUP WATCHES THE WATCHERS. IMAGE: THANKS TO RAY

This is the first in our new series of wildlife adventure reports from our readers. Have YOU been on a wildlife adventure? Tell us about it.  

Ray and Pat are a couple from South Africa who love to travel and love wildlife. Their most recent trip took them to Uganda where they trekked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in search of the endangered mountain gorilla. We are so honored that Ray and Pat agreed to share their trip and images with all of us! 

Meet the Rushegura Family

From Ray: (This past November, 2016) we had the privilege of an amazing experience with the "Rushegura Gorilla Group" of 16 mountain gorillas, including babies and young male and female infants (all) under the vigilant watch of the dominant  "Silverback,” (the) leader of the group. 

THE RUSHEGURA FAMILY GROUP, ALSO CALLED "GROUP R" ARE ONE OF 11 HABITUATED MOUNTAIN GORILLA GROUPS IN BWINDI. IMAGE: THANKS TO RAY. 

We hiked up the mountain at "Bwindi Impenetrable Forest" for about one hour, climbing approximately 400 to 500 m (1850 ft) before meeting with the park trekkers who lead us to where they (the gorillas) were. 

They Are Like Us

They (mountain gorillas) are not immune to human diseases and therefore anyone with even a common cold should not go near them for fear of infecting them, the same (care) as one would (take with) humans.

Rules only permit a small group of 8 visitors for each (gorilla) family and we were allowed to stay for only one hour near them. Enough time to feel their vibes, watch them feed, play, and rest.

A Wonderful Surprise!

SURPRISE! A NEW BABY ARRIVED OVERNIGHT just IN TIME FOR RAY & PAT'S VISIT. IMAGE: THANKS TO RAY. 

We had the enviable good luck of seeing in the group a female who had had a baby during the previous night which the guides had not encountered or known about before we came in contact with the group. 

(There was) lots of photographs (taken) and high emotions in the group of trekkers! 

The Experience of a Lifetime! 

We had the experience of younger gorillas passing between us and on one occasion, being knocked over by a large female, basically because of how these beautiful animals walk. They have immense power and their size and strength is something to behold.

(It was) a lifetime experience making the 8-day trip through Uganda such a memorable holiday.

THE HABITUATION PROCESS CAN TAKE FROM TWO TO THREE YEARS UNTIL THE GORILLAS (AND HUMANS) ARE RELAXED ENOUGH TO BE TRUSTED - WITHIN PARAMETERS, OF COURSE. IMAGE: THANKS TO RAY.   

The Effect of Conservation and Responsible Tourism

(The total) number of (wild) mountain gorillas left worldwide are estimated to be as few as 800, the largest concentration: over 400 of them, live protected at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. Here thanks to successful conservancy projects, humans change of habits & income from tourists, this population is growing. 

The rest of the estimated population of endangered gorillas are encountered in neighboring Rwanda (also protected) or facing dangers (war and hunting) at the Virunga Volcanoes (National Park) in (Democratic Republic of) Congo. 

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK SITUATED IN UGANDA'S SOUTHWEST AT THE EDGE OF THE RIFT VALLEY.  THE MIST COVERED MOUNTAINSIDES CONCEAL THE RAINFOREST THAT CONCEALS THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS. 

Thank you Ray and Pat
for sharing your mountain gorilla experience with us! 


Editor's note: Uganda is an on-going conservation and responsible tourism success story. Since 1995 wildlife and habitat conservation has been part of its constitution, “on behalf of the people of Uganda” 

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS ARE CURIOUS, ESPECIALLY THE YOUNGSTERS MAKING SOMETIMES IT IS DIFFICULT TO KEEP THE PROPER DISTANCE. IMAGE: THANKS TO RAY 

About half of the last mountain gorilla populations left in the world are found in Uganda’s Bwindi, the other half live in the Virunga Mountains and regularly cross the border between Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The three countries together devised a system of responsible tourism best practices that balance the needs of the mountain gorillas and encourages the growth of a wildlife tourism industry. In each country, wildlife tourism employs locals, encourages socio-economic stability, and supplies much-needed income to help protect the wildlife from poachers and other dangers.  

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
UNESCO World Heritage site. 

In addition to mountain gorillas, Bwindi is home to over 120 mammal species, including 10 primates. Here you can see chimpanzee, black and white colobus, and the rare l’Hoest monkey, six antelope species, and perhaps a rare forest elephant as well as 340 bird species, over 200 butterfly species, and 27 different amphibians darting among the 163 different tree and 19 different fern species, that is you might see them if you are not too dazzled by the brilliance of 1000 different flowering plant species. 


Show and Tell

We would love to hear about your responsible wildlife adventure and so would other travelers. Send us your stories and photos and we will publish them as possible.

THANKFULLY, THE FOREST IS NOT IMPENETRABLE TO THESE AMAZING CREATURES, THE RUSHEGURA SILVERBACK LEADS THE WAY. IMAGE: THANKS TO RAY.