Gorilla Trekking Experience, Uganda

Alex Roldan

Alex Roldan

Co-Founder & Specialist Wildlife Photography Guide

Those fortunate enough to participate in Gorilla Trekking have gone on to say that it is one of the most rewarding and evocative wildlife experiences your can have. It is thought that there are less than a thousand individuals left in the wild (according to 2017 statistics) and you can help aid their conservation… through trekking to see them.

Gorilla trekking is carried out strictly by the purchasing and issuing of permits. The cost of which are high but unlike some operators, we have built them in to your journey, meaning there are no hidden financial surprises along the way. The majority of the permit fee goes straight in to conservation, it helps to benefit the reserve and also the local communities. Paying for the upkeep of the roads, the salaries of the Rangers (who also protect the gorillas from poachers) and most importantly, the continued research and protection of the gorillas themselves.

This will be a rare; mystifying experience. Let me set the scene for you…

Your guide and tracker skilfully lead your intimate group through the thick jungle of Central Africa, expertly following signs left by one of the local bands of Mountain Gorillas. The sights, sounds and smells of the jungle pique your senses. A cacophony of bird calls add a beautiful sound track to your hike and a mosaic of butterflies flutter through the air as you twist and wind your way along almost invisible paths.

The guide raises his hand, prompting you to stop in your tracks, he motions for you to lower yourself in to a crouch. Asking you to set your pack aside and encouraging you to bring only your camera with you.

Even resting peacefully he cuts a remarkable, intimidating figure as he casts an almost nonchalant estimating gaze in your direction.

Climbing for another minute or two, you are led towards a small clearing surrounded by lush green undergrowth. As the curtain of leaves is pushed aside, the excited murmurings of your small group fall in to a spine-tingling silence. A sense of wonder transcends from deep within you. Not more than 10 meters away is the behemoth of the group. The patriarchal Silverback.

Even resting peacefully he cuts a remarkable, intimidating figure as he casts an almost nonchalant estimating gaze in your direction. In that moment you somehow feel that there is an almost immediate respect shared between you.

Any trepidation within you begins to subside as you settle in to a comfortable position. Gazing across the family group of fuzzy black-furred titans; watching as they interact with each other in such an enchanting manner, playing, gesturing and grooming. Staring in to the eyes of one of the gorillas close to you – and as the noble primate stares back, you recognise something oh-so-familiar.

Gorillas share a 98% DNA similarity to humans and you begin to wonder at the intelligence and emotion behind those big watchful amber eyes. What thoughts are going through their mind and do they think in the similar ways as we do?

As you quietly watch them going about their daily lives; you’ll quickly see how each of the group has their own personality traits and unique features. It soon becomes very easy to understand how genetically close we actually are to these gentle giants.

Not every encounter will be the same and not everyone will experience the same emotions. But I’m fairly certain you will have a wonderful sense of humbling connectivity whilst in their presence. Few people have privilege to such a life-changing and memorable experience… spending time with the magnificent Mountain Gorillas, deep in the forests of Central Africa, their natural habitat… their home.

“No one who looks into a gorilla’s eyes — intelligent, gentle, vulnerable — can remain unchanged, for the gap between ape and human vanishes; we know that the gorilla still lives within us. Do gorillas also recognize this ancient connection?” – George B. Schaller, “Gentle Gorillas, Turbulent Times,” National Geographic.

The pinnacle of our Uganda journey is Gorilla Trekking but there will also be many other highlights in this superb expedition. Such as exploring for Chimpanzees, another absolutely miraculous experience in itself which you will never forget. As well as searching for all the other magnificent wildlife and marvelling at the wondrous vistas and vibrant, colourful and friendly culture that Uganda is famous for. This is a bucket-list experience for many people and will certainly inspire you with the world around you.

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