One of the main reasons I came back to Africa was to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda as we didn’t do it last time and I was gutted to have missed it.
Months prior to our trip we applies for our gorilla permit which cost around £500 each, this is the price that is set for several reasons. There are only 80 gorilla permits permitted each day, ALL of the money goes back into the conservation of these endangered animals and the guides are very experienced at what they do and without their knowledge and guidance no one would be able to see these animals.
We got picked up from our campsite in Lake Bunyonyi at 5.30am, having been given lots of advice my outfit consisted of long rugby socks, leggings over shorts, a long sleeved top, rain jacket and sturdy walking shoes. I looked amazing (not) but it wasn’t a fashion show it was a gorilla trek!
We drove for 2 hours to get to the gorilla base at Bwindi National Park and were briefed along with the other trekkers at 8.30am. There are 480 gorillas in the park, 13 families that are habituated which means they are used to humans and other families that are completely wild. We had a 15 minute drive to our drop off point which was 2,300m above sea level. The views were spectacular but I was suffering slightly from the altitude, every breath I took seemed short and every step I took seemed hard.
Knowing that I would get to see the gorillas at the end of it made me determined but I won’t lie, the trek was at times difficult. We trekked up a mountain first of all and after about 45minutes reached the forest of dense vegetation. There was still a track which was great but after about half an hour it was all up and down, through plants, down mud, over trees until finally after radioing back and forth with the trackers we found them.
Over the past two hours the tension between the group had been building, we were all excited and nervous to finally meet the gorilla family so when we got our first glimpse all we could do was stand there silently in complete awe.
It was the silverback we saw first, munching away behind some bushes silently. Two other males were lingering fairly close by and then both of them came bounding out of the bushes straight past us. We got extremely close to the gorillas, much closer than I ever imagined we would. The rules are clear that you must remain 7m away from the gorillas but in some instances we were able to get closer.
We saw babies being playful up the trees and on the ground with the females and every few minutes more and more gorillas would appear literally all around us. I would say we saw around 7 or 8 gorillas out of the 13 that were in that family.
Before we knew it our hour was up, it went by quite quickly but I felt more than satisfied with what we got to experience. Seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat was nothing short of amazing and I feel so privileged to have seen them.
The trackers do a phenomenal job, they spend a lot of time with the gorillas to teach them not to be threatened by humans and they said that poaching in this area had all but stopped which has helped to grow the population a lot in the last five years.
Once we trekked back to the base camp we were presented with gorilla tracking certificates and some local children came and sang for us which was a nice ending to the perfect morning.
If you ever get the opportunity to see the gorillas, take it! It is something I will cherish for years to come.
The cost was £529GBP per person and I can honestly say it was worth every penny.
Here is just some of the footage from our incredible experience with the gorillas.