There are places we encounter that elicit awe, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is, without a doubt, one of those precious places on the planet. To be in the presence of the Eastern Mountain Gorillas is deeply humbling. I often tell my students, “There are more people in this building than there are mountain gorillas remaining in the wild.” They understand the concept of endangered species better when they grasp that figure.
The Top 10 facts about this species:
A trip to Uganda is often planned around your Gorilla trek. Bwindi is in the high mountain region of the country. It’s lush and green, and on your way there, you pass acres of tea plantations that remind you that Uganda was colonized by the British. The sunsets in Africa are dramatic, but when you’re high up, the view is even more impressive.
When you arrive for your trek, you are divided into groups of 8 people. You’re advised to pull your socks over your pant-bottoms to prevent fire ants from crawling up your legs. Your guide leads you into the forest and you begin the steep climb over a floor of woven vines. When you break the skin of these vines, the ground is slippery and a bit perilous. You hike uphill until you meet up with a second guide who has located the gorilla pod you will visit. You drop any daypacks at this meeting point, and you follow the second guide deeper into the forest where the family of gorillas are eating, playing, being. The sight of these creatures takes your breath away. They are so…human! It’s remarkable how similar they are to us, and the sense of being part of the animal kingdom is overwhelming. The gorillas are accustomed to being watched and they stare back at you in what appears to be an oh-look-there’s-those-animals-who-like-to-watch-us-eat expression. They play with their babies and nosh on leaves and twigs while we stare at them in amazement. After about 1 hour, we are escorted back down the mountain and issued a certificate of achievement.
We’d love to offer you an award for hanging with us on this journey. By volunteering to learn more about Uganda, you expand our connection to a part of the world that is easily ignore. What you find over and over again when you visit communities in Sub-Saharan Africa is a sense of gratitude that you have come so far to see their beautiful land and learn about their culture. My role is to be a conduit for the genuine gratitude that was expressed; to let you know that your interest in their lives means more than you can imagine. So, on behalf of Global Village Connect, all of the beautiful places and the precious lives we have encountered along the way, thank YOU for hanging with us and sharing this journey. Keep on trekking!
Enjoying a sundowner with a view
Unfortunately , the recent killing of the 25-year-old male, Rafiki, from the Nkuringo group in Uganda, follows a rise in illegal activities as tourism dries up in Uganda. We hope that once the global pandemic is no longer prohibiting travel, you will visit (or revisit) this beautiful country. Your tourism dollars make a huge difference to Ugandans.