By Jonathan Benaiah (The Ugandan Tourist)
Welcome back comrades. So in Part 3 we will sum up our (3 three) series of briefly understanding mountain gorilla tracking in Uganda; which actually stands as one of the undisputed fascinations that bring annual visitors from all over the world to take part in Safaris and Tours in Uganda. In part 2 we ended at the pre-gorilla tracking briefing which is done by Bwindi’s management, and we were fortunate enough to be flagged off to start the trek. Let’s go on.
At 8:00 am, eleven groups of highly zealous tourists begin walking through the thick jungle under the guidance of armed and knowledgeable ranger guides. Gorilla tracking is only carried out on foot and tourists are therefore advised to brace themselves for a hike that might sometimes last up to eight (8) hours before seeing the pursued mountain gorilla family. This hike often includes, slipping, sliding, getting rained on, walking through boggy soil, crossing streams of water, but it is all worth the while.
Along the way, Uganda gorilla safari visitors can see splendid flora and fauna species including primates and the well-colored musical bird species to keep them entertained as they look for the bigger treasure; the mountain gorillas. The ranger guides are trained to be a fountain of knowledge and tourists ought not to be shy to ask them about anything that they may not understand.
Remember this is a hike through a thick forest (why it is called impenetrable) and the ranger guides aid in clearing the bushes with machetes to pave a path for the guests to pass through. It is highly advisable that guests put on strong shoes (jungle boots if possible) and strong clothes that will not get torn a few minutes into the trek. A rain coat will also come in handy because of the unpredictable weather in this area.
After several hours of walking, trackers might see several shades of black fur sticking out of the bushes, or sometimes they might be welcomed by an unfriendly odor. There will be no need to explain to tourists that the treasure which they have sought after for a long time has been found. The ranger guides will then ask tourists to leave all their property at a distance and only proceed with their cameras to a place sometimes as close as 5 meters from the gorilla family.
At this time the timer will begin ticking and so will the cameras. Priceless photos will be taken by both the flash-less cameras and the natural cameras of the eye for a full hour. Imagine how many photos you can take in a sixty (60) minutes of the gorillas exhibiting, feeding and sometimes playfully wrestling. And at the end of the hour, it is time to say good bye and head back to the trailhead where the mountain Gorilla Tracking Tour and Safari kick started. The return time can never exceed 7:00pm.
A safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to track the mountain gorillas is a topic that is greatly written about today, but there’s no one who can ever satisfactorily describe this experience. Mountain Gorilla tracking is something which everyone ought to do for themselves because like the difference in human genetic compositions, every tourist will continue to have a dissimilar story to tell (than the visitors before him). Have an amazing Safari!