I woke up this morning and had a big breakfast and then went gorilla tracking. Yup I said it. You can pay a fee in Bwindi to track gorillas. 20% if the fee goes to the villages near by for road works, school fees, ect. 10% is kept to pay for damages that the gorillas do sometimes when they come out and eat peoples crops, or damage their sheds. Yes it used to happen a lot before but because of that money the villagers are not resistant to the gorillas. The hike could be anywhere from 1-8 hours long. We left at 8:30 and we found the gorillas at 11. The hike was treacherous, not for the weak physically and mentally. I found it ok but I think I’m actually advanced now with my biking around Dublin and my walking/running and hiking. I could keep up ok. There was one man who says he runs 3 miles almost every day at 56 and still found it very hard! There was one man in the front and one in the back with a gun. The gun was to scare off any animals or gorillas that were aggressive, which we did not come across. There has not been any poaching I believe since 2011! just as an FYI. There was also a guy with a machete because we left the trail a lot! We literally became gorillas. When they walk through the forest they take down whatever is in their way just by plowing over it. Its amazingly fast!! So we made new trails for half the day.
No amount of schooling, or trips to a zoo, or internet pictures could ever prepare you for the amazing feeling that I had when I stepped through some bushes and there was 8 or 9 just 6 feet away sleeping. They were so close I could have reached out to touch them. I don’t think I can really describe it! There was the silverback Kanyonyi. He is the main alpha male. When you are told elephants are big, you dont think so until you really see it. I didnt believe how big he was until I saw it. He was big! And when he moved, the group moved. He would rush down the side of the mountain 20-30 feet, breaking trees in his wake yelling for them to move, even when there isnt danger. Its just his command. There were a few adult females as well lying about, with their babies!! Their beautiful little babies! The females would groom each other while the older babies would flop around their mothers lap. There was one infant that was born 4 days ago. Each one has a name and it represents them. One female is named because she likes to eat the ants! And when you hear the rangers talk about the gorillas, it really is with love. I fell in love with those babies.
We followed them for about an hour as they slowly made their way down the other side of the mountain. Then we said goodbye and walked in the opposite direction for about 20 minutes and sat down to eat lunch. It was quite possibly the most amazing thing Ive ever seen. I got goosebumps which doesnt happen that often.
So the forest wasnt just poached for gorillas, it was a huge source of mahogany trees. After they prohibited it, the trees were devastated. They are starting to come back but I felt lucky to be able to see some today. Inside Bwindi, there are over 200 species of birds, and butterflies and we came across a lot of plants that are used for antibiotics!! I just felt like I couldnt absorb everything I was seeing because there was so much! It was amazing.
Honestly if you can make the trip, you should. These animals are wonderful.