Bwindi Impenentrable National Park in Uganda was gazetted in 1991 and has been a world heritage site since 1994. It covers 333km2 and is owned and run by UWA (the Ugandan Wildlife Authority).
There are 720 wild mountain gorillas in the world. About 340 of these live in Bwindi in about 30 families. 8 of these families are habituated, with one being a research only group, and the other 7 available for travellers to visit.
A permit currently costs $500. Almost 99% of people that trek actually do get to see the gorillas! I was surprised by this figure.
Each group is split into a ‘level’ depending on where they are each day. There will be an easy, medium and hard group. The shortest likely trek is about 1 hour and the longest can be around 5 hours. However long you’ve trekked you get a maximum of 1 hour with the group.
I trekked to see the Habinyanja group. There are 19 members in this family and we saw 12 of them. There is 1 silverback, 2 black backs, 4 babies, 3 juveniles, 8 females and 1 sub-adult male.
We did a 6 hour trek there and back, including the magical hour with them. I have to say that the terrain is not easy. It’s steep hillsides covered in forest, usually very wet and muddy with seemingly giant nettles wherever you decide to put your hands!
I was very glad of my porter, who as well as carrying by bag also helped push and pull me up the worst hills. I know that makes me sounds rather feeble, but honestly, it’s not that easy !
However it IS worth it. A good gorilla sighting has to be one of THE wildlife sights in the world. We were entertained by the babies, ignored by the silverback and sniffed at by the young adults. It seems quite incredible that these magnificent creatures simply don’t seem to mind our presence. And when they’ve had enough, they go.
For anyone with a passion for wildlife, don’t miss this incredible experience. You can take a gorilla trek in Uganda or Rwanda. I hope the following video gives a good idea of what the experience is like.