I was up late the previous night, anxious because I couldn’t believe I was finally going to tick off one of my 2018 goals- Gorilla trekking!!! It’s true what they say, when you want something bad enough and write it down things have a way of working out…
Elias had asked for a wakeup call reminder for directions to my place. When my 5:00am alarm went off, I got up and snoozed it, thinking I would take just five more minutes. Next thing I knew, Elias was calling to ask whether I was ready?!? I hurriedly jumped up out of bed and had the quickest shower ever.
Thankfully, I had packed the night before and knew where everything was. Even my oatmeal pancakes and fruit were neatly tucked away in my bag. All I needed now was to hit the road – set off time – 6:00am.
Now on the road with Timothy and Max, we were driving through the rain watching cars pile up in the morning traffic as children walked to school. Our ride was so comfortable that I dosed off, later woke up and found we wein Kabale.
Excitement built up as we now approached Buhoma. We managed to find the large Silverback lodge sign post and drove into the gate noticing the wide smiles awaiting us from the window.
As we checked in and cooled off from the 7hour drive; with a refreshing glass of juice, the views of the forest from Silverback lodge already had us captivated. We had already shared our dinner orders and decided to take a stroll around the lush well-kept garden.
Rain drizzles had just cleared. After being shown to our rooms I was ready for my second cup of tea of the day with my book, relaxing on the Silverback lounge with open views of Bwindi. The lounge is a well-designed space that calms the mind. Outside, a dramatic mist-blanket started to cover the forest and I turned to Max whose astonished expression mirrored mine (could be that hers was about the cold)
- It gets cold here in March and April so pack sweaters and scarfs. Don’t forget your raincoat.
We were soon ready for dinner, as the patio and lounge now transformed with a golden touch of lamps hanging on the side posts. A three-course meal was served with my salad being the winner for the night. After we had gorged our dinner, we decided to turn in, so we could rise early for the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) registration and briefing for our Gorilla trek.
By 7:45 we were off to the registration point and were the first ones there-impressive African time 😉
The day’s Gorilla trekking group was now all assembled and we were briefed on what to do while tracking gorillas and how to behave amidst the gorillas. We then split up into two groups, ours being the Rushegura group. Our group would drive about ten to fifteen minutes to the starting point.
We started off at the church and were joined by very helpful porters and two armed UWA policemen. One went to the front of the trail, working closely with our guide and the other at the extreme back.
Our guide kept a steady pace which we appreciated. Thankfully we had our Silverback lodge walking-sticks which made going up the steep hills a lot easier, as they offer support. The reward for the higher we got was miles of gorgeous green landscapes.
After a few hours of walking, we were getting closer to the Gorillas. How could we tell? Well, we noticed some of their droppings on the trails and the sound of many baboons barking was our second clue.
We hiked up some more hills then down again, cut through bushy paths and walked passed a tea plantation into the area where the family of 12 gorillas we were was.
I started by spotting a female swinging in the trees, as we got closer, a silverback was relaxed on the ground, eating some leaves. Suddenly a long, loud farting sound came from the tall tree branch. There were two more gorillas relaxing above us.
A mother and her baby soon approached us, then a large male followed and were in such close proximity that they could literally slap the thrilled grin off my face. The mother had the baby on her back and knew when to follow her, sit, stand or play. Very human-like! Timothy managed to spread out a Jumia Travel banner close to three females, two males and two babies playing (they didn’t seem to mind)
We stayed here with the gorillas observing how the family spends their day for an hour. One of the young male silverbacks thumped his chest and it was cute to watch.
Our guide then led us to a spot where we had our packed lunches before heading back to the pick-up point. The guide was rather helpful with hints along our trek.
Back at Silverback Lodge, we had a shower got refreshed and started sharing with the couple we met the events of our day. Our highlight was trekking with perfect weather! The manager Charles had one more surprise for us. He invited the children from Bwindi Eco School to perform for us; some lively dances and skits. We enjoyed hearing some of their dreams and I hope I get to visit them again.
The next morning, I woke up to the most picturesque forest views from my window and enjoyed a hearty breakfast before we had to set off. It felt great staying in bed a little longer just to reflect on our thrilling experience trekking gorillas. I tried to delay our departure as long as I could…my morning was truly one of those perfect calm and relaxing moments that allowed me to reflect on this ultimate experience.
- Ask for Cottage 7. The charm of cottage seven will make you feel a little like royalty. Those Views!!
- Get yourself a souvenir from either the shop at Silverback Lodge or any of the shops just outside as you approach Bwindi Impenetrable Park
Our stay at Silverback lodge was an unforgettable experience that I am extremely grateful we took! Book your trip here. I’m thankful to have met the lovely team at the lodge, our knowledgeable guide and my travel buddies that I hope to explore more of our beautiful country with.
Have you been Gorilla trekking before? Where and what was your experience like?
Your travelling friend,
Photos: Max Bwire
Marasa Africa and Jumia Travel sponsored my trip and blog post. All opinions are my own.