It is still said in some parts of Uganda that the impenetrable forest of Bwindi is the only place in the world where the three big primates lived together on the same territory: mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and men. Before Bwindi became a protected national park, the Batwa’s a pygmy people from the rainforests of East Africa, lived and hunted in the heart of the forest. They now live on the outskirts of the forest, outside the park, but it is still possible to go with them on an excursion to the heart of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see and understand their daily life. A totally unique experience, as well as the encounter with gorillas and chimpanzees from this region of the country.
DIFFERENT SECTORS FOR MEETING WITH GORILLAS IN UGANDA
There are different sectors in the inextricable forest of Bwindi where it is possible to meet mountain gorillas such as Nkuringo, Rushaga or Buhoma and Mgahinga. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 36 gorilla families, 14 of which have been used to humans.
A gorilla family is also present in the heart of Mgahinga National Park, a little further south of Bwindi, on the border with Rwanda. Visitors are expected to meet the area specified on the Gorilla Permit one hour before the start of the trek, to attend an information meeting before setting out to meet the gentle mountain giants.
Each trekking is different from one day to another because the gorillas evolve in the heart of their natural environment and change place every day.
SAFETY MEASURES AND INSTRUCTIONS TO APPROACH GORILLAS
Once a gorilla family has been assigned to each group of visitors (maximum 8 people per group), the guides then transmit the instructions to be followed during the trekking, as well as the rules to be respected in the presence of the gorillas.
An hour in all and for all is devoted to the meeting with the gorillas. A unique and magical hour during which time flies at the speed of light, but leaves plenty of time to observe these imposing and placid creatures.
There is also an experience in Bwindi called Gorilla Habituation which offers visitors to stay 4 hours with a group of semi-wild gorillas, in the process of habituation to the man, along with the team of scientists who follow them. and study them. An extraordinary experience and exciting!
TREKKING TO GORILLAS IN UGANDA
The climb is accessible to all but some areas are more full-bodied than others and really deserve the name of trekking. The overall visit can last from 2h to 8h depending on where the gorillas are on the day. The vegetation is extremely dense in Bwindi. Sometimes the gorillas stay in the buffer zone on the outskirts of the national park, or they are inside the forest, which adds a little spice to the challenge of trekking.
THE MEETING WITH THE GORILLAS
When the gorillas are close, the guards ask visitors to wait a bit to be able to approach the family as scouts. Once the green light is given, the visitors advance in single file the time to arrive in front of the gorillas and to be “presented” to them.
The guides remain in constant contact with the animals during the whole hour of the visit, emitting a guttural noise identical to that of a throat scratching. It’s a sound that gorillas emit between them and reassures them. It is forbidden to approach the gorillas but with a little luck, and if the family has a few young people, they come very easily play and tease the visitors because they are very curious. Photos without flash and movies are allowed. For the rest, silence and calm are in order not to disturb the great apes.
After this singular and unforgettable hour, the time has come to go down or up the hill depending on the position of the gorillas. But no matter, because it is obviously the light heart and stars in the eyes that each participant returns from this unique experience with our close cousins.
WHAT BUDGET TO DEVOTE TO A MEETING WITH GORILLAS?
The price of the gorilla permit in Uganda is US $ 600 per person. Since the Congolese part of the Volcano park has been closed to the public (until 2019), it is in Uganda that the gorilla permit is the cheapest. During the high season (July-September and December-February) must be booked well in advance because only 120 permits are issued per day and not one more.
Each group of visitors is composed of 8 participants. Places are expensive and counted. According to scholarships and budgets, some will be able to make one or two visits to see the gorillas, or even a habituation experience for which the permit costs $ 1500 for 4 hours in the company of gorillas. Every day is a different experience.
BWINDI AND SURROUNDINGS
For trekking and walking lovers, there are many hiking trails around Bwindi National Park.
The meeting with the Batwas, the pygmies of the rainforest of Bwindi is also unavoidable. It is possible to meet them at the place where they now live (outside the forest) or to live with them the real Batwa Experience which consists of a great walk in the heart of the forest, at the very place where they lived. lovers
Lake Mutanda, also located in the area, is the ideal place for a long traditional boat ride, a moment of peace and harmony for nature lovers and birds.