Waking up early in the morning to go to the park headquarters in Bwindi National Park for gorilla trekking was one of the dreams that I had for many years. I had been saving money for this safari lastly the chance crossed my direction. I was one of the lucky visitors who got a gorilla trekking permit to Rushegura gorilla group which is one of three gorilla families in Buhoma region of Bwindi Forest National Park.
Several times, I had been attempting to secure a gorilla permit for myself however since gorilla trekking is the highlight of any safari to Uganda, this makes Gorilla permits to be on high demand, the dates of my trip were always fully booked or the accommodation was not available for me to stay at. I never lost hope until I was advised by a friend that I book through a local tour company. Since I wanted to go self-drive on my safari, I decided to inquire from Safari Car Rental Uganda Ltd for the availability of rental cars and after booking my safari vehicle I then requested them to at least book for me a gorilla permit and Joseph who was handling me was happy to help me book a gorilla permit and he did it free of charge.
After securing my rental vehicle, in 2 days the rental agency sent me a scanned copy of the receipt of the gorilla permits meaning they had already booked the gorilla trekking permit for me and the last thing that was remaining is me to fly into the country and start my self-drive gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.
On the day of the arrival at the Entebbe International Airport, I found when an agent from a car rental agency already waiting for me and he helped me carry the bags to the car then he briefed me about the vehicle, I did the inspection of the car and then lastly I had to sign the car rental contract and from there I drove direct to the southwestern part of the country to Bwindi Forest National Park the trip which took me about 8 hours drive. From the airport, I transferred directly to Buhoma Community Rest Camp which was already booked in advance by the car rental agency. upon my arrival at the lodge, I was warmly welcomed by the lodge manager who offered a drink, a brief talk about the lodge and its services. I was really impressed. I don’t know whether it was anxiety or excitement that kept me conscious all night long but as I recollect, my dreams were filled with meeting with the mountain gorillas the following day.
Very early in the morning, I woke up for a heavy breakfast which was served at the common lounge area. Then I got my packed lunch boxes for the day because the time of our return was unpredictable and depends on the movement of mountain gorillas in search of food.
Then with all my trekking gears I entered my vehicle and drove to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park headquarters where I found other people who were also going for gorilla trekking. We got a short briefing about the rules and regulations to fall when we are in the jungle with mountain gorillas from the park ranger and later in the company of our ranger 8 of us walked into the thick jungle to search for the mountain gorillas. Mr. Mutebire our ranger guide clarified that mountain gorillas search for food throughout the day so we need to follow their path. He included that despite the fact that gorillas are huge in size, they eat foliage only and bamboo is their delicacy.
Birds in the forest kept us entertained due to the fact that the park is home to over 350 different species of birds the guide told us and the monkey hopped from one branch to another. As we walked, our guide stopped us and reminded us to lower our voices because we were getting closer to the gorillas. They are very sensitive to intruders explained Mutebire. At this time, I felt quick ice running through my body to the feet but I was still eager to see the gorillas. We had them grumbling and finally got into an open space where they had been feed the entire day. I have traveled to Africa for several safaris but to be honest, this was an excellent encounter that I wished to share with all readers.
We were also advised to put our mobile phones into silent mode and even to put the flashlight off on our camera, then we were given a maximum of one hour to spend with the mountain gorillas and we took as many photos as we wanted and even recorded videos of the young playing on branches of trees.
The gorilla group we tracked was well organized with the females taking care of the babies, the young playing from the vines and as we kept gaping, the male silverback emerged from its hiding. He was tall, huge, and dark and looked defensive. He continued watching his family and pouncing at the young ones. We took various photographs and after an hour, we needed to leave their presence but all of us were still in need of watching them. For sure I will push and save for another gorilla trekking safari in Uganda.