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Adventure Travel

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

While it is one of the most expensive hours you will ever experience, it is still worth it. Find out what it’s like to go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda.



A flash of silver surrounded by black is the first glimpse I catch as his gigantic body rises from leaning against the bamboo trunks. His monstrous head swivels atop a pair of broad shoulders.

Male Silverback Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

Male Silverback Gorilla in Uganda


Frozen on the spot our guide imitated the universal Mountain Gorilla sound to let them know we were friends and everything was alright.

As the leading Silverbacks head finished it’s swivel, it locked it’s dark eyes on our group and didn’t even blink before turning back to it’s lunch of bamboo shoots and leaves.

Silverback Gorilla in Uganda

Silverback Gorilla in Uganda

Grinning at us our guide waved us closer.

“Don’t worry, they are happy with our presence.”

I wasn’t completely convinced, but when you are paying $550/hour trekking with Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, you don’t want to waste a minute. Inching closer we all began jostling for position. Elbow to elbow our cameras whirred away as we frantically tried to snap a few pictures under the very poor light conditions.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

And today the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was living up to it’s reputation as the heavy rainforest above our heads blocked out nearly all the available light.

Grasping the thick trunk with a fist that could crush your skull, the solo Silverback swung down the bank. Lumbering downhill towards his family on his knuckles, we followed at a safe distance.

Within minutes we spotted further movement ahead. A young male juvenile clambered up a tree just 10m from our position as his brother chased him. Launching from above he tackled his brother with a fistful of black hair sending them both into the undergrowth.

Gorillas in Bwaise Impenetrable Forest Park

Male Juvenile Gorilla in Bwaise Impenetrable Forest Park

The mother didn’t even react and I couldn’t understand why until movement over her shoulder caught my eye. A baby Mountain Gorilla, only a month old to the day, peered at us with intensely deep brown eyes before disappearing again.

New born Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

New born Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

As the dominant Silverback we had spotted earlier continued away from us, the rest of his 10 strong family followed in his wake.

For the next hour it felt like we were continuously harassing them as we snuck closer for a few minutes before they decided to move on. End even though we were not allowed to approach them closer than 7m, they would saunter closer to us on several occasions.

While they barely paid us any attention, it felt like we were constantly intruding on their territory and within their personal spaces.

Mountain Gorillas in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla trekking in Uganda

The Trekking Experience – Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Only half of the experience is actually watching the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. One of the best parts of the day is trekking through the Bwindi Impenetrable Rainforest searching for them in the first place.

We were considered lucky as our maximum group of 8, accompanied by our guide and an armed guard to scare off potential poachers and wildlife, had slashed, stumbled and hiked only 45 minutes from our start point to our first sighting of our designated Mountain Gorilla family in Uganda, Bitukura.

In comparison, the other group from Oasis Overland, who I am travelling across Africa with, hiked over 3 hours each way before they spotted their first glimpse of the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda.

Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla in Uganda

Just 10 minutes into our Gorilla trekking in Uganda we were halted in our path as we caught glimpses of brown flanks downwind of us through the dense forest. A herd of Elephants were in a clearing ahead and were known to charge at “muzungus” in their path.

Smaller than their desert dwelling cousins, they use their size to ease their way through the undergrowth in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park. Their lighter weight also allows them to scale the, at times, near vertical Bwindi Impenetrable Forest valley walls.

Unslinging his AK47, our guard told us to run if they decided to charge us before sending them trumpeting into the bush with a single “CRACK” of the bullet whizzing above their heads. It’s slightly unnerving to see how quickly they can move in a forest that I can barely see through.

Gorillas in the Mist Uganda

Gorillas in the Mist Uganda

Slipping deeper and downhill in to the Ugandan Rainforest we were only given a 2 minute warning before we spotted that first male Silverback.

And bang on 60 minutes our excellent Mountain Gorilla guide slowly started to pull us away from the group. It was a magical experience that I will never forget.

Have you seen been trekking with the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda before? Is it on your Bucket List?

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  1. Thomas Dembie

    May 19, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Great post! I recently did a similar trek in Rwanda. The hike to find the gorillas was extremely difficult, and it rained the whole time. Nevertheless, it was an awesome experience.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 23, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      We were really lucky that our hike was so short! And it only started raining after we finished 😉

  2. Candice

    May 20, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    I have always wanted to do this, and everyone I have spoken to that has, says it is worth the money! You got some amazing shots on your trip!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 23, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      Was really hard to get the photos as the light was so dark. Took 87 photos and these were the best!

  3. Walter Bailey

    May 21, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    Wow! Amazing pictures you have captured. I love to this as well but I can’t afford $550/ hour.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 23, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      It was lucky it was half price for 2 months this year due to Ugandan celebrations 😉

      • Instinct Safaris

        November 5, 2013 at 7:18 PM

        In the low season months it is always reduced to 350 USD! This promotion is in November, as well as March, April, and May. 🙂 So you don’t have to wait until the next 50th Independence Day to get a big discount.

  4. Jonathan Look, Jr.

    May 22, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    Wow! What an amazing adventure to get so close. Thanks for bringing some awareness to these amazing creatures.

  5. Justin @ True Nomads

    May 26, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    This is definitely on my bucketlist now!

  6. Kristy of Family Visa

    May 29, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    I was shocked about the price because it is a bit expensive but it shows that you really had a great time trekking and seeing those gorillas in personal on their territory through your pictures of the said trip.

  7. Shirley

    May 29, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    That was quite an adventure I must say, and quite risky in my opinion.. and you wrote it very well, engaging much that I felt your nervousness whenever the gorillas catch you eying on them.. ah, that must be intense!

  8. Jim

    May 30, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    You have a great way with words but these pictures are phenomenal. Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Nomad backpacker

    June 3, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Wow, that’s insanely expensive! But at the same time unforgettable!

  10. tourism uganda

    June 4, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Uganda is naturally given the artificial wonders are even not given a lot of concern mainly because of competition from a lot of natural aspects.

  11. Stu

    June 6, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    WOW!!! That experience truly is once in a lifetime! It looks awesome and despite the cost you will never forget it! From a photographes point of view, photographing Gorillas in their naural habitat is definitley up there. I think i may need to add this to my bucket list! Photos are great considering the difficult conditions, well done 🙂

  12. We Travel and Blog

    June 14, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    550 an hour!!! Did you book locally or did you go through some kind of tour agency. Seeing silver back gorillas is definitely on my bucket list. It would be nice to be able to camp in the jungle though so you could have a chance at getting some better light on the gorillas.

  13. Amanda

    June 18, 2013 at 3:33 AM

    Definitely something I would love to do – but that sure is a hefty price tag!

  14. Tyrhone

    June 27, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Wow, that looks incredible. I lived in South Africa and Zimbabwe so have been around wild animals a fair bit. But I never got to see gorillas. Sarah and I would love to do Africa after South America.

    Do you mind me asking $550 sounds like a lot! Was that for two of you? We would probably do a tour like the one your on, but I remember noticing some of the extras can add up to big money.

    Adventure on!

  15. Arti

    June 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    550$ for an hour?? That is a huge sum of money!!! But it must be one very unique and adventurous experience!!

  16. Bruised Passports

    July 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Wow! That looks like quite an experience. Tempted to book it right away – you guys have SUCH a way with words 🙂

  17. Martin

    July 8, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    What a great gorilla trekking. Great photos u share with us.

  18. Jeff

    September 4, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    A great adventure indeed though quite expensive. Great and quality pictures.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 6, 2013 at 8:11 AM

      Definitely expensive for just one hour. But also a once in a lifetime experience.

  19. Wild Whispers Africa Safaris

    December 6, 2013 at 4:48 AM

    These mountain gorillas are endangered and as such, the fee you pay goes to the conservation efforts. I see nothing wrong with charging $ 500 per person per trek.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 8, 2013 at 2:05 AM

      Exactly. It’s a great cause and a once in a life time opportunity.

  20. Peter @ Nairobi National Park Day Tours

    December 22, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    That Silver back just looks kingly. Great picks and Gorilla tracking travelogue cole.

    I agree, inorder to limit the numbers of visitors hence impact; and at the same time boost revenues, the $ 500 per person hour is justified.

  21. Africa Kenya safari

    February 27, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    You were the lucky one having to trek only for 45minutes and being treated to the rare sighting of the Gorillas.

    Though the Permits are expensive, We believe they are justifiable since the revenue generated go along way in the fight for survival of the Mountain Gorillas

    The whole experience of gorilla watching is thrilling and a must for everyone who can afford. Its a memorable experience given the fact that they are engendered species

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Adventure Travel

4 Ways to Sleep in the Outdoors Without a Tent



Is there anything more enjoyable than spending a night under the stars? Ok, spending a night with Chris Hemsworth, perhaps. But apart from that, getting back to nature and laying out under the cool night air must be one of the last true pleasures available to all of us.

But what happens if you love camping but hate tents? All those annoying poles, pesky pegs and flapping fabric are quite frankly too much to take sometimes.

Well don’t despair my friend, there are many ways you can get your fix of al fresco snoozing without having to resort to the cocooning yourself in canvas. Read on below and we will lay out 4 amazing ways you can get your sleep on without a tent to be seen…

Swinging in a hammock

We love hammocks. All hammocks are great. Well, maybe not banana hammocks but all hammocks that you can swing in are! They are so much smaller and more lightweight to carry than a boring old tent. You don’t need to find a piece of flat ground to pitch them on. All you need are two well placed trees and you are good to go.

What’s more there is just something so romantic about sleeping in a hammock. Come on, nothing sings relaxation more than the gentle sway of hammock. Remember to bring your cowboy hat to tilt over your eyes!

On a lilo/air bed/camping mattress

This one also refers to anything from a cheap air bed to an expensive camping mattress. Basically I mean the thing you would hunker down on normally when sleeping inside a tent, only get rid off the tent part. It’s not necessary.

Take some deep breaths and blow up your airbed or roll out your fancy self-inflating termo-rest and you are good to go. While you obviously aren’t as protected as you are inside the impenetrable nylon fortress of a tent, the joy of leaving the pegs and poles at home and just sleeping outside are well worth the added risk of being chewed on by a curious beetle.

A good addition when adopting this method could be one of those handy pop up mosquito nets you can get. Or if you want to travel as light as possible, arming yourself with a sleeping bag with a built in mosquito net for the face hole is a top idea.

The biggest downside of sleeping on an air-based mattress is the risk that the air may not stay where it should for the entire night. Do yourself a favour, read this article and learn a life skill that could mean the difference between a beautiful night’s sleep and hours of cursing at the moon – like some kind of deranged foulmouthed werewolf!

In a bivvy bag

Some of you out there may be thinking…”what the frick is a bivvy bag!?”. Well if you picture one of those body bags you’ve seen on CSI then you are getting close. Bivvy bags were originally designed for the armed forces as a way to give them a little protection from the elements at night when they are out sneaking up on enemies and the like.

Basically it is lightweight bag that you slide yourself into, either with or without or sleeping bag depending on the temperature. The bivvy will protect you from the harshness of the wind and rain and allow you to be as close to nature as can be. You will be fully encased apart from a small opening for your face to poke out.

Think of it as a tiny streamlined tent just for you body.  

The benefits of a bivvy, aside their size, are that they give you an almost invisible profile. Meaning that you can settle down almost anywhere in the landscape and the chances of you being spotted while you snooze are close to zero. Perfect when you don’t want anyone to interrupt your holy communion with Mother Nature.   

In your car

Cruising along the open road with your mates in the back, the windows down and tunes turned up is one of the best feelings many of us will experience. It is the closest most of us come to living the life we see in the movies and magazines.

What then could be less hassle than finding a beautiful spot overlooking the bay, having a few bevvies and then stretching out to sleep in back? Then repeating the whole process again tomorrow, then the next day, then the next.

Word of warning: Excessive sleeping in cars may not be the best idea for the taller ones amongst you, Back Seat Back is a debilitating condition that affects many of my closest buddies.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping in the fresh air is often pure bliss but obviously choose your night wisely. Check the weather and always be aware of the dangers, big and small. The benefits of all the above suggestions is their simplicity, the downside is once you remove the tent there isn’t much protection between you and the beasties. My top tip, take a mozzie net or get yourself a good spray, or else you’d better prepare for some a little itchy, itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy, scratchy in the morning!   

Happy tent-free camping my good friends!

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Adventure Travel

The Outback Planner- How to Get Ready For an Australian Adventure



Australia has some beautiful outback scenery, and exploring this scenery is an experience everyone who travels to, or lives in, Australia should have. Hiking through raw, untamed bush not only gives your body a healthy workout, but also gives you access to some of the best, hidden viewing spots for wildlife and scenery.

Of course, you can’t just hop in your car and drive to the nearest national park to stomp out into the bush, there are things you need to prepare for. Every year, inexperienced hikers get lost out in the national parks and bushlands of Australia, in every state, and some of them even die while trying to make their way back to civilization.

It’s a dangerous country when you take into account the wildlife, the unexpected landslides, the steep cliffs and the complexity of the landscape, which makes it easy to get lost in. To help you get ready properly for your Australian adventure, we have put together a short guide.

Find a Location

First and foremost is the importance of finding a location to explore. There are plenty of national parks with cleared paths to take around, and heaps of hiking trails all throughout each state. The more toward the coasts you travel, the more coastal wildlife and plantlife you’ll see in your travels, and cooler temperatures means more lush, forest-like greenery.

If you head inland, be ready for drier climates and more wide open tracts of land, especially in areas divided up for farmland. Remember, national parks are great places to safely explore, but straying into a farmer’s property is illegal and should be avoided at all costs.

Gear Up

Once you’ve got your location, it’s time to get yourself geared up. Longer trips out into the wilds of Australia will require more supplies and more gear. So, if it’s a day trip, remember to pack lightly and bring high energy food, protein of some sort, plenty of water, and some sort of map of the park, if there’s one available.

For longer trips, like a weekend away of a week of camping, you’ll obviously need more food, lots more water, and other supplies like a tent, towels, a secondary pair of shoes and socks, a few changes of clothes, an axe for chopping wood, a high quality LED torch, and some bedding. These supplies will help you stay alive and in good shape while you trudge through the vast outback.

Check The Essentials

Before you set off on your adventure, it is important that you check the essentials. Things like: what will the weather be like while you’re out there, what are the dangers associated with the location you’ve chosen, what wildlife is hazardous in the area you’ve picked and how to avoid it. These things are all elements that can threaten your life, so learning about them and being aware of what to do in these situations is vital to your survival. Check how many people get lost in this area every year too, and if the number is high, bring a GPS locator as an emergency backup plan in case things go awry.

These tips can help keep you alive, strong, and happy while exploring the beautiful, expansive areas that Australia has to offer. Take in the gorgeous scenery, spot some strange and exciting animals, and most importantly, stay safe.

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Adventure Travel

From Rock To Reef: Some of the Ways To See Australia



The number of tourists choosing Australia as a vacation destination is rising and rising. And in many ways, it is easy to see why. The climate is good pretty much all year round, and the country is vast, meaning many things to see and do. There are more airlines that are flying to Australia from more cities and countries, making it simpler for everyone to get there. So really, the numbers are likely to just keep on rising.

In such a huge country, though, where do you start planning your trip? It can be easy to get a little carried away and be a little over-ambitious with your planning. But it can mean that you don’t get to enjoy some things for as long as you’d want, or can mean too much time on other things; you simply can’t know what you’ll enjoy until you get there. There are plenty of organised tours that you could join in on, as well as arrange your own.

Organised tours will have some benefits, in that they are professionally organised, so it usually means a tight schedule with minimum time spent on internal transfers or transport. But the downside can be that you have to stick to their schedule, and you might not get to explore as much as you may want to. So you do have to think about what you want to get out of the vacation; seeing things, or experiencing things.

There are many great regions and cities to explore too. So staying put in one place could be your preference instead perhaps? With breathtaking beauty to experience, as well as activities and sightseeing, there are many choices. Being able to pack in a whole tour of the country does pose difficulties too. Take the weather, for instance. Summer on the south of the country (December to March) is known for its reliable warm and sunny weather. Whereas at the same time, it can be way more humid during those months, and it better experienced from May to October before the humidity gets too much. So plenty of things to be thinking about. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to see the country, whether arranged by yourself or as part of an organised tour. What would you prefer?

Do It Yourself

If you like to explore within your own bounds, then planning your own trip could be the best for you. It will take some planning, though, so give yourself plenty of time. A good way to do it could be to hire a car and then use something like PMX Campers caravans as they can travel with you. At least you don’t have to think about accommodation every night, just a campsite to pitch up at. Having some local knowledge is really key too, as there may be some insects and creatures that you’re not too sure about, especially if you’ve not visited before. So make sure that you have emergency numbers to hand, and don’t ever head out alone. Stick in a couple or a group and it will make the trip much easier.

Great Australian Adventure

If an organised tour is more of your thing, and a long one at that, then the Great Australian Adventure tour could be for you. At twenty-one days long, it is not for the faint-hearted, with the tor starting out with a trip around the harbor in Sydney, so that you get some pretty epic views of the classic Sydney sights (Opera House and Harbour Bridge). It also includes Ayers Rock, Cairns to go snorkelling in the great barrier reef, a stay in Melbourne, wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, and visiting Tasmania’s capital. As you can imagine, it does come with a pretty hefty price tag, but for what you get, including all of your flights and transfers, it can be a good deal if you wanted to see all of those things anyway.

Western Australia Best of the Coast


If you want to see a part of Australia that is a little less developed and more rugged than the south or east, then the Western coast could be the spot for you to visit. It is known for its seafood and surfing, not to mention the stunning sandy beaches. You could get a ten-day tour that explores the scenic region between Exmouth and Perth, as well as the National Parks in that area, the beaches, and canoe tours. You’re likely to see dolphins and whale sharks on this expedition, so great for animal lovers and explorers.


Venturing out onto the largely uninhabited island of Tasmania is often part of this part of the world that gets forgotten about. But the location, just off the coast of Australia can make it a destination all by itself. If you are planning your own trip, then it could just involve a flight or boat trip, depending where you are coming to it from. But there are organised tours, like Perfectly Tasmania, where you can enjoy a twelve-day tour of the island. It involves cruise, hikes, national parks, and a trip to a private distillery, and a former prison. So good if you want to learn a little more about the island and its history.

Highlights of Australia

If you have got children or teenagers, then a more classic Australian trip could be for you. I mean, what is a trip to Australia without seeing kangaroos or koalas, am I right? The Highlights of Australia tour involves a few flights internally, which can be a good with children, rather than endless hours in cars or on buses. But you’ll get to see the classic sights in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, as well as the Great Barrier Reef, Ayres Rock, and the Yarra Valley. There will be tours and visits to National Parks and animal reserves, so there is something for all of the family.

Have you been to Australia before and taken part in a tour? Or did you plan your own itinerary? It would be great to hear what you think.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...