Connect with us

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.

Published

on

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

“Hmmm-hummph”.

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?

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Continue Reading
28 Comments

28 Comments

  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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Adventure Travel

Is It Safe to Be Outdoors During a Lightning Storm?

Published

on

When dealing with outdoor activities what’s better than just clear skies? Sunny weather, a breeze and warm but not too hot temperatures. If the said outdoor activity is being held within the day time, we hope for warm sunshine, and if the time of the activity deems to be in the darker hours, then the aspect of warm sunshine gets replaced with starry atmosphere.

Who doesn’t like the calm of the night and the seemingly scarce starry skies?

In either case, the wish for clear skies remains on that list no matter what. The reason for that is quite understandable: no one wants to be unexpectedly drenched in rain, covered in snow, or worse, struck by lightning.

While the first two experiences are essentially harmless and mostly welcomed in the name of adventure during travels, the third phenomenon can be fatal in most cases. Unfortunately, it is very plausible as well, since the United States itself experiences 100,000 thunderstorms on a yearly basis, around 10,000 of which are classified as severe.

That is why, most outdoor facilities that want to protect their inhabitants and patrons invest in a lightning detection system, which can warn them of upcoming lightning storms and threats.

Being Outdoors During a Thunderstorm is Not Advisable

With these measures being taken to protect lives against lightning storms, you may have already put two and two together to know that it is not safe to be outdoors during a lightning storm, no matter if you are camping by the lake or swimming by the beach during your vacation.

While you can just accept the fact of “being indoors during lightning” only because you are being told to do so, understanding the reasons behind it is what could provide you with the conviction to protect yourself and your loved ones during lightning storms at all costs – especially when the choice you have to make is between spending some more time outdoors at your travel destination or going back to your hotel room.

It Can Be Deadly

From 2007-2017, 328 people lost their lives to lightning strikes, all because they found themselves outdoors during an inopportune time. This is why, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whenever you find yourself amidst an approaching or already landed thunderstorm, it is best to find yourself a shelter to ride out the storm.

In fact, the CDC is so adamant over urging people to seek out any sort of shelter than trying to be adventurous about it that it advises people to get in their car if they cannot find a concrete covered shelter in order to minimize their risks of being struck by lightning.

Putting yourself outdoors during a lightning storm is akin to swimming on a beach that has put out a shark warning. While the deadly fish may or may not attack you, the possibility of it doing so is very apparent. If you do not heed to the warnings and dive into the ocean, and if the shark decides to pay you a visit, the end results would be nothing but severe.

Lightning Storms Are Not Always Detectable Without Help

However, lightning storms cannot always be detected by the human eye and we only often know about them when they are literally over our heads. That is why, the aforementioned lightning detection procedures are important from a safety perspective, as they can warn you about lightning threats in a timely manner and save you the hassle and worry of finding shelter during a thunderstorm.

Keeping this in mind, whenever you are travelling outdoors especially during the months of summer, try to find places that have efficient warning systems such as a lightning detector in place.

And if you find yourself in the midst of a lightning storm anyway:

Go inside.

Continue Reading

Adventure Travel

The Imperial Sand Dunes, an Exciting ATV Destination You Can Visit Within the U.S.

Published

on

Adventure travel has gradually become one of the most sought after segments of the travel and tourism industry. Why wouldn’t it be? Many people are cooped up in buildings all day poring over excel spreadsheets or going over reports. They want to have some adventure and a lot fun when they travel.

Who can pass a fun and adventurous trip up?

When it comes to adventure travel, not many things can beat ATV (all-terrain vehicle) destinations. The very thought of riding out four-wheelers powered by OEM ATV parts is exciting by itself, and once you actually experience riding an ATV through a sandy desert or a dense green forest, it is simply too enthralling to put into words.

But since not everyone has the luxury of time to travel internationally just to take an ATV ride, many of us miss out on that experience.

Fortunately, for those who are adventurous at heart but busy at life, there are a few ATV adventure destinations located right here in the U.S. At most, you would have to spare a weekend out of your busy schedule, and in return, experience the unmatched thrill that comes with an ATV spin.

And what other location could better demonstrate the best in weekend vacations and ATV rides than the famous Imperial Sand Dunes? While chances are that you must have heard about the area, you can read on for further information on what it can offer you in terms of adventure travel.

Imperial Sand Dunes

The Imperial Sand Dunes, located within the Algodones Dunes, is a large sand dune field that is located near the border that connects the U.S. state of Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California.

The land is filled with golden sand as far as the eye could see, with the sand itself is sun-kissed and warm for anyone who travels through it. Fortunately, the soft waves of the sand can easily be swirled through an ATV, which is exactly the reason why people flock towards the Imperial Sand Dunes. They want to get a taste of the wild desert rides that the world keeps talking about. While you may have read about ATV mud tires and their off road control quality, taking ATVs for a spin into the desert would be an unmatched experience on its own.

As long as you maintain your decorum as explained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), you can enjoy the lands and the sights that they have to offer. You can also camp in the recreational area set aside by the BLM, so going there for a weekend and kicking back to relax while you dabble into ATV riding would be a great idea.

This chance to relax would also give you the opportunity to explore all that you can in person before you check out ATV and motorcycle components at a place like the Honda parts house for your future adventures.

All in all, by experiences provided to people in the past, the Imperial Sand Dunes proves that it has a lot to offer in terms of adventure travel. You just need to have proper planning done to make sure you get some extensive time with these sweet ATVs and the exciting desert backdrop, so you could have great memories of adventure to return home with.

Continue Reading

Adventure Travel

Where To Travel To On Your First Surf Holiday

Published

on

Since news broke that surfing would make its debut at the 2020 Olympics there has been a lot of interest in this surface water sport. Gone are the days when it was a sport reserved only for the weed smoking beach bums in their floral inspired board shorts. So, if you are feeling extra adventurous and would like to try surfing on your next vacation, we have rounded up the best destinations where you can ride your first wave.

Costa Rica

This populous Central American country is a surfers dream. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner you are bound to catch some neat waves that reach up to 12 feet in height. If you want to take a surfing holiday, Playa Tamarindo is one of the most popular beaches to surf in Costa Rica. Be careful though, as this beach can experience strong rip currents at low tide.

Tamarindo has two main breaks for advanced surfers: Pico Pequeño a rocky point to the right of the Hotel Tamarindo Diriá and the excellent river mouth break across from Cabinas Tsunami called El Estero. The rest of the beach breaks are perfect for beginners.

Nicaragua

South Western Nicaragua receives 300+ days offshore wind and constant southern swells which means that this country is a surfer’s dream. The entire pacific coastline in Nicaragua is peppered with amazing surf spots. From the The Boom in Northern Nicaragua to Popoyo in central Nicaragua and then all the way down to Playa Maderas in San Juan Del Sur.

Nicaragua has a wave for every level of surfer and with water temperatures averaging 27 degrees celsius, long surf sessions are always in order. There are plenty of surf camps dotted all over the country and because Nicaragua is still less developed than Costa Rica, prices are a lot lower than it’s southern neighbour. Don’t forget your surf equipment because you are bound to have a blast.

Portugal

Portugal isn’t just famous for it’s pastèis de natas, this European country also has some of the best surfing spots in the world. Super Tubos situated in Peniche, has been a favourite with locals and tourists alike. The break offers world-class surfing conditions with its hollow powerful waves, and is the site of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal the World Surf League Men’s Championship Tour event.

The Algarve on Portugal’s southern coastline is famed for white sandy beaches and beach breaks. There are a number of great surf spots in the Alrgarve with Sagres being the epicentre of surfing in this region.

Morocco

Deep in the heart of North Africa there is a fishing vilage called Taghazout. Just north of Agadir. Which comes alive each winter with the sound of pounding pointbreaks and surf banter. It’s a beautiful place with a rich Arabic culture to add  to the magic.

Taghazout is surf, surf and surf.  Taghazout is the premium surfing destination of Morocco with some iconic surf spots, like Anchor Point. Since Anchor point was first put on the surf mpa in the 1970’s, Taghazout has steadily grown to become Morocco’s preeminent surfing destination.

Taghazout now has a plethora of great surf camps to choose from, and all of them mainly cater to beginner and intermediate surfers.

Bali

We had to keep the best for last, Bali has been on the top of travellers favourite destinations for a long time which doesn’t come as surprise. Bali has everything from sun, sea and surfing spots aplenty. Our top pick Kuta is if you are looking for a beach and resort area in the south of the island of Bali.

One of Bali’s first tourist developments, it’s best known for its party-centric atmosphere and surfing in the Indian Ocean. Kuta’s long, consistent waves make it a popular surf spot, particularly for beginners, with plenty of outfitters offering board rentals and surf lessons.

Continue Reading

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...

New on Four Jandals

What Are You Looking For?

Subscribe

Trending