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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.

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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?

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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

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Adventure Travel

5 Cool Activities to do When Travelling in South America

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If you’re considering going on a vacation soon, why not consider South America for your holiday destination?

Yes, beach holidays in the US are fantastic, but South America offers amazing activities for first-time travellers and pro-adventurers alike.

Learning Textiles with Puchka, Peru

Puchka is a textile school and cultural tour operator, which takes participants behind the scenes of the usual tourist hotspots.

You’ll not only be introduced to locals and experience their traditional lifestyles, you’ll also be taught the art of traditional Peruvian textile creation. This includes knitting, braiding, embroidery (machine and hand), tapestries, and even gourd-engraving and pan pipes.

You don’t need to be a textile pro; even beginners can attempt embroidery at Puchka. The teachers are incredibly patient and provide amazing one-on-one lessons.

These cross-cultural exchanges enrich the lives of locals and visitors alike.

Visit Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil 

The Iguazu Falls are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil and you can visit the Falls on either side (or both).

The Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls is said to be the best to visit. There are multi trails and circuits to choose from, each encompassing different waterfalls and jungle trails. If you’re up to it, take a boat ride under one of the falls (extra charge).

The Brazilian side, while less popular, is incredibly beautiful. It is located within the largest surviving Atlantic Forest in Brazil. This forest is incredibly rich in fauna and flora and highly protected.

As a tropical rainforest, Iguazu Falls is an all-year destination, although it does get considerably warmer from September to March.

Hike to Angel Falls, Venezuela

Located in the remote, unspoiled and nearly impenetrable Canaima National Park, Angel Falls is one of the world’s natural wonders.

Measuring at 979 meters from the top of Auyantepui Mountain, the Falls is hidden deep within the jungle and getting there is an intense adventure. This magnificent natural wonder is ten times taller than Iguazu Falls – but less visited.

Yes, despite being such an iconic landmark, Angel Falls is not as widely visited since its location means intense hiking through a nearly impenetrable forest. Not many people think the sight is worth the effort.

Hike to Cuevas del Milodón (Milodon Cave), Patagonia

Located 24km from Puerto Natales, Milodon Cave is one of Patagonia’s treasures.

The caves were once a place of refuge for the first human groups on the continent, offering safety from the elements and predators alike. It now holds an exhibition containing 14,000-year-old remains.

A wooden path leads you right up to the cave’s entrance, where its magnificence will leave you in aware, and even a whisper will be echoed back to you.

You should dress warm for your visit here (rain-gear and a windbreaker are important) and wear appropriate trekking shoes. You may also want to take some sunscreen and a headlamp (or flashlight) along with you.

Take a Cable Ride to Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Taking a cable ride up to Sugarloaf Mountain is an unforgettable experience.

The ride happens in two stages (3 minutes each): stage one is from Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) to Morro da Urca (Urca Hill), and the second stage is from Morro da Urca to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The ride up provides 360° views of the stunning Rio de Janeiro, and once you reach the top, you will be confronted with views of Rio’s beaches, downtown Rio, Rio-Niterói Bridge and more.

Don’t worry about eating before the trip up, there are bars available at the top, which provide amazing snacks and beverages.

If you’re determined to go on an adventure but you’re low on funds, why not take a travel loan for that dream trip? The adventure will be worth it.

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Adventure Travel

11 Hidden Adventures for Your Travel Florida Bucket List

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Who would not want a fabulous getaway to Florida? Florida is not just any other state; its hidden adventures can entice the inner fantasies in you. Every year Florida has a fresh start of its surprises that need to be unleashed. Traveling to Florida is always an occasion for new meetings, adventures, and discoveries. That said, here are 11 hidden adventures for your travel Florida Bucket List. Let the adventures begin!

  1.    Shell Key

At Naples’ Goodland Marina, you can board a boat wherein you can embark on Florida’s best shelling experiences. Inhale salt air underneath clear blue skies where you can dance with the magnificent dolphins. A popular spot you can head for is called “Shell Key.”

It is located in Ten Thousand Islands whereby there are shell layers which unleash prized rarities like the Junonia.

  1. Miami city

Every great adventure in Florida starts in Miami. This city is all about fun, art, celebrities, fabulous houses and the beautiful waters. There is one perfect way to explore Miami – yacht rentals and going out with your squad.

The opportunity to have water experience comes no better than this because Miami is just the place to be, to enjoy, to explore, to melt in. You can just relax or even do celebrations with the Yacht Charters in the Miami. Biscayne Bay is also a perfect place to be because the waters are good for snorkeling.

  1.  Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park

The system of Florida State Park purchased “Shangri-la” whereby Gilchrist Blue Springs gives off 55 million water gallons daily which flows to Santa Fe River. You get to swim after jumping from a wooden platform into crystal water.

If you are coming with your family, you can have a picnic underneath sprawling oaks. You can also go for kayaking and board paddling. If you want a plain simple trip, you can even stroll around to the Santa Fe River on a wooden boardwalk.

  1. Caracara

If you are an avid or casual birder, then Caracara is the place for you. The birding experience is just worth it.

Get all the birding experience you can want to have at Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville. With the annual festival, it will offer a birding crash course which features experts that would be so glad to help you out with hikes et al.

  1. Mary’s Fish Camp

Meandering via an oak hammock is a dirt road to one of Florida’s campsites wherein screened porches cabins plus bait shacks face the river.

Mary’s Fish Camp is nestled along Bayport’s Mudd River. This is on the Gulf Coast of Hernando County which is a fishing spot landmark. You can camp there and enjoy nature at its best.

  1. Datil Do ‘Ya

This is a signature dish of St. Augustine which is famous for tomato base that is rich with a bit of heat from Datil pepper that is locally grown. You can eat all the best cuisines from the place due to the two outstanding restaurants wherein locals will serve you delicious chowder.

These two restaurants are Barnacle Bill’s Seafood Restaurant and Aunt Kate’s. Both these restaurants offer the best food experiences in Florida if you are a food enthusiast.

  1.  Martin County

On the east coast of Florida, you will find Martin County which will offer you a quick escape from stubborn traffic and congested beaches. The county’s distinctive vibe will help you embrace the beautiful environment that is pollutant free.

Amongst famous attractions is the Blowing Rocks whereby geyser effect is created which often erupts.  To reach this spectacular place you’ll need to reach to the Hobe Sound Beach after which you will need to trek to Blowing Rocks Preserve and have yourself a moment of life.

  1. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours

A five-minute ride to Orlando’s north, you will head straight to Winter Park. The place was made in 1938, and it navigates via pristine and popular Chain of Lakes.

There are numerous breathtaking nature views plus there are historical overviews of luxurious private estates and homes along shores.  This will give you visitors a nostalgic feeling.

Make sure you watch out for sunbathing alligators, paddleboard yoga and frequent water skiers. The whole experience can be enhanced and if you want you can rent a yacht for your family and friends from Miami Yacht Rental.

  1. The Kumquat Festival

Dade city of Florida celebrates kumquat. Kumquat Festival which is celebrated annually on January 27th is a festival that honors this sweet fruit of Dade City. Dade City is the largest supplier of kumquat.

Admission is absolutely free because this family event offers you a chance to taste different combinations of fruits. However, the hidden adventure is Kumquat Growers Open House which is held on January 26th and 25th which features grove tours and packinghouse.

  1. Day Away Kayak Tours

On the Space Coast of Florida, there is Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge which is a special and interesting kayak tour. While there is a twinkling of evening stars on a phenomenon called bioluminescence, the water glows below.

Minute organisms which live in water glow shine iridescent green after the water’s stirred up. With fish that dart there’s a glowing trail that is created with paddling strokes producing eerie mesmerizing nightlight wisps.  

Titusville’s Day Away Kayak Tours from May via September feature paddling trips in the nighttime.

  1. Ocola

It is Florida’s equestrian epicenter industry which is situated in Marion County which is at the center of Florida. It is habitat to over 70,000 horse farm acres of horse farms which are set amidst oak trees that are sprawling and green pastureland that is rolling.

The place is famous for horse riding and other related sports. The owner of the place is part of the fun which will not get a mention because she is part of the hidden treasure too.

Conclusion

Now that you have had a bucket list it’s interesting to know which you are opting to go for. Florida is a real wonder. Doesn’t matter if you are there on vacation or business, you never know where an adventure can take you.

But what if you need something more, or maybe less? How about, all you need is just to relax on the beach, to think nothing but a perfect tan and cool enough cocktail? The world is an open book – choose any all-inclusive hotel in Jamaica, Saint Lucia or Bahamas and make your adventure perfect for you. Pick your place, and let the journey begins!

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Adventure Travel

Thanks to Excursion Tourism, You Now Have Countless Adventures At Your Disposal

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The holiday season is upon us and most of us would be planning for large meals and stay-in family vacations at home, this is the norm and a yearly routine for most individuals.

But then there are those of us who know how to break from that routine while also keeping their sense of leisure intact. We are, of course, talking about planning various fun and outdoor activities with the people that we get together with over the holidays.

The activities could be as extensive as taking a complete vacation or as time-friendly as a quick weekend excursion just a few miles away. It is prudent to note that the latter trend of excursion and weekend tourism has gained significant traction lately due to the thrilling options that it brings to the table, while also keeping the average American’s busy schedule in mind.

 

Regardless of whether you are a large family reminiscent of the Brady Bunch or a very small group of people, you can still enjoy these short yet memorable trips with ease. With a large number of platforms facilitating these activities and providing various options to those who are interested in them, the process of putting your adventurous plans to fruition has never been easier.

While there are several options available in these excursions, there are two that stand out to most people in particular, largely because they offer activities that are highly adventurous while remaining easily accessible. Since both of these options are available from a local standpoint, tedious and time consuming logistical planning is not necessary.

 

Take a Skydive

Starting from Michigan City, Indiana, and ending around Illinois, this skydiving adventure is gaining popularity among locals in the vicinity as well as those who belong to adjacent states.

The reason behind it being so sought after is that it offers you the chance to jump down from 14,000 feet in the air and have a fall at 120 MPH – all while maintaining the highest of safety standards to ensure that you will have a fun yet healthy experience. At an affordable price and taking only a half day of your time, this truly remains an excursion that you as well as your family and friends would like to take.

What’s more is that it gives you plenty of pictures and a video of your experience, so you could relive it countless times in the future (and maybe come back for more).

 

Climb a Mountain With a Bed of Water Under You

This option which is available at Malibu, California, remains just as special for its scenic views as it is for its level of adventure. That is why it is also one of the most popular options for a weekend excursion to those who could manage the trip (getting to Malibu from even another city remains easy to accomplish).

What this trip offers is a chance for you to indulge into real life rock climbing at the Westward Beach Road in Malibu. With the sun shining bright as you spend the day conquering a mountain, not many experiences can hold up to this one. This adventure also practices safety precautions, where all activities are performed under an instructor certified by the Professional Climbing Guides Institute.

What’s also great about this option is that you’ll be provided with snack to keep your energy up while climbing the mountain.  We almost forgot to mention that you will also get climbing equipment to enjoy for the day, and proper rock climbing training that you could keep with you for the rest of your life.

 

The Options Are Only As Limited As Your Reach for Them

The choices for these short trips range from weekend getaways in the forest to a few hours’ adventure with the great white sharks in deep seawater.

Simply put, the choices are only as limited as your imagination –  all that you have to do is to pick a spot to visit with the kind of adventure you seek, and find yourself experiencing it within days or even hours, depending on your specific location.

 

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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...

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