Sixty Minutes of Solitude with Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas

Article by Alaina McGregor of Jandals & A Backpack

Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to half of the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas.

Mountain gorilla in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

As they live in dense jungle, it can take an often arduous trek to find them. You need a good base level of fitness as a return trip can take anywhere from two to eight hours.

endangered mountain gorilla eating

Once reaching them, you’re allowed only one hour to observe these majestic creatures. The older gorillas are happy to munch their way through foliage while calmly watching you back. Younger members swing and rustle from above and call down. They’re cheeky, but they’re so cute that they know they can get away with it. If you are lucky the dominant silverback may make an appearance as he proudly looks over his family.

Looking into the soulful eyes of a gorilla
Photo by Alaina McGregor.

Truly one of life’s humbling and mesmerizing experiences.

Laurel’s note: I completely agree with Alaina’s experience after observing the gorillas in Rwanda, I felt truly humbled and grateful. It’s cheaper to observe mountain gorillas in Uganda – $500 at time of writing compared to $750 in Rwanda. The other key difference is that in Rwanda you can choose whether to visit a troop that is a short, medium or long distance away. You’re assigned a troop based on your preferred distance. In Uganda you choose the troop in advance, then hike to reach them. You won’t know in advance how far you’re hiking, as it will depend on how the troop is traveling. That’s why, as Alaina said, it’s important to be reasonably fit since you don’t know how far you will be hiking. However far you’re hiking, it will very likely be uphill – they’re not called mountain gorillas for nothing.

About the Author/Photographer: Alaina McGregor of Jandals & A Backpack is a nomad Kiwi who likes to share her tips for backpacking on a budget. She counts hefting her backpack around the globe as part of her regular fitness regime and has a passion for volunteering and collecting passport stamps.

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