Gorillas in the mist

On the road again for 7 hours between Lake Mburo and Bwindi Impenetrable Nation Park – an ‘african massage’ on roads that gets washed away during the rainy season. Incredible what can be transported on these roads. Arriving at the Rushaga Gorilla Camp with sore bodies we got a massage and could enjoy our ‘tent’ in the middle of the forest. Not like a tent I have ever seen before, the most luxurious tent with a porch with a view over the national park and the steep hills with farmland. We are 2.000 meters above sea level.

Early next morning in the mist we set out to find and get close to the mountain gorillas – a group of 8 tourists, our guide, 2 rangers with AK47’s (just in case) and several porters. Armed with walking sticks and the help from our porters we began walking downhill on the steep and slippery slopes. Taking only small steps on the hillside with 30-60 degrees drop.

When you walk like this your toes gets pushed to the front of your shoes making your toes ache. Your legs are shaking trying to avoid falling. Your brain is overloaded trying to focus so much on keeping your balance. After spending a couple of hours walking down and down and down everybody was tired, almost exhausted.

Luckily the Nkuringo gorilla family was not far away and within a few minutes we got so close to them we could almost touch them. If we hadn’t been so tired after the walking, we would have cried. I was the most fantastic experience I have ever had. The family has 14 members 2 of them silverbacks and 2 baby gorillas. They didn’t care about us, hardly noticed us.

We stayed at least an hour with these beautiful creatures before we had to leave them and say goodbye. They are endangered and must be protected, only a few permits are given every day to visit them.

After a short break for lunch we began the walk – remember we had to climb the same steep slopes we came from. Already tired from the walk downhill it was a struggle for many of us. I had to give up halfway up the hills. Instead I was carried out in a stretcher.

Amazing team – 12 men came running (running!) downhill on the same slopes we had walked on with baby steps. 3 teams of 4 men took turns in carrying me uphill. They walked fast and switched places without even stopping on the way. Sofie’s work as a waiter in a 4-storage building turned out to be the best preparation – she completed the climb uphill and wasn’t even exhausted, only a bit tired. Impressive.

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2 Responses

  1. Lisa Howell says:

    Sofie also has the wondrous gift of youth on her side! I’m glad you knew when to “give up”- that is real strength. xo

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