Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Apparently gorillas fart a lot...

...though I guess I'd be pretty gassy if I spent 6 hours a day eating leaves and twigs.

Gorilla trekking has definitely been a highlight of the trip so far! We left bright and early Sunday morning to head 6 1/2 hours (according to Google Maps) to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Twelve hours later, we arrived at our camp. I guess Google Maps doesn't take unpaved, muddy roads into account when calculating drive times!

We were up bright and early to meet with our guide the next morning to hike this mountain.
Looking at the photo, this mountain seems deceptively small. It wasn't. Either that, or I'm just really out of shape! For the first hour and a half we followed a well maintained path, but then our path turned into this...
It's called the Impenetrable Forest for a reason! 

Thankfully the actual tracking of the gorillas is done by scouts that leave before we do and radio their location to our guides. After about 2 1/2 hours, we found the Mubare family chillin' in the forest and munching on some leaves. 
This is the silverback, Kanyonyi

Malaika in the background
Kanyonyi just chillin'
Kashundwe, a female of the group. She was in heat and didn't appreciate us being anywhere near Kanyonyi.

When we returned to Buhoma, we were invited to children's dance performances at Bwindi Orphans' Development Center. Dancing has been one of the community's way to give the children constructive activities. They also fund the children's schooling through donations. Seeing things like this center cause such inner conflict. You  realize that you are one only person (whose net worth is a negative six figures), but you still want to do anything you can to help. Ughh... we talked a lot about that conflict we all felt, but I don't know that we reached any good conclusions. 

So after one more night in the gloriously cool forest (so cold I had to use a blanket!) we made the 12 hour trek back to Kampala yesterday. All in all, hanging out with the gorillas was expensive, a long drive, and exhausting, but definitely worth it! 

The view from the restaurant at our lodge

1 comment:

  1. What a great experience in Uganda, Mara. If you haven't seen the movie "The Last King of Scotland," about the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, I urge you to do so. It's especially relevant because the protagonist is a fresh young doctor from Scotland who becomes Amin's physician and head of the Ugandan medical service.

    I got a laugh about the gorillas' farting. That didn't occur to me because in the nature films I've seen on gorillas they don't fart, unless they do so very quietly.

    In one documentary the gorilla band went to a bamboo grove to eat the pulp, which they love. A female sat down in front of a stand of bamboo, took one sizable stalk and snapped it with ease, then stripped the bamboo away from the pulp. Their strength is phenomenal, especially silverbacks that can reach 450 lbs. Isn't it interesting that some of the most powerful animals like elephants, rhinos, and gorillas are vegetarians.

    On balance it's good that the gorillas are that remote so that their existence is more private and perhaps safer. It appears that this gorilla band has become acclimated to the presence of curious humans. Otherwise a silverback who senses a threat can instantly be really dangerous.--Uncle Bill