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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda: January 17-18, 2023


We began both Gorilla Trek days with a morning lecture from the Park Service explaining what to wear, how to act, and that once the gorillas were located, we would have just one hour together. When we were near the gorillas, we all had to wear masks for protection of the gorillas. We would be with habituated Mountain Gorillas who had already been located by the park's trackers. The location could be 1-4 hours from the start of our trek. 

Mountain Gorillas have never been able to survive in zoos. They have specific habitat needs and only live in the rainforests of Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Today's forest is a mere remnant of a very large forest which once covered much of western Uganda, Rwanda, and eastern (DRC). Because of conservation efforts, the number of Mountain Gorillas has grown to about 1,000, and almost half live in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Eric drove us to the start of our trek where we found a line of porters waiting to be hired. Because it is school break, there was only one professional porter and the rest were university kids on school break. The cost to hire a porter is $20 plus tip. Porters will carry your bag, push/pull you up a hill, steady you, and make sure you don't fall or hurt yourself.

Porters for hire
The group consists of 8 Tourists (only 2 of us were from the US), the porters, the guide, the ranger (with gun), and trackers which are keeping track of the gorillas' whereabouts.

On this first day of trekking, we were tracking the 10-member Binyindo Group. The Silverback's name is Binyindo. He was born in 1988, and his name means "big nose." This trek began with a hill climb. I think it took about an hour to meet up with the trackers and the gorillas. The porters do not continue once the tourists get near the gorillas. They stay back with our packs and walking sticks.

Once we met up with the trackers and gorilla group, the gorillas were still moving which meant that we were moving through ferns, downed trees, vines, up and down hills, and I was worrying about fire ants and snakes.

Our photographic targets did not stand still and pose, leaves were often in the way, and it was really low light in the dense (impenetrable) rainforest.

Adult Female
Binyindo, the Silverback, in the center
Kagunju and baby Ihihizo born June 2021 

Near the end of our time, Binyindo lay down in an open area in a relaxed pose to allow us to admire him.

Shockingly, some of the people in our group moved in too close, took off their masks, and posed in front of this magnificent creature. Even Binyindo scratched his head and looked embarrassed about that one.

We survived Day 1
The second morning we visited the Habinyanja Group. While yesterday we were probably the oldest trekkers in the group, today, we might be the youngest or at least fitter than the rest of our group. 

For this gorilla trek we found one member of the gorilla family very quickly. The group has two Silverbacks and the second Silverback was grazing in a leafy meadow when we arrived. Others were hidden under foliage munching on leaves. As male gorillas mature, they develop a silverback. Males are called black backs before they mature to silver.

The 2nd Silverback
The 2nd Silverback
We worked our way up the hill and found more family members. The first Silverback was lounging with the group, but he stayed in the background and let the others be our focus. Mostly, we saw an Adult Female with her 6-month old baby. Also visible was an adolescent male. The young male was quite smitten with the baby and cuddled it whenever he could get the baby away from Mom.

Six-month old Baby Boy

The young male was very playful. At one point, he ran toward us. Since we were maybe 20 feet away, it didn't take very long for him to reach us. He tapped one guy on his leg and retreated. We backed away a few steps, but he came again and tapped Dan on the leg just to show he could do it. 

Adolescent Male Gorilla
Besides all the other issues in photographing gorillas in the forest, on this second trek I also had to contend with Gorilla Flies. Trackers know they are close to the gorillas when they see the flies. The flies showed up later in our hour and were between us and the gorillas so photos during that time came out with fuzzy spots from the swarming gorilla flies.

And, then our hour was up and we walked back to where Eric was waiting for us. Our Gorilla treks were exciting and neither was as hard as we imagined they could be. This is a once in a lifetime experience that we will both cherish.