To give you an idea how close we were, take a look at these:
The trip should have been called ‘Walking with Gorillas’ – we were surrounded by up to 14 of these gentle creatures for an hour+ as they munched on their leaves and their babies played in the trees. It felt like Ben’s relationship with the guides (and fact that they were all Manchester United fans) meant we got extra special treatmeat, cutting individual routes for us to the center of the Gorillas and educating us constantly. Front seat, National Geographic stuff, an experience unlike any other. Please enjoy this video of the whole Gorilla family.
I shared by WhatsApp this once in a lifetime experience with my Brother and got back “I see you lost a bit of weight and need a shave”. Wise ass.
The enormous male silverback knew he was boss and we knew that our guides were keeping us just our side of the line. Difficult to describe why he let us come so close and the best I can come up with is he liked the company. Plus I thought he took a liking to Natalia with her floral head-band.
From a Gorilla encounter perspective we hit the jackpot. But this marked the pinnacle of an unforgettable experience in Uganda. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is 300 sq/km of forest guarded with great pride by the Ugandan people. The name is very appropriate as the foliage is dense and lush, and it reminded me of my fathers wardrobe: old (this forest survived the ice age) and a kaleidoscope of greens and browns colors with a faint musty smell. The walk to the forest was incredible.
Knowing how remote these mountains are (remember it was a 12-hour drive from Entebbe) I was expecting basic accommodation. But the lodge was a collection of private wooden chalets, perched on the ledge of a cliff with floor to ceiling windows on 3 walls overlooking the valley and the Bwindi Forest. The main lodge hall, lawn with deck chairs and fire pits were at the top with panoramic views.
When we arrived Big Ben and I had our much talked about beer (under the disapproving gaze of Mrs. W) but failed to make a night of it as we were all tired from the drive. But although it was very tempting to return to the luxury of the lodge after the Gorilla trekking I saw an opportunity for a more authentic beer experience and asked Ben to find us a local bar. There was only us three and the two tour guides, Steven (the tour lead) and Isaac (who had taken such great care of us) in Ben’s van so we didn’t feel like obtrusive tourists.
Ben encouraged me to challenge the girls in the bar to a game of pool and, after a few beers, we were all having a blast. It was so enjoyable to spend some social time with Steven and Isaac who seemed to truly enjoy the detour. And I was good, winning my first two games and prancing around like pool hustler. So the girls called the local champion and it went down to black ball and I was robbed, unluckily potting the cue ball. I love these pictures;