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HomeTravelA place to go: Kampala, Uganda (Gorilla Trek)

A place to go: Kampala, Uganda (Gorilla Trek)

Imagine reaching back to your roots, but not the ones traceable by Ancestry or 23andMe, the roots that priests and most religions refuse to acknowledge. Visualize yourself sleeping in a bed made of leaves underneath the star-speckled night sky as the belches of the gorillas just a few yards away, carry you to sleep. What would you say if I told you that adventure could awaken a primal part of yourself that even you didn’t realize you had? 

Gorilla trekking is something that can truly bring a person back to earth, by grounding them in the beauty and truth of what scientists believe are our evolutional roots. Gorilla trekking is an adventure that comes with both excitement and an immense amount of pre-planning. Three countries have trekking tours: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Congo. Many testimonials claim that Uganda is both the best price and the safest option for those who are lusting after this adventure. 

Before your arrival, you will need to buy a Gorilla trekking permit for the country of Uganda. Given the high demand for gorilla permits, you are advised to secure your gorilla trekking permit at least six months before you set off for your actual trek especially if you are looking to take a gorilla safari during the peak months of June – September. Each permit will cost approximately USD 700. The money received by Uganda in exchange for the trekking permits supports the beautiful National Parks you’ll soon be experiencing as well help with both neighboring communities and gorilla conservation. 

Those who have gone in the past, recommend that you book with a tour company, especially if traveling alone. The tour company will ensure a seamless experience. You can secure one through a trustworthy, reliable ground tour operator in Uganda or a reservation office at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)Many former trekkers recommend you pack with preparedness in mind. Seeing that the trek will occur in a rainforest calls for a recommendation of both a rain poncho and heavy-duty, waterproof hiking shoes.

Upon your initial arrival in Kampala, you will either need to drive 10 hours to reach the Bwindi National Forest, or you can also take a short flight. The Bwindi National Forest is a large primeval forest that’s home to at least seventeen gorilla families, located in southwestern Uganda. In the forest, you will hopefully see the Silverback gorilla. It is important to note that there are no guarantees of gorilla spottings. They tend to live high in the mountains and can be found in only two protected parks in Africa. They can also be known as Mountain gorillas. 

As the day of your adventure rises with the sun, be sure to triple-check your backpack and ensure you have absolutely everything you need. Travelers gather at park head office at 7:30 a.m. where park rangers guide small groups with a maximum of 8 people per tour group into the forest to hopefully get even a seconds glance of the grand gorillas, you’ve waited so long to see. As your anticipation builds to go into the forests, you’ll get briefed on the set rules, and regulations that you’ll have to abide by during the trek. Some of the rules include age restrictions, maintaining a safe space, and how to act if you feel unsafe. Before entering the ‘Gorilla Zone’, staff members make sure hands and feet are sanitized multiple times to maintain safety and strict hygiene standards, keeping the gorillas’ health in mind. 

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is relatively hard as it involves walking through thick forests, valleys, hills, and swamps; it can be challenging for those who aren’t the fittest and can lead to exhaustion. But it can also be one of the most grounding experiences that the human species gets to experience. With treks that range from an hour-long to last a week, the gracefulness of a gorilla is one that observers consider unmatched. 

Tonight when you fall asleep, think about how the sky would look different if you were lying on a bed of leaves, think about the air feeling lighter as you grow closer to your inner child, and dream of being greeted by echoes of belches sounding off down the mountain. Plant yourself in that scene, and you’ll feel your roots.



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