The gorillas of Uganda
Jessica and Jarrod Bryce take to the skies on a selffly adventure over africa, culminating in Uganda, on the trail of the country’s most impressive residents.
it’s been nearly two hours since we set out on this crude track through the dense jungle of Bwindi impenetrable national Park, crafted by the handful of adventurers that have come before us. The morning sun is shrouded by the tangled canopy above and – ignoring our puffing and panting as we struggle up the steep, slippery path – the forest floor is blissfully still and peaceful.
We hadn’t pictured this aspect of the journey – the quiet majesty, the impenetrable nature of the park (although we should have guessed from the name), the hard work soon to be rewarded – when we decided to trek in search of Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas; we were just looking for the ultimate bucket-list experience that would be the finale of our threeweek airborne african adventure.
We’ve already crossed three countries – Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe – skimming over the heads of zebra, buffalo, impala and even semisubmerged hippo in our four-seat Cessna, and warding off hungry-looking lions as we secured our plane on dusty airstrips.
at home in the wilderness it had been a hair-raising flight in from entebbe, landing atop a mist-soaked mountain at 8000 feet in an experience that flew in the face of all my training as a pilot. a shrill voice in my head screamed, “should we be flying through this cloud when we are so close to the ground?”, while my wife chose to express her terror by carving her fingernails into my forearm.
of course, those thoughts seem outrageous now. We descended through the cloud without incident and less than two hours later we were comfortably ensconced around a welcoming fire at sanctuary gorilla forest Camp, only the sounds of the jungle around us as we listened, rapt, while our fellow guests gushed about their own recent encounters with Uganda’s great apes.
The lodge is an outpost of civilisation and sanctuary retreats’ impeccable service in the depths of the World heritage-listed national park. indeed, the camp is so remote that gorillas will occasionally take it upon themselves to track the humans residing within the eight permanent safari tents.
We’re not quite so fortunate to see such errant primates during our stay, but we still feel immersed in the life of the jungle as we spot swooping birds and other wildlife from the comfort of our balcony and deep-soaking bathtub.
it’s a jungle out there The tales recounted by our fellow guests fill us with nervous expectation about our own meeting with the mountain gorillas. With fewer than 1000 of these