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.

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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

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