I have just returned from my return visit to Uganda, this time with my closest friend Kathy (only known as such in Uganda) having completed an epic 1600 km road trip from Entebbe to Lake Bunyonyi (meaning little birds), Bunyonyi to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, on to Fort Portal and the Amabere Caves, up to the stunning Murchison Falls, then back towards Kampala (for a very fun night out) via the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Jinja and the source of the white Nile.
Honestly, the journey this time bordered on abuse of the senses, so rich a trip was it. An indescribable collection of experiences that can only be conveyed by saying – You just have to go! (and as soon as you can). This country quite literally grips your soul.
I want to focus on one key part of the adventure for the moment though and that is my return to the Mountain gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; this time to ‘M’ (Mubare) Group, made up of 16 gorillas.
M Group was a wholly different experience to my H group encounter last November (link to first blog) in that 2 silverbacks manage to live in what seems rather laid-back harmony. We came across the first of the two, chilled and being groomed by an attentive female in relaxed bliss just 2 or 3 metres in front of us.
We climbed on, our trackers with machetes clearing thickly vegetated and thorny forest ahead of our group of 8 and then bam, there they were, the whole family, playing, fake (juvenile) and real (adult) mating, rough and tumbling, chest beating, eating, wandering around and totally unperturbed by our presence. Kathy stood transfixed, eyes wide and sparkling – I watched her face and body language as she stood stock still while a mid-sized male walked right up to her, gave her leg an ultra soft punch then leapt off playfully back to the others. She looked to me, beamed and mouthed ‘wow’.
Then, from behind a tree close to me came the first alpha male; a hefty black back, more threatening than the two silver backs combined, shoulders strong, face serious. He stopped 2 metres away, lay down on his side posing gracefully before carefully cleaning out his nose with a leathery digit and inspecting the fruits of his labours (I giggled inside). He stood and walked towards me, brushing past my right leg – I could literally have stroked his back as he passed; exhilarating doesn’t even come close.
After some time watching the family in their relaxed play together we left, made our way back to the lunch spot by a gentle stream and herd of large horned Ankole cows. We ate and sat, absorbing and processing our precious experiences, unable for some time to speak before our long trek back to base.
Beautiful Uganda. May the adventure continue.