Gorilla Trekking, Bohoma, Monday 2nd February 2009

Gorillas in Uganda
After a civilised breakfast at 7.00am and registration procedures it was time for gorilla trekking, the main reason for coming to Uganda. The sky soon darkened and optimism for good photography faded. We sheltered from the rain and felt wet and damp for about 6 hours. Information about the location of gorillas, tracked from yesterday’s camp was relayed by walkie-talkie. Our chosen family of gorillas was going round in circles and zigzagging. There were rumours of inter-group fighting causing them to progress through the Bwindi forest in a haphazard manner. Sheltering under the trees we were trying to be optimistic by emphasizing only potentially good news. The rain stopped. We walked back down the path and waited. There was a sudden late rush along a rising “waterfall” path with some urgency under the dimming daylight. Our group did not reach the gorillas until 5.30pm leaving only about 40 minutes of available observation time. I wedged my camera into the v-branch of a tree to take a steadier shot as the low light meant blurry hand-held shots. The gorillas were active, feeding, playing, walking about and were less than four metres away. Some followed at the back and temporarily came even closer to us. The gorillas were luckily in a small clearing lying on a soft bed of vegetation. To reach where they had gathered I struggled through narrow spaces and sharp thorns along a steep slippery path. I remembered to stop taking pictures and just to enjoy the moment for a while. We reached base at dusk to receive our certificate of achievement. I was dehydrated and a little tired. The reception had closed quite early and I paid the waiter for my accommodation expenses. The place is much quieter tonight and I am actually alone now at the dining table by the paraffin lamp with noisy insects in the background. Another early start tomorrow and I hope to go most of the way back to Kampala before dropping south for the ferry to the Sese Islands. I just need to review my gorilla photos and hope there are one or two good ones. There were some environmental researchers at dinner. I am feeling quite satisfied. The small international community disassembled as quickly as it temporarily assembled never to be formed again.

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