Of course! The gorilla trekking experience in Uganda is worth all the money you’ll spend because once you sit a few meters from a four-hundred-pound silverback and his whole family, the world comes alive, and your view of the natural world is changed forever. You’ll then better relate with world creatures humans have so feared for thousands of years. The experience will stay will you for a lifetime, and that’s not the kind of thing you put a price tag on or buy at your favorite store.
I’ll tell you my own experience trekking mountain gorillas in tropical rainforest jungles of Uganda, a small East African country, sandwiched between giant African destinations. In Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the story goes:
My Gorilla Trekking experience with Uganda’s Gorillas
Like Mowgli, I took a deep breath, pushed the misty branch of leaves aside, and carried my heavy foot forward, pushing my excited self into the thick mystical African jungle. An oceanic feeling swept over me like a six-foot wave over a smooth rock at the beach. It felt like I was getting the absolute maximum out of life at that moment.
I put my second foot forward and another to tap into the heartbeat of the jungle; I had to get up close and personal with it. It isn’t the kind of experience you can glean from a car or bus window as the scenery rushes past you. No, to really dig into a place, there’s nothing so intimate as a thoughtful walking pace.
Meandering along at a footstep’s speed of the other hikers in front of me, I absorbed the emerald sights, smells, and sounds of the two million-year-old jungle. I fully imbibed the spirit of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and its inhabitants.
Our gorilla trekking group set out from the charming mountain town of Nkuringo, where life slows down to snail pace, and Batwa natives flourish on a kind of poverty that repels modern folk. After a brief stay to acclimate to the altitude, we embarked on our adventure onto the Bwindi forest floors.
We roamed the remote hills southwest of Kampala for the first three days—far from the crowds and civilization. We took trails where we never set sight on another Muzungu or trekking group. The trail was ours alone to share with the drifting jungle breeze and hardy farming folk who eke out their survival amidst the steep hillsides and high valleys of this bewitching mountain land.
These kinds of raw experience that get me actively involved in the land and its inhabitants are what makes traveling worth the money I spend. When I look in the far horizon and see everything unfamiliar and yet inviting, a new life blows into me and I step forward.
We tested our stamina, hiking many hours a day and traversing mountain passes to hidden sights in the park, all while taking in sweeping vistas of grassy hinterland surrounded by tantalizing misty ridges.
As our muscles grew strong, we also strengthened our spirits in a way that comes from being outside and exploring new lands. Far from cell and Internet range, we were forced to live entirely in the present, fully absorbing our surroundings
Every day brought a torrent of mind-blowing experiences that took us out of our comfort zone and opened our hearts and minds to a new view on life. We slaughtered a pig for a village feast. We had our futures read in some kind of mysterious leaves. We helped repair a remote school. We played soccer with local children on a top-of-the-world football pitch, sharing the unspoken joy of friendly competition. A local shaman accompanied us, serving as a spiritual guide and performing sacred rituals to bless and cleanse our eager souls.
Finally, we set out to meet our protagonist deep into the mystical jungle of Bwindi Impenetrable National park on day four. We glimpsed our destination through the mystical fog that drifted up the rugged ridge walls, lapping at the trees like dragon’s breath, as we hiked down to the entry point.
The detour up to this point was worth the money and time we spend because it aligned our expectations with what the destination can offer so that we ultimately get to experience the gorilla trekking activity with a balanced mindset.
Seeing the jungle as we approached, the mist would clear for a spell, giving us a brief peek of the primeval forest before once again obscuring her from view.