There’s a variety of tours that are available to experience the gorillas but I highly recommend a flight from Kampala on a small plane which took us approx 1.5 hours (vs a 10 hour bus ride) to get to Kihihi where we were met by our tour guide.
The drive from Kihihi to Bwindi Imoenetrable Forest was another insightful journey, woman wandered along carrying sticks and other essentials, kids laughed and played in the dirt, some people wandered the dusty road wearing their Sunday finest on their way to church.
Local villagers were hunched over tending to their crops, some were checking on the drying process of their coffee beans which were laid out in the full sun on a black mat, others were picking leaves from the tea plantations and bananas from trees, everyone was busy living.
I waved and smiled as I drove past families and kids who laughed and waved back to me with a great enthusiasm. Again while I wasn’t stoppi and meeting the people, I got a real sense of happiness of the young and somewhat of an arduous struggle by the older folk in the villages.
After a 40 minute drive I was overcome with emotion and excitement as I saw the sign ‘Bwindi Impenetrable Forest’…
I was here, the place that had been a longstanding dream for me. From the time I was a kid that loved nature and the outdoors and got captivated by the birth of baby Mzuri at the Melbourne Zoo and in later years while working at the zoo taking people on tours and overnight camps where I’d often get excited with visitors in my tour while talking about these incredible animals or while filling in some time by going and watching them for hours on end.
Driving through the forest to our amazing lodge, I peered out the window statue large mountain nearby knowing that somewhere out there family groups of mountain gorillas wandered through the thick forest searching for food, playing, resting bringing a smile to my face.
On arrival at Buhoma Lodge, a beautiful rustic lodge set into the forest, a monkey wandered through the property as if it was part of our official welcome party and to remind us that we were in a World Heritage Forest.
We were warmly welcomed with a wet towel to freshen up and a juice while our very friendly host Titan gave us an insightful introduction to the Lodge and the incredible place we were in.
We were then escorted up the steep steps to our lodge which overlooked the property and gave us views through the trees of the thick forest opposite, home to half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, 350+ bird species (Uganda is known as the bird capital of Africa) forest elephants, chimpanzees and other monkeys, antelope and more.
We sat and reflected on where we were and chatted about our adventures ahead while taking in the views as we sipped on a nice coffee prepared by the staff and snacked on some homemade cookies… Looking across to the surrounding mountains and forest, I couldn’t help but feel that the forest was talking to me, there was a real aura about this place and a connection that I can’t describe… I was in my happy place…