Home Of Uganda’s Last Mountain Gorillas
Rain set in once we arrived in the small village of Buhoma, site of the National Park’s headquarters. This worried us endlessly: trekking through the forest is difficult enough, but in ankle-deep mud? Besides, Gorillas do not like rain and hide in the dense forest. Even if you find them, making decent photos would be simply impossible. In the grotty, horrible room of the Bwindi View Camp, we hoped for decent weather for the next morning.
Like eager beavers, we were the first to arrive at the headquarters. Within minutes we drove off to the trailhead, puzzled because it was just the two of us, together with four rangers. A group usually consists of 7 to 8 tourists, plus guide and an armed guard. Riddle solved, due to overbooking we left with the trackers, way before the other tourists started.
As we expected, we stumbled through dense rainforest, ploughed our bodies through scrubs that closed over our heads. Even the sun was out! But we became increasingly annoyed. After four hours the trackers seemed clueless, going in one direction, coming back, starting in another one. Our enthusiasm about being alone with the ranger gave way to a feeling of being treated unfairly. Why did we have to do our own tracking? Tourists usually simply have to follow the trackers direction. Of course, this can also take hours, but at least you know the gorillas are there.
Then everything happened really fast! We heard loud grunts and chest – beating. Our rangers nervously talked into their walkie-talkies. Our gorilla group was very near but so was a wild one, not habituated like the ones visitors track. What we had heard were the two silverbacks trying to intimidate each other, keeping the other group away. The rangers worried about an unpleasant encounter, making even viewing impossible.