For me it was not a culture shock when I arived into Uganda as I have visited many under privileged countries. Although I was taken back with the warm welcome and extremely friends Ugandan people.
Every where our group travelled we were warmly welcomed by Ugandan children laughing and waving to our vehicle, reaching out to touch our hands in greeting. The hospitality of these people really added to the experience and made the trip worthwhile.
The highlight of our trip was tracking, visiting and spending time with a mysterious mountain Gorilla Family. We set off on our hike through the junge, trudging through the dense jungle foliage to find them, Uganda is home to the noble, but critically endangered mountain gorilla, and tracking gori
llas is no easy task as they are contstantly on the move and on some occassions it can take up to seven hours of walking to find them. Luckily for us we spotted a family of gorillas after only walking for 2 hours. The walk in itself was an amazing experience through dense forest and rolling planes.
We had been tracking a large family of 14 gorillas – several females, 1 enormous silverback, several juvaniles and a baby of 14 months. When we finally arrived after trudging through thick jungle to an open field I could hardly beleive my eyes, when I saw this huge silver back within metres of myself and the guide. I tried to wave and signal to the group but the words would not come out of my mouth, I was totally gobsmacked. Whilst the adjuts took the weight off their feedt and sat about eating, sleeping and scratching for food the juvaniles aged between 12-16 years frolicked and wrestled amoungt themselves, whilst the 14 month old practiced his skills at climbing trees mostly failing and falling to the ground, not to be defeated he constantly tried until his efforts were rewarded and he found himself sitting high on a branch looking down at his siblings. thinking how do I get down.
With so few mountain gorillas remaining in the world this was an incredibly emotional moving experience and we felt so privileged to have spent an hour in their company. The money tourists pay into companies that practice cultural tours really helps the Rwandan economy, providing jobs and money for local communities. These jobs act as a barrier against non-sustainable activities, such as poaching, helping to conserve Rwanda’s wildlife, with mountain gorilla numbers recently rising, and providing a better life for these amazing animals. It is a truly rewarding and uplifting experience, that I recommend to be on everyone’s bucket list.