gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda: Cat’s story

Published by

“Suddenly, we heard a loud grunt and one of our guides pointed to the clearing ahead. We crept forward, trying to keep our footsteps as light and as quiet as possible. And then we saw them: a family of gorillas, lounging in the sun and grooming each other’s fur.”


Cat, our wonderful Uganda specialist here at HA, has just returned home from her latest visit to her beloved Uganda. And this time she took her new husband Ian along with her! Below, she shares the story of her gorilla trekking adventure…


Gorilla trekking in Uganda

Our gorilla trekking in Uganda adventure began earlier that day, when we headed to the gorilla trekking base in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Whilst waiting for our permits to be confirmed (they’re really strict about visitor numbers to ensure the gorillas and their habitat are protected), we were treated to some fantastic community dances and songs by the women in the local community.

This is all part of an initiative called ‘Ride 4 a Woman’, founded to uplift and empower the women in the Bwindi community. We love knowing our travels are having a positive impact on the places we visit here at HA, so this was such a lovely, meaningful way to start the day.

Bwindi Community Project


Soon, it was time to head off. We were split into groups of 8, and all headed off into separate areas of the park. There are only 6-7 gorilla troops in this region and each troop only has one group of explorers visit them per day. The trackers keep an eye on the troops to make sure they’re safe, so we started our adventure with a drive to a slightly different part of the forest.


Gorilla trekking in Uganda landscape


As I stepped off the truck and headed towards the dense jungle, my adrenaline was already pumping with the mixture of excitement and trepidation. I was actually doing it, I was heading off on a gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda, arguably one of the most awe-inspiring encounters you can have in this part of the world.

The memory of the slightly painful early alarm call was a distant one already.


Gorilla trekking in Uganda


The hike

Before we knew it, our group was hiking through the thick wilderness, led by our two fantastic guides. We followed narrow paths, hacked our way through the thorny undergrowth and made our way across shallow streams – all the while keeping our eyes peeled and our ears open for any signs of the gorillas.

The sounds of the forest made the best backdrop to any hike I think I’ve ever been on. There were the laughing howls of monkeys and an orchestra of birdsong that all seemed to get louder with every step.

There’s no telling how far you’ll have to trek to get a glimpse of the gorilla troop. It could be an hour, or it could be eight! It could be fairly flat, or you could be clambering up rocks and down steep slopes. We were somewhere in between: we had to climb up a few steep sections, with loose soil and slippery rocks to navigate, grabbing onto vines to keep our balance. But, it wasn’t long before we spotted our first signs of the gorillas: fresh tracks, broken branches and piles of dung that our guides identified immediately. We were getting closer, and our hearts were racing with anticipation.


Gorilla trekking in Uganda

Getting closer…

After another hour or so of trekking (if you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll probably know by now that I have a reputation for being the most active member of the HA team! So, I would have happily adventured through the forest for longer!) our guides signaled for us to stop and be silent. They knew we were close.

The guides led the way, cautiously placing their feet, expertly navigating the thick undergrowth and scanning the trees for any movement. Suddenly, we heard a loud grunt and one of our guides pointed to the clearing ahead. We crept forward, trying to keep our footsteps as light and as quiet as possible. Gorilla trekking in Uganda has been on my list for so long, and we were doing it!


Gorilla trekking Uganda

And then we saw them: a family of gorillas, lounging in the sun and grooming each other’s fur.

Our guide told us to pop our face masks on at this point. They introduced this after the pandemic to protect the gorillas as much as possible from any viruses.

Ian and I looked at each other as our breath caught in our throats. It’s hard to overexaggerate what a special feeling it is to be so close to these magnificent creatures. There were two females and two babies sat on the ground together, dining on a healthy lunch of figs.



An encounter we’ll never forget

Then, we spotted the silverback. He was slightly up a tree and absolutely massive. His enormous back muscles rippled under his shiny black fur as his deep-set eyes moved to look in our direction. We were careful to not stare right at him – one of the tips from our guides – you don’t want to make it seem like a stand-off! I’m not sure I breathed for the whole time he was looking our way, but despite his intimidating presence, there was an overwhelming sense of calm and peace that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.



Gorilla trekking in Uganda


As we stood there, silently observing, our guide quietly explained that if the gorillas moved in our direction, it was up to us to get out of their way. ”If you don’t move, they’ll move you!” were his exact words. I didn’t need to be told twice!


We spent an hour with the troop in total, watching them play, eat and interact with each other. It was a mesmerising experience that I really think everyone should try and experience in their lifetime. I felt truly privileged to be in their presence. At one point, one of the cheeky babies climbed up a tree and perched on a branch, gazing down at us all with curiosity whilst munching on his figs. It was so wonderful to see him so close (I did have to dodge a falling fig or two though!)


Gorilla trekking in Uganda

All too soon, our hour with the gorilla family came to an end and our guide signaled at us that it was time to leave. I could have stayed all day, but as we started our trek out of the forest, I couldn’t help but beam about the encounter we’d just had. It would be impossible to spend any time in the company of these spectacular creatures and not come away with a renewed sense of wonder and respect for our world and the wildlife in it.


What an experience

After a little while, we emerged from the thick jungle and were greeted by a warm breeze and the sound of birdsong. We had a sit down on a rock to give us the opportunity to process what we’d just experienced. Sat there in the Ugandan wilderness, surrounded by the incredible landscape, we soaked up as much of it all as we could. Both myself and Ian turned to each other and said the same thing: “This was an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Gorilla trekking in Uganda isn’t just a thrill-seeking experience. It’s an opportunity to really connect with something bigger and more profound than our everyday lives. It’s a chance to get amongst nature and remind ourselves that we’re not separate to it, we really are a part of it. It’s a call to action to ensure we’re all doing our bit to protect our world’s nature and all of the incredible creatures that live within it.

gorilla trekking in Uganda


If you’re looking to head off on your own African adventure, I’d love to chat to you more about it if gorilla trekking in Uganda is on your life wishlist (and if it isn’t, it should be!) Don’t forget to pack plenty of water, sun cream and a cap to protect yourself from the branches, sun, and the falling figs!!



If you want to chat to Cat about your very own Uganda adventure, give her a call on 01242 253 073 or email her at [email protected] – she’s got many more stories to share!




Get a quote for gorilla trekking in Uganda holiday