I recently spent, with PK, 26 days away from Ordinary Life, mostly in Uganda or South Africa. Of those, three rate as among my best days ever. I will attempt to describe them in this and coming posts, plus offer more glimpses into life beyond how it's usually experienced in rural Oregon, or the USA in general. First off...Gorilla Tracking!
Slipping and sliding on a steep tropical mountainside searching for gorillas never occurred to me as even a remote possibility until a few months back when "gorilla tracking" was offered as an option by our volunteer itinerary planner, anthropologist, cultural/historical consultant, and all around brilliant person, Kara Blackmore. Did we get lucky, or what? Not just for seeing gorillas really really close, but in having a learned person such as Kara planning our trip and spending several narrative-packed days with us. We said Hell Yes! to gorillas, and Kara paid the $500 per person permit fee on our behalf. (A portion of that fee goes to the surrounding impoverished communities for education and healthcare, and to encourage habitat preservation.)
Looking in the direction of the Biwindi Impenetrable National Park from the Silverback Lodge, where we stayed, some 52 kilometers (32+ miles) from where tracking began. We got up at 4:30 a.m. to drive THREE HOURS on what PK describes as a Class 5 FWD road to arrive on time for the gorilla tracking briefing.
|Ok. Where's the path?|
|I was thrilled and surprised to actually swing on a jungle vine! |
Lucky I was wearing my Life is Good hat. Our trek was short compared to many I've heard described. If you decide to go, be sure you're physically prepared. The terrain is demanding.
|Expressions of delight and awe play on our faces as gorillas move around us.|
|We were only a half hour into the trip when we spied this guy.|
Seeing him so close took my breath away.
|This fellow, a young male, made a noisy and spirited charge in our direction, but backed off quickly, |
as young males of many species are known to do.
|A baby gorilla, mama nearby, cavorts.|
|A ranger with a machete and a Bob Marley backpack helps clear the way with his machete.|
Gorilla tracking provides much-needed jobs for villagers.
Porters rotate, sharing the wealth of $10 to $20 a day,
|For most trackers, it's all about photography, and the guides go out of their|
way to clear visual lines to the gorillas.
|PK having the time of his life. It was magical indeed.|