A Vivid Encounter with Mountain Gorillas

Mountain Gorilla

A mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest appraises human visitors. Photo taken by Petra Kilian-Gehring on an Ujuzi safari.

Last week, I ran across this wonderful account of a Ugandan mountain gorilla trek in The Wall Street Journal. It captures the entire experience so well – from the challenging hike  through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (it’s called impenetrable for a reason, but thankfully machetes help clear a narrow path) to the elation you experience upon seeing a gorilla family. The reporter did a great job of relating the sense of connection you feel when encountering mountain gorillas. I was especially struck by this comment:

It has been said that making eye contact with mountain gorillas gives you the distinct sense that they possess self-awareness. But what captured my attention—and made them seem very much like humans—was how they used their hands.

She also talks about the pragmatic details of a trek, such as what to wear and the basics of human-gorilla etiquette. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s curious about what it’s like to see mountain gorillas in the wild, and a great way to rekindle fond memories for those who have been lucky enough to go on a trek!

  • Tracking Mountain Gorillas in Uganda: Embark on a great ape escape in the southwestern part of the country to catch a glimpse of the endangered, endearing animal. By Robin Kawakami.
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