Nothing can really describe what it feels like to be a part of a gorilla family, but I will try. The famous Bwindi was an amazing experience, but Mgahinga left me speechless.
After climbing to the Park’s headquarters (a scenic walk under in the shadow of Mount Muhabura) our guide led us up the slopes of this beautiful mountain.
Mgahinga National Park comprises of three extinct volcanoes, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo. Bordering on the DRC and Rwanda, it falls under the Virungas Conservation Area which gave it that magical feel before I even stepped into its forests.
Whilst Bwindi has around twenty habituated gorilla families, Mgahinga only has a single family that you can trek. When the family used to move across borders, it used to be pot luck whether you would find them, however they have recently settled on the Ugandan side of the border and do not look like they will be crossing again. The natural progress of the forest that was reclaimed from local farmers is now the permanent home of the Nyakagezi Family.
Made up of around ten individuals, this family has an uncommon occurrence with three silverbacks claiming the females as their own.
Upon finding the family we were greeted by barks and squeals as a squabble broke out between the alphas of the group. Some frantic chest beating and a mock charge by one of the silverbacks certainly got the blood pumping, but they soon settled down and allowed us an intimate and personal experience that we will never forget.
We became part of their family, we followed them through the undergrowth and in the open clearings we sat with them as they fed and groomed. Mark, the dominant silverback, came even closer than the clip in my Into the Wild video. As we sat on the ground watching him, he passed us so closely that if I had put my camera up to take a photo, it would have hit him straight on the forehead.
Paying little attention to us, the family allowed us to enjoy their company and I was rewarded with some great photographic opportunities.
With grins from ear to ear we made our descent on Muhabura and no matter how hard I try, words will never truly do an experience like this justice.
I hope you enjoy the moments I captured, thank you for looking.