Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Everyone always says how great seeing the gorillas is and they are right. The experience lives up to the hype. It is straight up there as one of the best highlights of my trip.

I was lucky. It all started after I left Palm Garden in Gisenyi and arrived at Le Bambou lodge in the small town of Kinigi, which is the jumping off point for the gorilla trekking. Le Bambou is a 5 star luxury lodge which, inexplicably, allows camping on its lawn for only ten dollars a night. I was the only camper amongst all the 250 dollar a night guests. The manager and all the staff treated me the same as everyone else. I had ginger tea served on arrival, free fruit on tap and three hot water bottles brought to my tent at night. Without doubt, it’s the best campsite ever. All of which makes me feel slightly bad about what happened during the middle of the night. I woke up around 1am desperately in need of the loo. Unfortunately, instead of the key for the toilet, the manager had given me the key for the shower by mistake. I felt bad but I had no choice!! I left quietly….and without showering this morning.

I turned up at the park office at 7am. I was the only person without transport and was told that I would need to befriend someone and join up with their group. By extreme luck the first group I spoke to were a bunch of Americans who had donated (paid) an obscene amount to be the lucky group that was to see the Susa gorilla family.

Consisting of 33 gorillas, the Susa group is the largest group and the one that everyone wants to see. It has three large silverbacks, two sets of juvenile twins and a 1 day old baby!!  It is also the hardest group to see. We trekked for 5hrs in the rain through thick forest consisting of mostly bamboo and stinging nettles before we contacted them. Mercifully the rain stopped just as the clock started ticking on our allotted hour with the family. It really is impossible to describe how it feels to see gorillas in the wild. We spent an hour watching them eating, playing and preening each other. We were told to keep 5 metres away, but it was obvious the gorillas hadn’t been told this, or didn’t care, as they often walked within a few inches of our feet. It is staggering at how comfortable and willing they are to allow us into their world. I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour of my life. Well…..ok, maybe I can……but you get the idea. It was good. Very good.

I will leave it up to the pictures to tell the rest of the story. I have some amazing video footage which I can’t wait to show. Hopefully I will find fast enough internet before I get back to blighty.

I’m in Uganda now. First impressions are that it’s cold and wet and very green. A bit like late February in England. It should get better though.

p.s having trouble uploading pics. They should be available here


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