Their blood froze. They couldn’t move. A gorilla was there, a noble creature of the jungle yawned in the noonday sun. He was only fifty yards away, and it was a scene that fascinated a small group of rainforest visitors.
The silverback, about two, three, or four feet tall, weighing about 200 kilos, stood and watched around. He saw them! They gaped in awe combined with fear. But he didn’t move towards them! He walked lazily from tree to tree, deftly grabbed branches with long limbs, and ate green leaves.
The visitors stunned. Their feelings swirled. What to indulge, to fear or admiration? The gorilla alpha male lazily chewed leaves and raised his head. “It’s a male. That is well seen by the silver stripe on his back. He feels he is not alone,“– Tarasis Bitesi (35), a local safari guide, explained the behavior of the gorilla. He knew that rainforest and its inhabitants’ behavior like the back of his hand.
We are in Uganda, an African country that Churchill once called the Pearl of Africa. Uganda is an equatorial country in East Africa. Because of the favorable climate, the exchanging of sun and rain, greenery flourishes everywhere, Uganda is one of the world’s greenest and the most exciting countries.
There are lush rainforests everywhere on its soil, in the west, there is the mountain massif Ruwenzori (5109 m), and on the east the volcano Elgon 4321 meters high. In the central part of Uganda is a swampy plain inhabited by crocodiles and hippos. The wetland area is home to many migratory birds that fly to warm African regions during the winter. Uganda is a country where many animals live playfully and ruthlessly. In the savannah, an area of low grassland with sparse forests, the laws of lions, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, buffaloes, and many birds rule. One of the most exciting parts of Uganda is the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, whose beauty has to be explored yet.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
A group of curious visitors obsessed with untouched nature and wildlife joined Tarasis on the way to the rainforest. They wanted to track gorillas and because of that desire, they had to go deeper into the forest. “Gorillas are most like to humans in their behavior,”– said Tarasis. “This Ugandan rainforest is a world unto itself, far from civilization and people. The laws of wild animals and nature rule it. It is ruthless towards a man if he rejects its requirement. It is necessary to treat the natural world with deep respect. Only in this way, one can experience unforgettable experiences. “
The road to gorilla habitats was difficult to cross. The jeep transferred a small group of visitors to the place where Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park began. They had to cross a very demanding part of the forest, bumpy any muddy, especially that part covered with fallen, slippery leaves that slowed their walking.
Uganda is one of those heavenly places on the globe where the sun and rain alternate, encouraging the growth of tall, uneven trees and green grass. Gorillas spend their days in greenery, and 52 percent of the total planetary population live in Uganda.
A close encounter with gorillas
As Daddy Gorilla sweetened himself with leaves, the toddler jumped mischievously around him. He paused from time to time, curling his head curiously towards his father, watching how he entertained the visitors with various gestures. The mother kept a close eye on what was happening, especially making sure that the little one did not get into trouble. She carried the other toddler tightly in her arms.
However, curiosity did not give her peace. She placed the little ones in a safe place and set out to explore the environment. She was slowly approaching a middle-aged woman who was sitting down by the road’s side, overcame by fatigue and excitement. When the woman saw the gorilla came, she “died” of fear. Her heart was in her heels right now. She wanted to escape! But she remembered the guide’s previous instructions that gorillas should not be disturbed by sudden, unpredictable movements and high sounds. She crouched down, pretended to be calm, and waited for the gorilla to leave. But mom gorilla had no plan to go! She gently reached out and touched the woman on the shoulder, the first and even the second time. It was a peaceful, even maternal movement. With that touch, the gorilla’s mother wanted to welcome the woman. This gentle gesture warmed the woman’s heart. Though frightened, she raised her head and rewarded the gorilla with a broad smile and a warm look. The mom gorilla turned and left as calmly as she had come, leaving behind a frightened woman.
How do gorillas live in their natural habitat?
She scrambled deep into the woods and sat down on the ground. She was, for a sure, upset by the sudden close encounter, too. As soon as mom calmed down, the cubs bounced out of the bush. The smallest hairy creature deftly jumped up and leaped into her arms. The slightly bigger and more mischievous one decided to play a little more on the surrounding branches. Ignoring her mother’s voice and warning glances, it continued to jump mischievously. But, like any caring mother, she forced him to climb on her back. Led by Daddy Gorilla, they headed in an unknown direction. After they spent time with the guests, they were tired and only wished the family peace.
That day was full of tension, even of fear, but visitors will not easily forget this emotional connection with gorillas. The men became convinced that he could get the best out of it by respecting nature and its laws. It was an unforgettable experience, incomparable to any other urban happening. Impressed, in the silence of their thoughts, the visitors left the rainforest, listening along the way only to the melodic song of brightly colored birds.
A visit to the Bwindi tribe
After a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, guests descended to a nearby village. Members of the Bwindi tribe sat in front of their cottages gathering to welcome them. Their specific traditional singing and dancing are deeply rooted in the African population’s culture and genes. It is a scene that triggers emotions and great gratitude to the universe for allowing someone to spend exhilarating moments in that picturesque country.
Besides song and dance, guests also enjoyed homemade food, matooke. Potatoes are the most popular food there. The hosts also suggested tasting chapatti, the dish prepared with fried Rolex. Rolex eggs. “But be careful,”–the woman warned them! ‘’It is not a type of the watch than a quick snack served along the roads and everywhere in towns. If you visit western Uganda, you also must taste traditional dishes like ni Mbarara, and Karo or Akaro – finger millet bread, served with Eshabwe, locally made cheese.”
But this was not the end of the surprises. Tarasis already had a plan for the next day.
After a beautiful day with gorillas and socializing with the local tribe, Kibale National Park was the next exciting spot to visit. A beautiful national park whose hills and valleys are covered by dense greenery and rarely seen trees. The best of all chimpanzees live there! “Chimpanzees are very playful and unrestrained. They have never peace.
They hang from the trees, jumping from branch to branch, shouting at each other. They have fun with each other and delight visitors with their acrobatics and playful behavior,“– explained Tarasis and continued.
“There are also many other beautiful locations to visit. Murchison Falls National Park is a national park where the mighty Nile Falls fall. It is a habitat for crocodiles, hippos, and many other wild animals.’’
There is also Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to 500 different species of birds, a paradise for those who love bird watching. Many mammals, lions, hippos, elephants, and leopards also live freely on the changing terrain. Their struggles for survival continually keep them vigilant. There is always a game between them and means life or death.
The scenes of the Ruwenzori Mountains National Park are reminiscent of a painted canvas. The surrounding landscape with lots of greenery is remarkably beautiful. The river Nile waterfalls flow at higher altitudes; glaciers freeze on the peaks, the lakes provide incredible moments of peace and supernatural experience.
The safari guide and our host, Tarasis has spent days and days walking and exploring Uganda’s national beauties. His adventurous spirit boosts curiosity, motivating him to present the country’s most exciting places to the people worldwide, especially to adventurers and explorers, curious to discover the undiscovered. Those who want to visit the jungle, and experience the lives of these wild animals, watch their games and behave at the hidden jungle places, savanna, and swamps.
“I hope you will experience places in their full natural beauty. I can offer to you to experience the yet unexperienced,”– said Tarasis at the end.
After I explored and wrote this incredible story about Uganda, I believe him!
Written by Anita Palada ©
Photos by: Tarasis Bitesi, Pixabay, Pexels