We have all seen King Kong and been completely enchanted by the sheer size, raw power and animal tenacity of the protagonist gorilla. We had our hearts swept up into the delicate dance between Kong and female lead Ann Darrow; only to have our hearts broken to see the gargantuan mammal captive and performing like a zoo animal on stage in New York.
It is a classic story of man meets wild, whereupon he falls in love with the wilderness with her beauty and her savagery. Smitten with her unbroken nature, he tries to capture her and tame her for himself. In doing so, he breaks her, and she is no longer feral. She has lost her soul.
The practice of keeping a zoo in the city is to bring a little wild into the urban: to rekindle our touch with nature that we have lost in our cement jungle. Animals are imported from around the world, ripped from their natural habitat and slammed behind four walls.
Instead of bringing nature to us, we should venture to find it. There is nothing quite as humbling, or adventurous, as tackling a walking safari in the middle of Africa to walk among the few remaining gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, lies within a tangle of jungle with trees twisting up to reach the sunlight. It lies on the southern end of the African Rift Valley in Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rain forest.
This unique biome dates to 25 000 years ago, around about the time people were producing their first rock art. This ‘impenetrable forest’ is home to 320 mountain gorillas – around half of the world’s gorilla population.
The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 where it is home to the Mountain gorilla. These primates have been dying out as result of poaching and habitat loss. However, since Bwindi was declared a National Park in 1997, these gorillas have found their numbers increasing slowly again.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is also known as the “Place of Darkness” because of the dense tree cover that lets a little light in. The forest is also raised to an altitude between 1 160m – 2 607m above sea level. The Mountain gorilla prefers these higher altitudes with cooler conditions.
There are many different packages to select when venturing into the heart of Africa. To embark on a gorilla trekking safari, you will need to apply and acquire a permit. The safaris usually include overnight stays and food, with morning and afternoon expeditions into the jungle led by experienced game rangers.
Catch a trip into the middle of Africa now, when there is still a chance to see free roaming gorilla. Get in touch with the last little bits of unbroken.