Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Unforgettable, tough, demanding and challenging. Just some of the ways i would describe trekking through the dense forest of Bwindi, home to around 400 mountain gorillas.
I went on this trip purely focused on the type of photos that i wanted to take. Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of picking the route or which group of Gorillas you will encounter. I had high expectations but this is nature in Africa, nothing is guaranteed despite the high costs, preparations and demands involved.
The trek started with a briefing from the chief park ranger about safety, general well being, protection of equipment and personal belongings. If you drop something it’ll probably stay dropped forever. The general rule is to stay a good distance from the Gorillas at all times unless they decide to come to you, where you remain as calm as possible and avoid eye contact. Based on the rule of distancing from the Gorillas my main lens was the Leica 100-400mm (200-800mm full frame equivalent). This was fitted to the G9 with a burst rate of up to 60 fps with the electronic shutter. I only used the slower burst mode to avoid having to wait for the buffer clear. Also, the gorillas won’t be moving very fast so there’s no need to max out the camera’s shutter speed settings.
Currently 13 of the 15 families are habituated for trekking purposes. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) only grants 104 permits per day (groups of 8 per gorilla family), so booking way in advance of this unforgettable adventure is highly advisable to secure a trekking permit.
The mountain gorilla population in central Africa has increased by 25% since 2010. This is due to extreme conservation efforts to protect the gorillas from war, poaching and habitat loss. As few as 240 gorillas resided in the forests of central Africa during the 1980’s. After three decades of protection the overall population has recovered to over 1000 according to the last census in 2018.
Panasonic G9 and GH5 with some iPhone 8 footage.