Hiking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Rainforest to see gorillas in the wild is an experience unlike any other and one that few people would quickly forget! At The Insurance Emporium, we were lucky enough to send Vanessa, the lucky winner of our competition, and Sallie, her travelling companion, on a gorilla trekking adventure. After they got back from their trip, Vanessa and Sallie told us about some of the magical things they saw while exploring the rainforest…

A walk on the wild side

“I think that my favourite moment of the holiday was actually setting off on the first gorilla trek on Saturday morning, knowing that the chances of us seeing gorillas was high,” said Vanessa. As gorillas do not stick to paths, their visitors are led through wild parts of the rainforest. Vanessa said: “I can admit now to being a little apprehensive about the treks, as my knees are a bit creaky these days.” The pair initially trekked across flat parts of the forest, crossing bridges and streams. However, they also had to walk up steep, muddy areas while trying to avoid tripping over roots and vines. Nevertheless, they enjoyed the sights. Vanessa said: “It was a delight to the senses to hear the running water and to see the sunlight filtering through the canopy.” They also hired porters, who helped them through the forest and carried their bags for them. Vanessa said of her porter, Isaiah, “I doubt that I would have managed as well as I did without him.”

First sighting

During the two treks that Vanessa and Sallie went on, they tracked the same family. This was made up of a male juvenile, four mature females with babies and a silverback gorilla. After a fairly arduous trek, they approached the area where the family was. Sallie said: “My porter, Abraham, pointed up in the trees. There was a juvenile male gorilla, hanging on to the branches and standing upright in the air.” Vanessa said: “The first sight of the gorillas was quite moving, actually. They were more scattered than I imagined they would be and just went about their daily business.” Visitors are only allowed to view the gorillas for an hour at a time, but Sallie explained: “We felt that we knew ‘our’ gorillas when we moved away – it was a real privilege to have borrowed the trust that the trackers have actually earned.”

Sympathy for the silverback

The silverback leading the gorilla family was unfortunately unwell after falling from a tree and breaking his leg. He had also been bitten while fighting with another gorilla and had to be shot with antibiotic darts to help him recover. Vanessa explained that he had been lying fairly still on the first day but, on the second day, he had managed to sit up and travel quite far. She said: “for me, the most challenging part of the trip was seeing the injured silverback. I think that there is cautious optimism that he will recover but it’s life in the wild, isn’t it?” Sallie said: “When I saw the wounded silverback my heart went out to him – so much like a wounded man, still responsible for the safety of his family, still leading them to new pastures.”

Gorillas and humans

Vanessa noted that the gorilla family were fairly relaxed among their human visitors: “We were there amongst them and they tolerated us well. I did wonder what they must make of these daily visits.” Sallie added: “I had never expected them to be so near and so relaxed in our presence.” She explained how the family reminded her of humans, with the silverback’s fatherly role and a juvenile gorilla pounding his chest to imitate the silverback. Sallie said: “Some of the babies rode on their mothers’ backs and suckled milk, others were larger and moved around the forest with their mum keeping an eye on them and us.” She added: “It’s impossible to see a gorilla mother stroking her baby’s cheek without seeing them like us: our cousins in the forest.”

We’re so pleased that Vanessa and Sallie enjoyed their magical gorilla-tracking adventure in the Bwindi rainforest. Congratulations to them once again for winning this once-in-a-lifetime trip!

If you’re planning your own adventure overseas, it could be worth taking out travel insurance. The Insurance Emporium* offers different levels of cover with a range of Standard Benefits, such as cover for Cancellation and Curtailment for up to £75,000^. If you think this could be handy, stop by The Insurance Emporium today!


*The Insurance Emporium Travel Insurance is provided by Insure & Go Insurance Services Ltd. and underwritten by MAPFRE ASISTENCIA COMPAÑÍA INTERNACIONAL DE SEGUROS Y REASEGUROS, SOCIEDAD ANONIMA.

^Available on a Black, single-trip policy only.

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