Here is part of the family that I was able to visit with, in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. The family had 9 members. This is the Silver Back, just hanging out with one of the females and a few babies. The photo is taken with 1600-speed "actual" film at 10 feet away since flash photography is forbidden around the gorillas. The site borders Rwanda and the Congo. It was a 5-hour trek into this jungle without any paths or trails. You are allowed to watch them for ONE hour once you find them. We were lucky enough to get as close as 3 feet to some of the family.
Nothing in my life has compared to witnessing the interaction of these animals with each other for that one hour, and I feel like nothing ever will. The entire experience was like watching life in a vacuum. Almost better than watching infants. The way that they climbed up and down the trees. One baby fell off a tree and landed on the head of the mother. She just picked him up, kissed him, and put him back down after making sure he was ok. Then, she just let him go off and run around some more. Watching two brothers wrestle and fight with each other, including the typical chest pounding and roaring, was absolutely comical. I felt like I was the inferior species. There was an easily recognizable level of intelligence and love between them that I often don't see even glimmers of amongst people. Note: Males are males. Notice the Silver Back scratching himself while watching his women. Too funny. Where's the couch and remote? And where's his sandwich?
I will tell you it is a rigorous hike through the jungle, up and down hills in a forest so thick that the sun doesn't reach the floor. You are accompanied by a few guides who are carrying fully automatic weapons. The funny thing about this was that they told us that the soldiers were there for the protection of the gorillas, and they would not fire on the poachers if they were just firing at us. It is not cheap to visit these animals. However, it's a price I would pay again in a heartbeat. There are some 800 gorillas left in the world, and more than half of them live in Bwindi. The population has actually increased by 100 gorillas since there are now daily patrols throughout this forest region. With that in mind, I'm happy to purchase my gorilla-visa and gladly shake the hands of the soldiers that help keep these incredible creatures alive and well.
I have explored 76 countries, no hand holding, no tour guides just a drive to see, smell, taste, experience, and enjoy the earth. I have been on Reality Television and spend much of my time giving back to the community. From a unique perspective of sports, adventure and travel.